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Time Is Not Money: 3 Critical Differences

The universal dictum of “time is money” was made famous by Benjamin Franklin when he equated the passing minutes and hours to shillings and pounds. I believe good old Ben got it all wrong, time is not money; yes, time and money have some similarities, they are both valuable, important, limited and a source of great delights as well as great sorrows.

I am convinced that you will lead a happier life if you understand that time is not money. Let me elaborate by explaining three critical differences:

First. Money is measurable.

I can open my wallet and know exactly how many dollars I have; I can go online and check my balance on my investment and checking accounts, I can always find out exactly how much money I have. But time is not money because time is not measurable in the same manner; yes, you can measure hours and minutes, but you cannot measure life. I did some research, and, on average, we can live up to 84 years nowadays, but no one can assure us that we have “X” number of years to live. Actually, it is not reassuring at all that, as you read this, people are dying all over the world at different ages, children starve to death in Africa, young adults are being killed in the different wars all over the world and we lose elders to disease, all while people of all ages die due to accidents and other untimely fatalities.

Imagine the bank telling us: “we have your money here, we cannot tell you how much it is, but we have it here”, that would be unacceptable. But with time we must accept life telling us “I have your remaining days here, I cannot tell you how many there are, but I have them here”.

Second, Money is transferable.

I can give you this $100, “please use them, I know you are struggling with finances these days, just give them back to me next month with no interest, no problem”.

But time, unlike money, is not transferable. I cannot come to you with “Hey, I know you have a pretty easy day today and I have a very busy day, there is absolutely no way I can do everything I have to do, could you please loan me an hour you are not using, I know I have a relaxed Sunday, I will pay you back next week. Would you mind?” Not possible.

Third, Money is accumulable.

I can decide not to spend these resources today because I don’t need to, and I know I have a family vacation planned for the summer that will need these resources. I can save them for later. But time is not money, I cannot go to the time bank and tell them: “Could you please put these two hours away for me? I don’t need them today and I don’t want to lose them in front of the TV, I am flying out for a business meeting next Thursday and I have to get back in on time for my evening class at 6 in Atlanta. I know I will be short a couple of hours, could you please keep them in my account until then?”

I am sure you will have a more rewarding life if you understand that time is not money. To make it easier for you to remember this crucial piece of information, I am inventing a new alarm clock that will greet you every morning with: “Good morning! We have deposited a new day in your account, you have a balance of 16 hours; they are not transferable, they are not accumulable and they all expire today so use them wisely. A deposit of another day is scheduled for tomorrow, but is not yet confirmed, this might be your last deposit.”

When people are diagnosed with a terminal illness, they get a sudden sense of urgency because they are sometimes told their balance: “you have 5 months”. The rest of us are immortal, we have all the time, we will do it later. “Time is money” gives us a sense of value; “time is not money” gives us a sense of urgency. Don’t wait until later to say: “I am sorry”, to say “I miss you”, to say “I love you”, to say “how can I help you?” to say “thank you, this really meant a lot to me.”

Not only will you have a more rewarding life, but you will also beat time because you will remain forever in the memories of all those you touched with your love and compassion.

Time is NOT money, use it wisely!

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1 Comment

Antonio Boyd
Antonio Boyd
Nov 14, 2021

"This might be your last deposit" Love that one! Thanks for clarifying that grey area! lol

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