Monday, July 11, 2016

Time, Money and Happiness

On the flight home from our vacation, I couldn’t sleep.  (Next time, I will travel business class.) So, I had a lot of time. I thought about the inter-relationship between time, money and happiness. After thinking more, this stuff is pretty obvious - so I will try to explain this concept to my son.

Normally, people can attain one out of the three. A lot of us will get two during our lives. Only a lucky few will attain all three.

For most of us when we are young, we have lots of time, but not much money. After years of work, saving and investing, we may have lots of money, but we have no time to spend it.  People say time is money - and I agree. When you have time, you can make lots of money. Example $10,000 invested in JNJ in 1986 (30 years ago). But money is not time. You can't buy 30 more years when you are in the 90s. There is a time premium that changes with time.  When you are young, time is cheap. When you are old, time is expensive.

We often try to pursue happiness. But without time or money, it is difficult to achieve. A recent article on BBC-news showed that the happiest age is between 65 to 75. After that, there are health issues/loneliness etc.  The next age range of happiness is between 16 and 21. Clearly, work and happiness don't go together. Moreover, the study shows that the least happiest age is between 45 and 60 when worries about finance and retirement come into play. Also, college education costs for your kids.

Then there’s health. You can increase the time you have by improving and maintaining your health. Smoking and bad habits will decrease your health and reduce the time you have. People in good health are usually happier. People in good health are usually wealthier.

When I was on my vacation, I feel like having all three - Time, Money and Happiness. But this is just temporary feeling - until my investments can fully cover my expenses and more. If I am still healthy by that time, I may be lucky to get all three.

Let’s take a look how time, money and happiness can affect your life.

Time Only

Probably all of us when we moment when we born we have all the time in the world. We don’t know anything about money. We don’t know anything about happiness. Over time though, this can be pretty depressing if this is the only thing you have. It is like being in prison.

Money Only

Friends and family are very important. At the end of life, if all you have is money, then this is another sad state to be in. Sometimes, we get surprised when you read stories about janitors saving millions before they die and then passing their wealth to institutions because they have no family, or no one they can trust.

Happiness Only

Based on today’s economic environment, I see this as the common path for a lot of us. We will get old with no time left. We will have no money saved. At least we have our friends, families and our faith to keep us going.

Time and Money

When I was in college I met some folks who were young and had more the money in the world, but they’re not happy. They were born into wealth. Their parents sent them to boarding school, because they had to keep up with the Joneses. The kids were not happy - and were just cruising in life with no goals. Quite a few of them dropped out the 1st year, problems with drinking, drugs and gambling. Like, they say, money isn’t everything.

Time and Happiness

This fits me the most when I was young. In general, I was happy. I had a lot of time. But, our family wasn’t wealthy. We have the classical working class. With a good working habit, education, saving and investing, I am starting to make good money, and more importantly, my invested money is making more money. I just also very lucky to have invested in my 401k even though I didn't know what to do.

Money and Happiness

Even when you do everything correctly - saving and investing, doing the things you enjoy in life, time will eventually run out. Sometimes, I feel that the system to rigged to get you to work until you die. Until you have no time left. Therefore, it is important to look after your health. I recently met an elderly man who told me that at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much you make during your life, at the end of it, all you care about is your health.

Time, Money and Happiness
A lot of our fellow bloggers have already achieved this. They have reached FI. Some of them are still young. And, they seem very happy - at least based on their blogs. I think this is the ultimate goal for all of us. Not just to make money, but to be able to have the time to spent it and to enjoy it with the ones we love.

So, what can you do?

Make use of your time intelligently. Staying healthy will extend the time, and reduce the time premium costs. Active body, active mind - like they say. Spend time with your friends and family. Pursue your faith. Make it a priority. Do the things you enjoy doing. If a job is not right, change the job. If a job requires more skill, go back to school. Get a good education, work, save and invest early and wisely. The earlier you start the better. You have more time for the magic of compounding and reinvestment. Don’t let compounding kill you. Manage your debt. Remember to be patient. Remember to keep things simple.
Overall, have fun. Take a vacation (to Vietnam for example). Enjoy everything minute of life with the people you love.

All of this stuff is just common sense - and I am sure a lot of us from this blogging community will reach the magic intersection of time, money and happiness.


Disclosure - Long JNJ


  1. Great post, Div4Son. Its too bad that only a few get to achieve all three in life. We can all strive to get to that point. Taking a step back and usually during major life events or vacations -- and reevaluating helps us to refocus. Thanks for sharing this thought with us all.

    Hope you had a great vacation.


    1. Roadmap2Retire,
      Thanks for your support. Yeah - sometimes, it takes a life event or vacation (or driving to the middle of nowhere) to take a step back and see what the important things are in your life. I hope my son get to read it early so that he can get all three in his lifetime.

  2. Thanks for the article D4S.
    Let's keep at it bud and hope to attain all 3. As long as we try, and enjoy the ride... that's all that matters.
    Cheers bud.

    1. Dividend Hustler, I think you will get all three at the rate you are going!
      Thanks for visiting! D4s