I keep finding articles that say “5 Ways to Help You Spend Your Time More Efficiently” or “12 Steps to Spend Your Time Successfully” or “7 Ways That Successful People Spend Their Time”. There are even books based on such “tips”. Most of them will tell you to exercise, start a healthy diet, wake up early, set goals etc. You know, all the standard advises that most of us get and perhaps the classic goals that most of us set to spend our time “the correct way”. I am writing the “correct” in italics because I’m not sure if the one who decides what is supposed to be “correct” is you or a third party.
All these advises can be helpful but there is one simple thought that you need to think in order to decide who, and what is worthy of your time. If you have ever spent your money on cash and card, then you can very easily understand what I am going to describe.
How Do You Spend Your Time?
Do you spend your time as you spend your money in cash or as you spend it when you use a credit card?
Think of your answer while I will describe to you a Christmas holidays’ day and how I would usually react depending on whether I spend my money in cash or with a card.
Morning: Supermarket shopping.
- In Cash: I write the list of things to buy. I get a shopping basket. I scan the supermarket and get what is on my list. When I have a lot of choices of similar products (eg bread) I get the package that gives the best value for money. I go to the cashier. I pay in cash. I count the change.
- By card: I write the list of things to buy. I get a shopping basket. I scan the supermarket and get what is on my list. When I have a lot of choices of similar products (eg bread) I get the first I see because “what’s the difference”. On my way to the cashier, I will get an ice cream, because you know, “you can always eat an ice cream”. I go to the cashier. I also get a gum, there, next to the cashier. I pay by card sometimes without seeing the total amount.
Noon: Christmas gifts.
- In Cash: I know exactly how much money I will spend on shopping, which I will put in my wallet so I can restrict myself from spending more again! I go to the shops. I find the best deals my budget can get. If wrapping the gifts is not free of charge at the shop, then I wrap the gift myself at home.
- By card: I decide a budget to spend on shopping. I go to the shops. I buy the gifts. I get one more because “it’s Christmas”. I will ask for the gifts to be wrapped, so I can save some time later for a coffee with friends! “Don’t forget it’s Christmas!”
Evening: Dining at a restaurant.
- In cash:
- How many are we? Five and we all pay in cash.
- Order: “ We would like a salad, some french fries, and five main dishes. Yes, and five beers, please! Dessert is not needed. Let’s not spoil our diet! “
- Payment: “ Here, you go, all in cash.”
- By card:
- How many are we? Five and we all pay by card.
- Order: “ We would like a salad, some french fries, or rather better two salads, two french fries, and a five main dishes with two more side dishes. Yes and 5 beers for now and we will get some more later. Of course some dessert too! We will start the diet tomorrow!”
- Payment: “ Please charge the card. What did you say? Have I reached the credit limit? No problem, please my second card.”
- In cash: I have some money left in my wallet as I know exactly where and what I spend. So, I can continue enjoying my holidays and dedicate my money to things that matter.
- By card: My card is overcharged. In order not to face more problems, I must sacrifice some important things in the coming days. Why did I order the second french fries and the dessert…
I hope you smiled a little bit with the above and that might also have seen yourself in the different scenarios above.
Except from making you smile, with the above scenarios I wanted to show the following:
- In cash
- We are more careful in where we spend our money. We seek for the best value for money.
- We know how much money we have left at the end of each transaction.
- We are better prepared on where to spend our money and we hardly allow ourselves to diverge.
- By card
- We spend a lot more money.
- It’s easier to drift into unnecessary waste.
- Because we do not know exactly how much money we have, we can reach our card limit when it will be too late to change our behaviour.
I guess you didn’t need me to highlight those points.
Think about the following…
Treat Your Time As Your Bank Account.
See the minutes you have in this life like the money on the bank account. See the different activities, the different people and everything you spend time on, like the things you can buy with your money. See, that is, where you spend your minutes as to where you spend your money.
But think wisely because:
- in this “bank account” you do not know how much money you start with and how much you have left,
- you only have one card,
- when you have no money left, then that’s it…
So did you answer the question I asked you earlier?
Do you spend your money in cash or by card?
Why Do We Spend Our Time As If We Had Plenty?
We do not know how many more days we have in front of us. Time is a fuzzy concept in our minds. So fuzzy that we rarely realize how it passes. How many times has it occurred to you to say “wow time really flies…”. Most of us, we tend to not think about the end of our time, so we don’t manage it as we would if we knew how much we have left. Many obligations, situations and people “battle” for our limited minutes every day. But these minutes will be gone and they are not coming back.
The truth, however, is that time will continue passing whether we want it or not. Our “bank account”, that is, our time, is decreasing. Each day that passes, takes something out from that account.
“You live as if you were destined to live forever, no thought of your frailty ever enters your head, of how much time has already gone by you take no heed. You squander time as if you drew from a full and abundant supply, though all the while that day which you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last.”
Start Spending Your Minutes In Cash.
The great Stoic Seneca said he would not let anyone spend his day. My purpose is not to scare you. My purpose is not to teach you any lessons about how to spend your time. What I want to tell you is that no matter how you decide to spend your time, remember that unlike money, you can not find more. I do not suggest you be “stingy” with your time. Just the next time you have an “obligation” to attend to ask yourself: “Is it really worth spending my money there?“. I hope you cut your card and start using cash so you start thinking a bit more how much you spend and on what. I try to do this as well!
Everyone in Erratic Compass wants to make the most of our everyday lives! Spending time for yourself and helping those around you is something you will surely not regret when you realise that time passes by quickly. For sure, time flies, but you cannot do anything about it. Instead, what you can do is try new things meet amazing, new people and learn how to live! If your path brings you to Athens, Greece, you are always welcome to dedicate some of your minutes to a new activity !