The Financial Accounting of Time


Today’s blog post is a little different in that it’s an exercise and it will require your participation.

I read recently that the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself is to get clear about who you are and where you’re going. Much of my time spent in life has been in somewhat of an aimless direction, I just knew I should go towards money. What are you seeking?

If someone were to ask me, “hey, why you trying to get all that money,” my answer would probably be

“well, because money!”

We of all people, the money people, know about time. We know time is money. I know if I invest $100 a month in a Roth IRA today I won’t have to contribute $500 a month when I’m 40. You can always get more money but you can’t get more time.

We spend a lot of time talking about the means to the path of financial independence but we don’t talk much about the path itself.

As I continue on this savings path I realize that what’s helped me most is knowing who I am and where I’m going. I’m fortunate to be highly self-aware and I have a strong sense of who I am. That’s always served me and allowed me to be discerning where others were clueless.

I think we need to analyze our motives now and then. Last post I wrote a bit about motives in talking about fear and security.

Now I want to talk about time.

Where we spend our time says a lot about our motives. I believe the more time we spend on the things that really mean something to our inner being, the more closely we are following a path to happiness.

I wanted to see where I was spending all my time. As of late I’ve been feeling like there isn’t enough time in the day to earn the money I feel I need, and so I’ve been making myself very exhausted.

And so, I’ve been working on my relationship with money and time. I realized I have been seriously off track of savings goals and it has a lot more to do with my mental and emotional attitudes than it does with my financial situation.

Essentially, I feel like I will never have enough time or enough money.

In my self-analysis process I came across this amazing group of exercises that made me decide how much life time I’m spending on things that don’t matter. I’d like to share that with all of you and encourage you to share your results.

How many life hours have you used so far? Your age x 24 x 365


Picture how much money you need to live on per month, excluding savings. How many life hours does it take per month to earn that money? (amount divided by hourly wage)

111 hours

If you carry debt, how many life hours will it take to pay it off?


What amount of savings would make you feel like you have “arrived”?


How is that specific amount of money essential to your happiness?

This money would allow me to work much less and be able to take part in the activities I really want to do. I want to run a small farm and write in the off-time. This money would give me the independence to do that.

What are the things you still need to do in life that will fulfill you as a person?

  • Travel to Asia
  • Teach people about personal finance
  • Sponsorship/Help other recovering addicts
  • Create a community garden
  • Write a nonfiction book

How many hours are you spending a week doing those things now?

1-2 hours


What this exercise taught me was that I spend a lot of time going in the vague and nebulous direction of money but I’m not exactly sure why. I think we all do that. We have an unconscious goal of attaining more money all the time.

I learned that most of my goals are not based in money, that I could mostly do them with or without money. The trouble is that I’ve spent much of my time in the pursuit of money, and so I’ve had no time to do the real things.

Last post I wrote about how I always felt money would fulfill me and make me feel secure. Almost always my drives are coming from fear. Usually when my drives come from a positive place, like wanting to help someone or a genuine desire to learn and grow, I’m more at peace and much more trusting of the process.

I also learned that I spend very little time doing the things that, if accomplished, would bring me true joy.

Too often I’m searching out pleasures, or worse, trying to stave off fears with money.

Waiting for the right conditions has never served me. I’m waiting for a raise, waiting to be done with college, waiting until I’m older to start that business. I can’t start in on those real goals because it isn’t the right time yet. Sound familiar?

Ok, it’s your turn. Comment some of your surprising results or tell me what you think about mine!



  1. Matthew says:

    I feel fortunate that my passion aligns with my pursuit of money. The thing I love doing the most in the world is the thing that pays me. However I have many other goals as well in moving toward personal fulfillment and I do think my time/pursuit of money balance is off there. Primarily in that I don’t capitalize on the free time I have available to me – instead I spend it thinking about working, or wasting it and not living mindfully. I wish that I used the ample free time my job allows for to achieve some of these things, but when I’m not working I tend to just freeze.

    • Elsie says:

      I relate to that a lot. I’m the kind of person who always feels like they need to be doing something. A lot of the time I spend my free time worrying about work or scheming about what my next blog post is going to be. Thankfully, I love most of the stuff I’m involved with. However it doesn’t make for a well-balanced life. I think there’s a lot to be said for our culture of always doing instead of just being. Thanks Matthew!

  2. ZJ Thorne says:

    It’s always interesting to see what folks claim to value versus how they spend their days. Fear is a powerful emotion.
    ZJ Thorne recently posted…Net Worth Week 78 – Pushing Through EditionMy Profile

    • Elsie says:

      Yes it is. I notice in one way or another most of my decisions are based in fear, or anticipating and trying to avoid pain. Thanks for stopping by ZJ!

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