What if, instead of paper currency like the almighty dollar, time was actually the currency? Not just time in general, your time. Your life.
What if that was how you paid for things?
Things like coffee, not $3 anymore, but 15 minutes of your life. Car loan? Not $20,000, but 3-5 years of your life instead (in monthly payments of course). Fyre festival concert tickets? 20 YEARS! (only for the ultra rich to be conned obviously).
For those who are movie buffs or Justin Timberlake fanatics (guilty) you may recall this was the premise of the 2011 movie, In Time.
Though the critics may not have loved it (37% on Rotten Tomatoes), I found the concept of the movie to be fascinating and one that really has had me thinking.
This isn’t a movie review, I’ll save that for the professionals, this is merely taking a look at the concept and how much life would be different than it currently is.
What If Time Was Currency?
In the movie, time controls your life. You’re given a set amount when you are born, only beginning to tick down when you hit working age. When you run out of time, you die.
With this concept, “time is money” takes on the literal definition.. When you work, you get more time, when you don’t, your life is just ticking away.
All your expenses cost time. Your home, food, transportation, entertainment, everything. Spend your money (time) poorly and you may find yourself literally clinging to your job, completely dependent on that paycheck simply to live.
How would this change your spending habits? If you knew that by overextending yourself and not being able to cover your expenses that you’d risk death?
Would you get that massive house that is bigger than needed? How about that fancy sports car, or up to date latest tech gadget?
Do you think it would feel good to be sitting in that big house, or driving that nice car, while seeing that you only have a weeks worth of time left to live, just waiting for that next paycheck to come?
Sure, there are those with more time than they need, and they will lend you their time if you need it so long as you pay it back eventually (with interest of course).
But extend yourself too far, or lose your ability to work and earn time and that’s it. Your life is over.
How would this change people’s spending decisions?
Do you think they would choose to actually live life paycheck to paycheck? Or would they make smarter choices and save up some of that time to give them cushion (longer life) in case of an emergency?
Wait… Isn’t Life Already Like That?
Well, not exactly. Real life isn’t quite so morbid as the dystopia presented in the movie. No, you will not die if you go into debt and can’t make your payments.
But how about the rest of it? How do you actually earn the dollars in your bank to pay for all your monthly expenses? For a vast majority of people, it is with time, of course.
What do you mean by this?
For most people, the way you earn money is through your job. No matter what your job is, you need to spend time doing that job in order to make money. You then take that money and pay for all those expenses you have in your life.
Can’t pay all your expenses? Well, you can go into debt for that (credit card debt, personal loans, etc). Eventually though, you will need to pay those off. And how will you get the money? Through a job, which means even more of your time.
So while not direct, in a way, for most people time really is the currency.
While people living in debt, or paycheck to paycheck are not at risk of their lives (like in the movie), they are tethering themselves and their time to a job, always needing that paycheck to get by.
Win The Game, Save Your Time
There’s good news though, there is a way to break out of this cycle and get your time back!
You see, this whole assumption has been that in order to make money to pay for your living expenses, you need to spend your time at a job for that. But what if there was a way to make that amount of money without spending your own time on it?
You’re in luck! There is!
When you save and invest the money you have leftover after covering your expenses, this money starts going to work for you, bringing in income of it’s own through interest, dividends, capital gains, etc.
If you can save up enough in investments over time, eventually all this money could return enough money of its own to cover all your living expenses!
At this point you are Financially Independent. You no longer have to spend your time at a job in order to pay your living expenses. The money you saved over the years is doing that for you!
Who would have thought, by saving all that money while you were at your job it eventually would come around to save your time after the fact.
In parting, the the movie character JT plays states one of my favorite lines in response to a question:
Other Character: “If you had as much time as I have on that clock, what would you do with it?
JT: “I can tell you one thing. If I had all that time, I sure as hell wouldn’t waste it“
Don’t waste your money (time), save it, and free up more of your time later.
What do you think of this concept? Is time actually money?