Time Affluence

For 33 years, I diligently saved.  I Built Wealth.  I Worked Toward Retirement. I Worked Toward Freedom.

I’m guessing many of you are in that same camp.

I hope my words help you achieve that Freedom, and I’m fortunate to have achieved my goal of early retirement this summer.   I’m Free, and it feels pretty damned good.  A thought has been flowing through my brain since that last day on the job that’s led to the writing of this post.  After watching our net worth grow for more than 30 years, I’ve realized that it never really was about the money.

Money was never the end goal.

Building financial wealth is only a tool for the ultimate goal of increasing Time Affluence Click To Tweet

True happiness in life doesn’t come from Money.  More importantly, happiness comes from gaining freedom over your time and using the resulting Time Affluence to do things that really matter.  Today’s post is focused on helping you increase your Time Affluence, and challenge you to think about how you’re prioritizing your Time.

Time Affluence

Time Affluence is worth pursuing, and today’s post will give you some ideas on how to increase it in your life.  Focusing on making more money won’t necessarily lead to happiness, but dedicating your time to things that matter can have a huge positive impact on your life.

To start, it helps to realize that Time Is The Rarest Of All Investments:

  • You get Time for free, but you can’t earn more.
  • Once you’ve spent it, you never get it back.
  • You can’t save Time up for use on a rainy day.
  • You get Time freely and spend it until it’s gone.

The thought I’ve been having since Day 1 of retirement, then, is that the real benefit of retirement is the dramatic increase in Time Affluence, and the ability to use the resulting time freedom however you choose.

Time Affluence: The Ultimate Freedom to use Time however you choose. Click To Tweet

In retirement, Time Affluence allows you to use each and every one of the 24 hours in every day exactly as YOU choose to use it.  No more need to clock in.  No more need for Time to commute.  No more need to waste Time sitting in one of THOSE meetings.

Complete.  Time.  Freedom.


The Application Of Time Affluence

So what, in reality, does the application of Time Affluence look like?  A few situations from the first 100 days of our retirement provide representative examples:

Helping A Dog:  My wife and I recently participated in a Service Sunday project for a woman who has had some tough luck in life.  As we helped rebuild her deck with other members of our church, we noticed a sad little dog in a small enclosure in the backyard.  After we completed the deck, my wife and I spent some one-on-one time with the dog and the owner.  Turns out her son had rescued it from a bad situation, and though it was a far from ideal setup the dog’s life had improved.  We asked if she’d mind if we came back and worked a bit on the dog’s setup, and she agreed. We returned the following Tuesday with a new “hammock bed” for the dog to keep it off the wet ground, gave it a huge dog bone we bought for the occasion, took the dog on a walk, and fitted a tarp over the fencing to provide some needed protection from the elements.  We made a dog’s life just a little bit better, and Time Affluence made it possible.

Time To Visit Family:  When we had our Family Reunion in July, my wife and I were able to stick around on Sunday night while most folks headed back to work.  It gave us a great opportunity to get some Wisdom From The Uncle.  More importantly, we had the freedom to “tack on” a trip further North to visit my Dad and Sister in Michigan, and we enjoyed some great evenings sitting around a campfire with the folks that mean the most to us.  Relationships are important, and fostering those relationships is important.  Time Affluence afforded us the opportunity to spend some time fostering something that matters to us.

Time To Take The Train:  My wife has always wanted to take a cross-country train trip but never had the time.  Now that we’re retired, we were able to take a 7,000 Mile Train Trip in conjunction with a recent visit to our daughter’s home in the Seattle area.  It was a trip we’ll treasure for a lifetime.  Time Affluence gave us the Freedom to pursue a lifelong dream, and see the country in a way that wasn’t possible when our time was more constrained.


Are You Happy?

I had to smile when I read that the most popular class currently offered at Yale is about How To Be Happy (PSYC 157: Psychology and the Good Life).  “Dang snowflakes”, I thought, when I first read the article, but I digress. The course focuses on what behaviors you can change to increase your happiness, and it’s a huge hit.  Turns out that a lot of the things we think bring us happiness (materialism, anyone?), actually work against having a happy life.

What’s one of the factors that really brings happiness, according to the research?

Time Affluence.

Yep, turns out doing things to increase your control over your time are some of the best things you can do to make your life happier.  If, for example, you’re stressed about mowing the yard, hire a yard service.

Increase your control over your time, and focus on using what time you have available to do things that matter.  Pretty simple, and I just saved you the cost of a Yale tuition.  I’ll add it to your bill.


Three Keys To Increasing Time Affluence

It’s interesting to think that you can always make more money, but you can never make more time. So how do we go about maximizing our Time Affluence and the happiness that results?

You Can Always Make More Money, But You Can Never Make More Time. Click To Tweet

First, realize that each of us has a limited amount of time on this earth.  Spend some time thinking about what you want to use your time for.  Is that bigger house really worth an extra 5 years of your life?  Remember, Yale just taught us that materialism isn’t the answer, but Time Affluence is.  Here are a few things to think about:

Avoid Bad Trades

The biggest enemies of Time Affluence are those decisions we make which result in us trading our valuable Time for things which aren’t as valuable.  I was a commodity trader for the last 10 years of my career and focused intensely on avoiding bad trades.  When you give something away, you always want to get something back that’s of equal or greater value.  Trading Time for something meaningless is a bad trade.  Avoid Bad Trades.

Make Good Trades

Alternatively, use your limited allocation of Time to do things that create happiness in your life.  This post on The Only Thing You Really Want is thought-provoking, and worth a read.  I’ve saved that link in my draft folder for the past 2 months while waiting to write this post, and I thank HalfLifeTheory for writing it.

The point of that post is that you don’t need Financial Independence to reap some benefits of increased Time Affluence. Focus on fulfillment, and use your time pursuing that goal. If you’re unable to achieve 100% Time Affluence due to your work/obligations, focus on using whatever time you do have on things that really matter.  The author tells a touching story about a time they helped someone, and how helping others is the type of activity that leads to true fulfillment. While building wealth is important, realize that it’s not the thing that leads to true happiness.  Make Good Trades.

Opportunity Cost

Realize that everything you choose to do with your Time has an opportunity cost.  Only 24 hours in a day, right?  Choose to do A, and B will go undone.  Make sure that the opportunity cost of pursuing Activity A is one you’re willing to pay.  Prioritize your time, and minimize the opportunity cost of doing those things that don’t have a lasting impact.  Gaming?  Social Media?  TV?  Think before you mindlessly plop down and veg, and find ways to Pursue Purpose with your time.  Minimize the opportunity cost of spending time doing things that don’t lead to fulfillment.

As my friend Physician On FIRE says, Focus Less On Net Income and More On Net Time (a great read, including some good tips for increasing your net time / Time Affluence).  Another post I’d encourage you to read is You Can Always Make More Money, But You Can Never Make More Time from Thrifty Enough (a good post to challenge yourself with how you’re prioritizing your time).


Conclusion

We all get “paid” the same in time.  Perfect equality.  What we do with our time is what differentiates us.  Find ways to increase your Time Affluence, and use your resulting Time Freedom to do the things that really make a difference in the world.  Realize that financial wealth is only a means to an end, and dedicate your Time to things that really matter. The world just might be a better place.

Time Affluence.  Increase it as much as possible, and use the resulting Time Freedom wisely.

Once you spend the Time, you’ll never get it back.

28 comments

  1. I retire at age 62 in a mere 4 months and I am so excited about all the free time I will have. I have plenty planned for this free time. It it will be the things I want to do and I will do those activities when I want to do them. People keep asking me what I plan to do once I retire and I am always so surprised by that question. I always respond with a list of my hobbies but the reality is that I will delight in and relish my time affluence!

  2. Snowflakes. Helping a dog. What’s not to love in this post?
    I so agree with you and consider myself very affluent. Once we get settled I want to shift direction a bit and spend my currency in a new way. Not sure what that is yet.

    1. I’m intrigued by your “shifting direction”, can’t wait to see what you do with your time currency at the new Groovy Ranch! One of the real joys of Time Affluence is the ability to use it for whatever you choose. Good luck as you work through what that means for you, I’m excited to see where it leads.

  3. Congrats on your retirement! I’m very happy for you! As an early retired person myself, I can attest to the beauty of being time affluent. Time is definitely a currency that sometimes get overlooked. I love your “Time is the Rarest of All Investments” section! The interesting thing to me about time is, how I get paid back when I use my time. If I invest my time wisely, I will have happy memories, and sometimes I feel that “doubles” my time–the first time, when I had the experience, and the second time, when I remember it. I’m not going to lie though, now that I’m time affluent, I do feel more free to waste my time, in the same way that it might be easier to overspend if I have billions of dollars in the bank. Thanks for the awesome and thought provoking post!

  4. I so enjoy your posts. They are a breath of fresh air to remind me that YES it is OK to retire early “to something”. There are so many more things I want to do with my time than spend it at an 8-5 job. I know I’m different and I know I’m blessed to have this opportunity.

    I’m amazed at how many people try to tell me I can’t retire because I couldn’t possibly have enough money saved. All the conversations seem to revolve around money which I agree is important to a point. It’s as if people think when I retire I’m suddenly going to stop being who I am and spend money like crazy.

  5. I took this almost exact waterfall photo of my husband this month! Skogafoss waterfall in southern Iceland. Love your blog! We both retired as of this year. Done at 49 and 50. So refreshing to have a voice of someone who is retired and of similar age to us. Keep up the great work!!

  6. Enjoyed your take on the whole concept of time. “Use it or lose it!”

    This article should be required reading for all those poor souls stuck on the job treadmill, chasing after cheese that’s always a little out of reach!

    (Say, have you thought about T-shirts as a side gig? Those 4 observations at the top of the article would make a great collection)!

    1. Unfortunately, the folks who most need to read content like this are also the folks least likely to read it. Funny you mention t-shirts, I actually had a batch made up last year for FinCon and gave them away to all of my friends. I hadn’t thought about it as a potential side gig, can’t imagine folks would actually want to pay for something with my stuff on it!

  7. i like the snowflake reference too. we’re big on limiting time/effort on things that really don’t matter all that much. he have a big house and could spend hours trying to achieve absolute cleanliness every week. you know what works great though? “good enough” is just right. spend 1/4 of the time to perfection and the laundry, dishes, bathrooms are clean then the house is clean. or spend 3x the time and the joint only looks 10% better or maybe 0% better to an outsider and i have my answer.

    nice article again, fritz.

  8. I have been a teacher for a long time. When the school year starts I ask my students what the most valuable thing in the world is. I will get monetary things like gold, sometimes friends and family. But I tell them that time is the most valuable thing in the world is time, because you can not buy time. You can buy gold, you can buy friends and even family, but time does not stop for anyone

    I do this as a motivation tool for my students and remind them that once you are born your clock starts to click. The clock will stop one day so make something good out of your life.

    Those of us who are in our early 60s know our clock will stop in the next 20-30 years so we need to use our time well and not just be couch potatoes during retirement!!

  9. Thank you for your blog I appreciate all the insights. A question for you Fritz I’ve been getting a lot of negativity since my announced retirement I’m 50 years old and people tell me how bored I’m going to be. What about your kids and College? I’ve worked since I was 16 years old now I’m 50 I’m financially able to retire if I want. Did you deal with this negativity? it has put doubts in my mind

    1. Alec666 – I too have run into naysayers and it initially caused me to think more (not a bad thing) about what I was doing. But like you, I’ve been working since I was 16 and I’m ready (53 now will be 55 when I retire) to ENJOY the next chapter without a regular job. I’ve saved and planned so I know I’m ready and will not be bored. I have a lonnngggg bucklist of activities. No one knows you better than you.

    2. Alec, sorry for the delay in responding. Most of my friends and co-workers were aware of my blog, which helped offset any negativity. Vast majority were supportive, sorry you didn’t have the same experience.

      As for kids and college, we have 1 daughter who is now married (and due with our first grandchild in November!). We paid for her college, just as my parents paid for mine (pay it forward, right?).

      As for the naysayers penetrating your mind, don’t let them unduly influence you. Make your own decisions. If you know you’re ready, take the plunge. It’s your decision, not theirs. Hope that helps!

  10. Another good article Fritz. Time is limited for us all. It’s wise to realize we need to make good use of it and not take it for granted.

  11. Dug it man. I have been focusing on time affluence which means less blog time…so far so good and trying to focus on the family some more. I am glad to see how retirement is treating you. Well deserved brother and I hope you continued good health and good times.

  12. Thanks Fritz. Great read.

    Over my 28 years of working I have made sure I protected our time well. Certainly not perfect though. Pursuing purpose was a no brainer. I volunteered with Scouts to be with my two sons and spent countless hours with them and other young men. When they joined marching band I volunteered (ok, I was really voluntold) to be a “roadie” helping the band move things around.

    Mrs. r2e and I are now looking at new purposes since we are semi-empti nesters with boys off at college. This will be our bridge to future retirement purpose.

    Thank for the thought provoking post.

  13. I enjoy your articles. I have been working since I was 16 as well. I didnt finish college but I managed to start my own company and sell it twice in the past 15 years (I think the record in the guniesss book might be 3 times). I was forced out last year and now work about 5 hours a week AND LACK HOBBIES. I have started volunteering at SCORE (service core of retired executives) it is very rewarding but so far it has been trying to help dreamers without a real plan and without the proper amount of savings to weather a storm. I stay positive and encourage them as much as possible. I have been in the same profession for 49 years and I am only 68, not sure I want to make it 50. I think I need to do a google search for hobbies a workaholic can enjoy

    JJ

    1. Cycling (I’ve seen 80 year olds out there)
      Gardening
      Learn small welding as in yard art
      Reading
      Charitable works i.e meals on wheels, visiting the lonely, learning other peoples life experiences.
      RVing
      …..
      Glad to share

    2. Jj, you’re not alone. Many workaholics have a difficult time adjusting to life without work. I’d encourage you to take a few days of “self-time”, and reflect on things that may interest you. There are some books out there, though I can’t recall titles at the moment (just Google “adjusting to retirement”).

      Most important, try as many new things as you can over the next 12 months. Some will hit, some will miss. Keep swinging the bat. Even the best batters in the major leagues only hit 30% of the balls, but some of them will be home runs. Good luck on your journey, I hope my words help as you make the transition.

  14. Yep, another great read!! I learned this when I retired and knew you too would grab it only faster than I did … you are smart that way. I only wish I knew this earlier.

    P.S. you have now been read at the airport in Kathmandu-waiting to board my flight to Lukla. It’s all about the time my friend, there is only what we are given.

  15. I absolutely agree about money giving you Time Affluence, but for me money really gives choices, one of which is choosing how we use our time! How we use those choices is up to us. My husband wants to continue to work part-time, that’s his choice, he knows he doesn’t have to. I choose to volunteer as a trustee for a charity. We both choose to spend time travelling!

    Time Affluence is just amazing!

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