Money is time

“Time is money!” Almost everyone knows this idiom. But why are we still saying it in this form? If time = money, then inevitably money = time. Then, why don’t we say “Money is time!” as well?

Time is money

If we like it or not, we live in a world with limited resources. Fried chicken don’t fly on our plates. To survive, we have to work (at least some activity is required). Luckily, we don’t have to build the house on our own or produce our own food. We can focus on other activities, which we can do better and which are valuable to someone so much that we are rewarded for that – we get some money. Then we can change money for other necessary or even unnecessary “things” so the time we spent working is money for us – either we are paid for the work or create some value which would have to be paid for otherwise (we cook dinner, fix something in the house, …).

Money is time

What if we just reverse the idiom and say that money is time? Suppose my hourly net wage is $30. Then I can say that the $30 earned is an hour of my time. If I’ll exchange something for $30, I would trade it for an hour of my work time. It is time I can’t take back, I can’t do anything else instead, I can just exchange it for some other value. It was a part of my life. To exaggerate a little, I can say that when we lose money (no matter why), we are losing a part of our life. To put it another way, we lose some time we spent working and we didn’t have to. We could have spent the time in a more pleasant way (well, except for workaholics).

If we take this perspective, we can suddenly see all our money transfers in a different way. Is the dinner in the restaurant worth the time I spent working or is it better to buy the ingredients and spend some time cooking? The same calculation is unfortunately valid even when I lose some money against my will. If someone stole $300 from me, he would basically steal 10 hours of my time. 10 hours I could have spent in a different way. So our life is for example shortened in a similar way by inflation.

In the example, the net wage was considered, but our work has a value of the gross wage so what happens with the difference? Do we get back the appropriate value for this time which was taken from us? Wouldn’t it be better to spend this time as we see fit? I don’t even dare to estimate how much time (life) is taken from us by politicians or pointless bureaucracy and restrictions. I will leave this to you.


No, don’t get me wrong – money isn’t everything and converting everything to money would be foolish. Yet, this new perspective can help us to re-evaluate how we spend our time and what activities we should focus on. Just some food for thought, not complex analysis. So I will end this article with a bonus question: What price tag would you stick on the hour of your free time?