Stan Crader

Author & Lecturer on Writing About Rural America

Time is not Money

The point of an author’s blog is to give the reader some insight into the author’s mind. And in so doing, cause the reader to be interested in the author’s books. I’m not sure how well this blog thing is working. I hope you find the following thought provoking.

Time can’t be earned, saved, or spent. Walk through a cemetery and read the tombstones. You’ll see the deceased’s name and two dates. I’ve never seen a tombstone with a net worth value engraved. Time is precious; money isn’t even a close second.

What is the damage caused by the idiom, Time is Money? In my case, too often, I’ve reduced a family outing to the cost per hour of the experience. I recall taking my kids snow skiing and after adding up the cost of the condo, ski rental, and lift tickets, calculated how much the skiing cost per hour per person. I thought I was being clever; I wasn’t. The thrill of gliding down a Colorado mountain side was significantly diminished by my announcement of the monetary value.

The true value of the ski trip was time with my wife and three boys. Each of us shared a part of our life during those family trips all cooped up in a mini-van. Those were the days before DVD, so we were forced to speak to each other and sing songs such as, John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, B-I-N-G-O Was His Namo, and other intellectually stimulating songs of questionable origin. Sometimes the only respite from flat and sharp voices was a drive though McDonalds for a nutritionally void happy meal. On, and the flatulence; boys find a way to make a competition out of everything.

Looking back, the things I value the most are the experiences, not the things. And’s it’s the experiences shared with others that I remember most vividly. Think about it. A trip with someone is better than a trip alone. Doing something is usually better than getting something, unless the doing is a root canal or colonoscopy or some such harrowing experience. But even those can be fun if one is creative and maintains a sense of humor and dignity.

What is valued the most, those things for which we’ve saved, or those things for which we went into debt? It seems like a good rule is that the ‘thing’ should outlast the debt, such as a home. For example, using a credit card for a dinner or vacation may be convenient, but it diminishes the total satisfaction of the experience. But saving up for something and paying for it in advance seems to provide more pleasure. What caused the increase in pleasure, the saved money or the time it took to wait for the money to accumulate?

So, time is not money, but time can cause money to be worth more. On the other hand, money can’t buy time. And money spent on experiences evokes an enduring sense of pleasure. And money spent helping others is an investment in people, the best investment of all. I guess that’s why I donate all proceeds from book sales to our veterans. It make selling books more worthwhile.

The next time you hear someone say, “time is money,” respond with, “no, not really.”

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