Money is Time (or the fascinating link between the humble front lawn and a luxury watch) #CoffeewithColm Episode 182

Driving through the Ireland’s Heartlands early the other morning. I found myself stopped at roadworks on the outskirts of a small town so I had time to notice a housing development off to my left.

There were a half- dozen homes to the front of the estate – fine big ones, detached. double-fronted, two cars in most driveways, plants instead of walls between them so each had it’s own patch of land, it’s own perfectly manicured front lawn; pretty typical scene to be honest, estates such as this one are found the length and breadth of the country. I assume each had four or five bedrooms.

I noticed one internal road led from the mid-point of the front row back into the estate where I saw there were many more homes of apparently various styles and sizes. In the estate the homes were semi-detached, again no walls separating the front lawns but the footprint was considerably smaller and I assume 3-bed, possibly some two-bed townhouses.

Can you imagine the scene?

My thoughts ran to a piece I stumbled across some years ago when I tried to read some of Adam Smith’s work from the 1700’s (I know!). Smith, a Scotsman is often hailed as the father of modern economics (I know!! – don’t judge me) in which he outlined the history of the front lawn; wait till you hear this…

Back in the day land was needed to keep people alive, to grow crops and on which to keep animals – make sense?

As people became wealthier, they didn’t need all of their land for potatoes and pigs, so they began to set aside some land just for, eh growing grass and flowers – such opulence!

And. So the neighbours would all know what they had to do to keep up the Jones’s, the Jones’s would make sure that this patch of land was to the front of the house so everyone could see how they are doing!

There. Bet you never knew that did you? The lawn was the ultimate status symbol!

To find out where I am headed with this and why I say Money is Time, watch the six-minute videolisten to the six-minute podcast, or read on below…

Roll forward a few hundred years and not much has changed (well everything really, but…) in that as people get ahead, and most of us are susceptible to this, we upgrade the car(s), the house, the phone, the holidays and the bling – all justifiable reward for our hard work and enterprise, but subconsciously (or perhaps consciously) to show people how we are doing – and in that mix somewhere, that we are in fact doing better than them.

What is a Rolex watch? A timepiece. A beautiful piece of craftsmanship. An indulgence. A reward. A lawn.

And, by the way, yours truly does not have any issue with nice things (and no I don’t have a Rolex watch – Breitling is my thing…) but I think we need to be honest with ourselves and realize where we are in relation to ‘stuff’ because Money Is Time.

“Don’t you mean Time s Money, Colm?”

Was waiting for that. No. The phrase ‘Time is Money’ annoys me – nay, upsets me. It suggests that unless I am spending my time making money then I am a loser! Well I have never worked for money and I am not a loser, but I would prefer to sit by water and think than work any day of the week and twice on Sundays thank work for money. (I don’t – yet…) I love business but I hate work, both take time but time invested in building a sustainable business has recurring payment potential; time spent working is paid once.

So I’m afraid it’s worse than Time is Money, Money is Time.

If, as Time is Money suggests, I am not working, ergo I am not earning, the corollary of that is that to make money most people must spend time. And time, my friend is the ONE TRULY IRREPLACEABLE RESOURCE available to you and me.

You and I are alive. We have been granted x amount of time on planet earth. When it is up, it is up, and someday (hopefully a long way away) it will be done and, poof! that will be that.

According to Wikipedia, the average life expectancy globally is circa 71 years*

“Worldwide, the average life expectancy at birth was 71.0 years (68 years and 6 months for males and 73 years and 6 months for females) over the period 2010–2013 according to United Nations World Population Prospects 2012 Revision”*

That’s it. It’s FINITE!

And so it struck me that there is a time cost to absolutely everything.

Let’s talk about the fiscal value of time for a moment?

Johnny is on minimum wage currently €10.65 in Ireland – let’s say after tax he takes home €7.00. He goes to the coffee shop down the street and buys a cappuccino for €3.50. How much has it cost him? HALF AN HOUR!

Let’s look at someone who earns more than minimum wage?

Rather than splitting hairs on this I am going to use a fictitious employee arbitrarily taking home (after taxes) €24,000 from a full-time job, €2,000 per month. Her outgoings are thus:

  • Rent and bills: €1,000
  • Food: €400
  • Car payments: €200
  • School costs: €100
  • Credit card debt €100
  • Holiday fund €100
  • Entertainment €100

With a take home paycheck of €2,000 per month and on the basis that she works 40 hours per week to earn her crust, she netts €12.50 per hour, therefore we can calculate the time cost of absolutely everything. Let’s look at that list again?

  • Rent and bills: €1,000 costs her 80 hours or TWO FULL WEEKS EVERY MONTH
  • Food: €400 costs her 32 hours or 4 full days 
  • Car payments: €200, 16 hours, 2 days
  • School costs: €100 costs our friend 8 hours, one full day
  • Credit card debt €100 costs 8 hours, one full day
  • Holiday fund €100, 8 hours, one full day
  • Entertainment €100, again 8 hours, one full day

A coffee for €3.50 costs 17 minutes…

A beer for €5.00 costs 24 minutes…

A hair do for €50 costs 4 hours…

The other challenge with time being finite is that it is irreplaceable. Once it is spent, it is spent, and gone forever, never to be recaptured and so the question I am posing to myself as much as to you is what are we spending our time on?

How much time, based on the averages do you have left? What are you spending your precious time on now? Is it what you want to be spending it on? If not, what way do you want your life to look a year from now? What changes do you want, perhaps need, to make?

Remember Money is Time.

I’ll finish by quoting the poet Mary Oliver who asks:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

As always, thanks for thinking with me.

Yours truly.


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Did you enjoy that? Fancy a sip of some of my recent “Coffee with Colm” Blog posts:

  • The Man on the Train and Other Stories LIVE in Dublin – click here.
  • The Eight Life and Business Lessons Hidden in the David V Goliath story – click here
  • Let Go and Let God. Click here.

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FREE AUDIO BOOK. If would like a complimentary copy of my book “Feeding Johnny – How to Build a Business Despite the Roadblocks” in audio, narrated by yours truly so you get all the nuances, feel free to grab one here.

DEEP DIVE. If you would like to go deeper in your own personal journey, you can review the first step in my “12 Steps to Create the Life You Really Want” for FREE. Check it out here.

LINKEDIN. Perhaps the thing to do right now is simply to hook up professionally on LinkedIn – if that’s of interest, click here.

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