Money is important and I don’t intend to knock its significance.
The lack of money prohibits access to many experiences. Although that rings true, a lot of the things we want to do early-on in life require health and time, not money.
When you zoom out you realise that money is just one of various resources that make a good life. Your most precious resource is time. It is finite. You know how much money you have. You don’t know how much time you have left.
Blogger Owen Stoneking commented on the relationship between time, health and money. In the context of time and money he ask’s the question” “Would you trade places with Warren Buffet”? Context is very important in answering this question.
Life is a journey of resource allocation – whether it be time, money, energy, or health. Once we account for the basic necessities required for survival (food, shelter, water, etc.) we’re left with an infinite number of choices. These choices enable us to collect resources (working for money, sleeping for energy, working out for health), but no matter how hard we try, we can’t create more time.
You trade your time to earn money. You then exchange money to acquire other resources. A life well lived is not defined by the amount of money that you have at the end of it, but rather by experiences and the memories made.
We tend to sacrifice our time to make money at the expense of relationships and experiences. Time is precious and provide the opportunity for experiences that are unique to a particular season in your life. You can never go back and do it over. Most opportunities passed up cannot be revised.
Certain experiences are reserved for “that phase of your life”. If you missed a season in your child’s early years, it is gone. It is not the same to backpack through Europe in your 50’s. That experience is best to be had in your 20’s. You can always make more money. You can never get back time.
When work is meaningful it contributes to your happiness and fulfilment. It still needs to be balanced with other areas of your life.
The Relationship between Time, Money, and Health
When we look back, we typically regret the things we did not do. We regret the things that needed our time and could have been accomplished without money.
What is more important: Money, Health or Free Time? As mentioned earlier – context is crucial as the relationship changes with age.
Owen Stoneking asks the question: “Why do we not think about things rather in terms of time than money?”
Time well spent translates into experiences.
We tend to over-optimize for money and under-optimize for time. If we are not mindful we end up sacrificing our time and health early on to have more money later. I believe that awareness will allow you to make better choices and to create a better balance. Your wellness will be defined by your net-fulfilment rather than by your net-worth.
The “regret gap” in your retirement years is the space between your money, health, and relationships. When you optimize for wealth you could have a lot of money later in life, but not good health to enjoy it. Social connectedness impacts both our physical and mental health.
What are the experiences you want and when is the opportunity to have them?
Our decisions should be made intentionally understanding the trade-offs that we need to make to have experiences and optimise our net-fulfilment.
“Experiences yield dividends because we humans have memory. When you add in this concept of a memory dividend to the net fulfilment equation, something becomes clear: it pays to invest in experiences early. Compounding works not only with money, but also with experiences.” – Owen Stoneking
Stoneking suggests that we should be optimising for “net-fulfilment” rather than “net-worth”. Net-fulfilment does not exclude money. It merely seeks to bring balance between the various resources that will define a life well lived.
You are defined by your experiences. Compounding should do its magic both in terms of your money and experiences.
“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” – Paulo Coelho
The above article was written and adapted by Marius Kilian.
*“Would You Trade Places with Warren Buffett”? The relationship between time, health, and money”, Owen Stoneking blog, The Long Run, 20 January 2023