Time is the Only Currency

First things first. Bear with me while I say that time is a currency. THE only currency. As any economist would care to admit, it’s a good measure unit, it’s durable, it’s divisible, it’s fungible, exchangeable and arguably a great value holder.

Hence we all sell our time working for others. It doesn’t matter if you’re a business owner and work directly for your clients, or an employee who works for her boss. You’re exchanging your time, your currency, to get another currency in return; and this is the oldest of exchanges known to man.

While at it… if you’re knowledgable, if you’re more experienced, your time is worth more. Not your money, a dollar is always a dollar, but your time IS worth more. A “senior” makes 100 [INSERT YOUR CURRENCY HERE] — an hour while a “junior” makes 30. The same hour, different currency costs. See how it’s a great value holder?

As Malcolm Gladwell states in Outliers, dedicate 10,000 hours to anything and you’ll achieve world-class experience at any skill. And then charge for it.

Even your income is not calculated by itself, it’s always divided by time. You don’t make 5,000 you make 5,000 a month. If you want to make 60,000 you just have to add a “per year”. So local currency is only as important as the time window you attach to it. That really puts things into perspective.

Following with this thought, a thing therefore doesn’t have a cost in local currency, but time; what $100 represent to me doesn’t necessarily mean what $100 represent to you. You might make those $100 quicker/easier than me. A few -usually overpriced- avocados might cost you an hour of your time at work; an hour of your life.

And that’s why we invented 1,001 solutions NOT to waste time. Hungry? Sorted, we have an app. Do you want to get there sooner? Uber takes you. Grocery shopping? Replicate your previous order with a click. Fresh fruits and veggies weekly at your door? We have a subscription model for that. Vacuuming? Roombas.

And if you think about it, it makes sense. How could I not pay more local currency for a service that saves me time? Am I not in reality exchanging a cheaper currency -the dollar- for a much more scarce one? You had an average of 25,550 days in your life when you were born, and I bet you’ve used at least a third. Are you going to keep saving money, or time?

This thought turns extremely interesting when you think that usually, your income increases as you grow older. The humanistic approach tells you you are more experienced, you are more knowledgeable, but hey! you also have less time left. From an economic perspective, it’s only natural that scarcity drives increase in price. It’s just numbers.

Shouldn’t we then, give time such value in all areas of our lives? The older we are, the less friends we have, at least real friends. Under this lens, It’s not surprising that we make stronger connections with fewer people. Families, partners… We are investing more of this rare currency of ours, time, in a very selected small crowd. I’d be surprised if people didn’t!

The problem with time as a currency, is that time is the only currency we can sell, but we can’t never buy back. So let’s think about ourselves more, let’s think about saving time, and not money.

(This article was originally published in Spanish for The Citizen on January 23rd. You can find it here.)

Entrepreneur 1st. Marketeer. Polymath. Occasional speaker. #UBI believer. I write on ethics, management, #fintech… & the way these affect our everyday lives.