Time is money. You’ve probably heard this phrase before.
I would argue that time is the only real money we humans have.
Money has three primary functions. It is a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of value. Let’s see how time fits into all these categories:
Medium of Exchange
When money is used to intermediate the exchange of goods and services, it is performing a function as a medium of exchange.
We, humans, exchange time in return for money but what we exchange is just time. When you order pizza delivery for $10 you spend money to save time. On the other side, someone is spending their time delivering that pizza to you.
Assuming the delivery took 30 minutes, you both value your time at $10.
Unit of Account
It is a standard numerical unit of measurement of the market value of goods, services, and other transactions. It is a standard of relative worth and deferred payment, and as such is a necessary prerequisite for the formulation of commercial agreements that involve debt. To function as a unit of account, money must be divisible into smaller units without loss of value, fungible (one unit or piece must be perceived as equivalent to any other), and a specific weight or size to be verifiably countable.
You can measure time in seconds, hours, years, etc… When you spend time, you can quantify it. This way actions that take more time “worth” more than shorter actions.
Store of Value
To act as a store of value, money must be reliably saved, stored, and retrieved. It must be predictably usable as a medium of exchange when it is retrieved. Additionally, the value of money must remain stable over time.
This is trickier. In general, time has a deflationary aspect. The older you get the more you need it.
The value of time also fluctuates a lot based on your status in life. If you have 3 kids, two full-time jobs, and lots of things going on, having a free hour may be worth more to you than to someone bored.
An extra week worth more for someone who’s about to die than to a 7-years old kid in school. Someone who’s in prison will want time to pass faster than someone who’s enjoying her weekend getaway.
The value of time?
So if time is money, what is the real value of it? How can we quantify it?
I suspect that we can not attach a number to it. Time is a very dynamic currency.
Have you ever wondered why time flies when you are having fun? In contrast, have you ever felt like time stands still?
Time is unique, the more you have of it, the less you need it. The less time you have, the more you need it. It’s a dynamic currency that reacts to only one market signal - you.
Unlike fiat currencies, you cannot “print” more time. Unlike Bitcoin, you don’t know when you will run out of your funds.
Time is scarce, time is exchangeable and time is your only money in this world.
Use your time wisely, be frugal.