I still remember from ECON 101 the economic principles of supply and demand. I also remember being young and off school for the summer. All that time to fill, and we did: camping in the woods, going over to friends’ houses, seeking parties, rafting and tubing on the river, biking adventures later to become driving adventures (and I do mean adventures). All warm memories, but they were intertwined with wishing for more money to get that better concert seat or more concerts, or not digging for change for a few more gallons of gas. And wouldn’t it be nice to actually have money to not worry about getting the larger popcorn at the movies and actually buying a cheesesteak sub and not have to think that it equaled a gallon of gas. How about bigger money items, like air conditioning? Well, that was the domain of the truly affluent.
Time? Well, that seemed to be in infinite supply. It carried so little value as life experience to that point illustrated it would never run out – just like youthful energy. Money? Man, that was scarce, especially during a recession and, at $1.10 per hour, even full-time employment took a half a week’s pay to fill a gas tank and have enough left over for that cheesesteak sub! Money had value and was used judiciously; there simply wasn’t much of it. Supply and demand.
As retirement approaches in the next 18 months or so, I reflect back by comparing the past, present, and future. As most folks in my age bracket, financial reserves are at their lifetime peak, providing immediate comforts as well as concerns about how long it will last. As important as money is, it takes a back seat to time. As the saying goes, “I always knew I’d grow old. I just never thought it would happen this fast.” While I relish the extra time I will get as I approach the light at the end of the tunnel, I also know the time is clearly not infinite. I’m happily looking forward to the day I can vastly increase my leisure time with daydreams of trips, boating, visiting friends, touring around, etc.
Almost every one of us is in the same situation on this time versus money supply and demand balance. Perhaps only those born into vast wealth, or those born with a chronic disease, have significantly different trajectories on this topic. Similarly, almost everyone witnesses their balance of importance shift from money to time over the years. Later in life, virtually all people value the time more than anything else. One can ask is that from wisdom gained over the years, or simply the realities of supply and demand?
One way or another, you’ll likely end up reflecting on time. Some will have regrets on learning the lesson so late. What about you? How will you spend your time? The not-yet-retired think of precious vacation time or time off as treasured and valuable. It’s in short supply compared to work time. Invest in yourself and your loved ones. Make some memories. Explore your world. Spend vacation time with family and friends. Budget your time with the same judicious nature as you budget your money. My hope is these pages will give you a few ideas on that valuable investment – your time!