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“Should time now be our greatest aspiration?” –The Guardian
Warren Buffett is currently worth $100 Billion dollars. To put that in perspective, if you bought a Tesla Model S every day of your life, it would take you 2740 years to use up all his money. Given the average North American lifespan of 81 years, that would take you 34 lifetimes!
But Buffett is 91 years old. And since we haven’t figured out immortality, it’s a safe beat that most of you reading this will likely outlive him.
So, would you trade places with Warren Buffett?
The correct answer is no. Time is our greatest asset. It’s the only thing that no amount of money can buy no matter how rich you are.
So, why do we continue living our lives like there’s an endless supply of time?
Because society tells us it’s a “good thing” to trade our time for money. The busier you are, we’re told, the better your life is, and therefore the more important you are.
Elon Musk works 120 hours a week. Jack Ma worked 12-hour days and came up with the punishing work schedule of “996” (9 AM to 9 PM, 6 days a week). Sheryl Sandberg worked from her hospital bed, the day after giving birth.
The Japanese even have a specific word for “working yourself to death” called “Karoshi”.
Why is working yourself into an early grave a badge of honor? Why are we killing ourselves for work?
If time is our greatest resource, why are we happily trading it for money and prestige?
Maybe it’s time to take a deep breath, step back, and re-evaluate how much time we are willing to give up for money.
One of the few bright spots of the pandemic is that it forced workers to do exactly that.
In April 2021, more than 4 million workers quit their jobs in the United States, a historical record, in what’s been dubbed by economists as “The Great Resignation.”
The reasons for quitting vary. Some switched to fully remote jobs to get rid of the dreaded commute, others chose to become stay-at-home parents, and some were disgusted by how their employers treated them during the pandemic.
When your employer doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your health and continues pressuring you to pick up the slack for other employee who quit, you start to wonder “why the Hell am I here? What’s the point of all this?” I get it. I’ve been there.
As Buffett said, you can’t buy love and you can’t buy health, so what’s the point of money if you’re killing yourself for your employers and spending time away from your family?
Because workers have realized this, companies can no longer exploit them by paying them as little as possible for maximum output. Workers simply won’t put up with that kind of crap anymore. And after two years of rising prices and stagnant wages, companies are finally getting the message. Target and Best Buy have raised salaries, and Amazon is offering hiring bonuses ranging from $200-$1000. Even with these incentives, 94% of retailers are still having trouble filling roles.
This has fueled labor shortages and supply chain issues across the board. Workers have started to become protective of their greatest asset: time. And rather than trade it for money, they’ve decided to protect it—like an investment.
This is why the Great Resignation has introduced the concept of the “Time Millionaire”. First coined by writer Nilanjana Roy in the Financial Times, the idea of a time millionaire is someone who measures their worth not in money but in terms of personal time clawed back from their employers to enjoy life. Because after all, money gives you security but according to Roy, “how you spend your hours and your days is how you spend your life.” If only we were taught to value our time the same way we’ve been taught to value our paychecks.
I spent the first 8.5 years of my professional life striving to become a millionaire. As a result of that, I was able to buy my freedom and will spend the rest of my life as a time millionaire.
But what I’ve realized is that you don’t need a million dollars to be a time millionaire. Simply having just one year of living expenses saved gives you the courage to quit a hateful job in exchange for a less stressful one. Especially given how desperate employers are right now, going to the extent of even paying people just to show up to interviews.
The pandemic has upended our lives and forced us to re-evaluate our priorities. But with every crisis, there’s a silver lining. Workers are no longer only focused on the financial rewards of a job, but rather on how they’re being treated by their employers. As a result, there are more opportunities than ever for workers to restructure their priorities to value time over money.
Becoming financially independent protects you from lay-offs, hateful jobs, and lets you buy back your freedom so you can spend your time doing what makes you happy.
But even if you’re not 100% financially independent, by having an emergency fund, 1 year of your expenses saved, and/or a partial FI portfolio with passive income that covers a portion of your expenses, these financial safety nets gives you options so you can become a time millionaire.
What do you think? Are you a time millionaire? Should we be prioritizing our time over money?
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