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How Can You Have A Lot Of Time And Money At The Same Time?



Mai Le


I have been traveling a lot lately. One observation I’ve made, especially true for long-haul and international flights, is that many elderly people travel. In fact, on most long-haul flights, you’ll often find more elderly individuals (50 years old and beyond) than youngsters.

One explanation for this, I believe, comes from the trade-off between time and money. During pre-working age, such as when one is pursuing education, a person has total control over how they spend their time. However, they might not be financially equipped to afford many amenities of life. In simple terms, they don’t have money. This dynamic shifts once they start working: they now have the financial means to afford what they want but lose control over their time to the institutions they work for. Retirement appears to offer a balance, where individuals have both time and a guaranteed income. Thus, retirees often spend their time enjoying life, such as traveling.

This observation leads to several questions: Can we reverse this time and money trade-off? Why should we wait until retirement to live this way? How can we enjoy life like retirees do right now?

Most people aspire to this balance. By owning our own time while having financial capability, we can shape our own happiness. The notion is undeniably idealistic. Though I can’t provide a direct solution, I can offer some insights:

  1. Realize Time is Limited, but Wealth is Limitless

Throughout this article, I frequently mention “money.” For clarity, when I say “money,” I’m referring to wealth, not just cash. Many grow up believing there’s a fixed amount of wealth in the world, thinking that if one person becomes richer, someone else becomes poorer. This zero-sum mentality is a misconception.

Wealth, unlike money, is limitless. To illustrate, consider a barter system. A hairdresser offers haircuts, while a winemaker offers wine. Both have something others desire. Money is merely a medium of exchange. The hairdresser can always offer more haircuts, adding to his wealth without diminishing anyone else’s. If the overall amount of wealth (goods and services in demand) increases, more money can be introduced, such as IOUs or loan notes, to support this growing wealth.

In essence, there’s no upper limit to wealth. As long as you consistently offer something of value, your potential wealth is nearly boundless. Yet, your time remains finite. Recognizing this disparity is crucial for addressing the time/money dilemma.

  1. Avoid Exchanging Your Time Directly for Money

If your primary method of acquiring wealth is to trade your time, your wealth is naturally limited by the hours you can work. For instance, if a hairdresser can only give 50 haircuts a day, his daily wealth is capped at 50 times the price of each haircut.

The challenge is to find ways to generate wealth without directly spending more time. This could mean capitalizing on asset appreciation, like wine aging, or leveraging the global reach of digital platforms, like artists earning from their songs even while they sleep.

The fundamental idea is not to rely solely on your personal time to build wealth. Instead, leverage other resources, such as employing others or banking on assets and reputation.

  1. Consider Independence from Institutions

From a young age, societal norms encourage us to become part of institutions, from schools to workplaces. While institutions can offer structured environments beneficial for learning or earning, they also limit autonomy over one’s time.

I’m not advocating for immediate resignation from jobs or immediate departure from current institutions. Rather, it’s vital to recognize these constraints, especially if the rewards of surrendering control over your time don’t align with your personal or financial goals.

In conclusion, the truly remarkable often challenge the status quo.

This article is already quite lengthy, but if you’re interested in diving deeper into this topic, I recommend reading “The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich” by Timothy Ferriss. This bestseller offers an insightful perspective on the subject.


Written by Mai Le

My name is Mai. I am originally from Vietnam. After my university years at LSE, I worked in investment banking at Goldman Sachs. After a wonderful time there, I started several of my own business as well as helping others on theirs. I've always been building communities and businesses for as long as I can remember, and absolutely thrilled to see others enjoy what I've built.



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