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 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?
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.
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).
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.