The single most precious thing all of us own is our time and the most unfortunate thing about time is that we cannot control it. We can never buy more time, but we can all make the most of the time that we have to the best of our abilities. As such, we should be using this precious resource to do the things that we love, not wasting it on a toxic relationships or at a crummy jobs.
If all this comes as a bit of a downer to you, then it’s about time I delivered the some good news. Through certain practices, such as building an emergency fund, budgeting effectively and investing your money wisely, you can almost replicate the process of buying yourself more time. Becoming financially independent will allow you to regain more control of how you spend your time, rather than having to always trade your time for money.
One of the greatest feelings in life is the sense of freedom, experienced in different forms by people such as that Friday afternoon feeling or that holiday buzz of exploration. Yet, one of the greatest flaws in our human nature is the desire to earn more money but resenting the displeasure of work required to afford those possessions. Think about all the money you have earned and what you have spent it on, the most common answers will be a car, house, phones, clothes etc. We buy these things because we truly believe they will make us happy and for the most part they will give us some satisfaction and pleasure. However, in reality by buying more things we are directly stealing time from ourselves as we end up committing to working harder in order to afford more empty expenses.
Imagine the feeling of waking up on a Monday morning without your alarm clock ringing and the sensation of knowing you have everything you need financially. Your house is paid off, you don’t have any debts and all your and your family’s expenses are covered thanks to a healthy reserve of money you have built up. Knowing this means that you can spend your time and your money on whom or whatever you like, be it family, friends, a hobby or even your job. This freedom means your time is not chained to a company’s desk. You own your time and you get to choose how you spend it entirely.
However, the reality for most of us is that this is usually only a dream we have at 6am on a Monday morning right before the alarm goes off. Through saving your money sensibly you can release yourself from the commitment of giving your time for money and instead trading your money for time.
Looking at things in a more practical fashion, ask yourself how much money you need every month to cover your expenses? The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) states that the average full time wage is $74,724 before tax, which is around $4,780 per month after tax. Lets assume you spend around $2,500 - $3,000 every month to cover all of your expenses and you try to put away $1,500 (or as close to that proportional amount) into your savings account or an investment. The key idea here is to focus on the amount of money you are saving, because effectively saving $1,500 each month for two months means you have enough money to cover one month's expenses.
Saving this proportion of your salary every month over the course of the year is effectively buying yourself six months per year to live financially independent. The continuation of this practice over the course of two years will mean that come the 24th month, you will have saved enough to buy yourself an entire year of financial independence. If you invest your money then over time those investments may realise substantial gains, for example, through compounding interest. If you invest wisely then you may experience those investments buying you 5, 10 or even 20 years of financial independence.
The best thing you can do now is to start thinking how long it will take for you to buy yourself a month? How long would you have to save to completely cover one month’s expenses? The more money you save, the more your time becomes available to you. So instead of trying to do the impossible and physically buy more time, save so you can buy the ability to enjoy more of your time.