Monday, May 13, 2013

Turning Money into Time

With unemployment still high, it might not seem as easy as it used to be to turn time into money, but it’s not all that difficult if you apply yourself and are willing to take work or jobs that might not quite conform to your standards.  Heck, I can take 15-minutes to just clean out my closest and start to find things that I could convert to cash by way of a garage sale or resale shop. 

So it’s relatively simple to convert my time to money.  But can I do the opposite?  Can I actually turn money into time?

It’s an interesting question, and one I’d like to answer in the affirmative since I feel that I have in a way, done it.  Here’s how.

Pre-planning
Preparing oneself to truly be able to turn money into time can take a bit of pre-planning and organizing.  I look at converting money into time much the same way many people view retirement.  They plan for a time when their money will allow them the time to do with as they see fit whether it’s traveling, working on the things they always wanted to try but never had time for, or just sitting at home relaxing.  The only difference in my equation is that I am living that lifestyle well before I ever hit the standard retirement age because I planned to do so from an early age.

Goals
But just saying, “I think I’d like to be able to live the way I want to by turning money into time” doesn’t necessarily mean it will work.  In order for me to accomplish this, I had to set goals.  Each year from the time I graduated college, I set strong financial goals for myself, tracked spending, and formulated new goals for the following year in order to push myself to the point where I could begin to turn money into time. 

At this point, I was using the reverse philosophy to turn as much time into money as possible, working long hours, picking up overtime at work, and grabbing extra bucks whenever and wherever I could.

Decisive Action
Finally, I reached the point at which I felt comfortable enough to start relying upon my money to provide me with time to do with as I wanted.  At this point, I had a decision to make.  I could either continue on the path of turning time into money, or I could take a chance and let my money provide the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and try my hand at something completely new, working for myself with the opportunity to work from home, travel, and raise a child.

I therefore took the plunge and hoped that I would indeed be able to turn money into time.  Time spent with my family, undertaking a new and interesting career in which I could work when, where, and how I wanted, and choose the schedule that I desired rather than the schedule some corporate entity felt that I should abide by.

Continued Planning
But my ability to make this conversion didn’t stop there.  It required continued planning and careful managing to ensure that my money kept providing me with enough compensation to enjoy my time as I saw fit.  I had to cut and carefully watch expenses, struggle through some difficult times when I questioned myself as to whether I would be able to make it while away from a regular job and income, and remain at an income level well below what I left. 

I still set goals.  I still work.  I still watch expenses and budget.  And I still covert time to money; however, it’s now on a different scale, in a different environment, and maybe most importantly, on my own terms.

Work to Time instead of Time to Work
The difference between now and when I worked a regular 9-5 job is that once I left the regular work force, I’ve been the master of my own path as my money has allowed me to govern and make use of my own time.  Rather than having to be up and to work my 8:00 a.m., and home again by 5:30 or 6 p.m., I can work for a few hours in the morning, and take a break, go for a walk, take a nap, then work a few more hours.  Or maybe I won’t work at all, choosing instead to take the day off and work tomorrow.  It’s up to me.  Maybe I’ll travel to visit family for a month, still being able to work while there.  Maybe I’ll work 15 hours straight, but it’s up to me.

It’s not so much that I don’t have to work anymore, it’s that saving enough money to leave the “normal” working world (and it didn’t really take that much since I was able to live well below my means, live in a lower cost of living area, and was a good saver) and at least take a stab at a new career, enabled me to make better use of my time, thereby increasing what I could do with that time, and making more of it, rather than sitting in an office all day on a regular basis.

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