A favorite topic among students is time value of money … not! But everyone loves money. What it can buy. What it allows you to do. The (temporary) happiness that it brings. But no one likes the formulas for time value of money, let alone the calculations, let alone seeing this in the exams! Yikes!

It got me thinking though … what is the money value of time? In many ways there is already the old adage – ‘time is money’, and of course, in Asia, we often say ‘there is no free lunch’. The latter meaning that if someone is spending time with you, there is a good reason (often the prospect of monetary gain), behind it. But wouldn’t it be interesting to calculate the money value of your individual time, in each instance.

In a conversation with someone sitting in Asia (in a different time zone); who makes way more money than me; we talked about the time we each have to spare for other things in life, after giving some of it away to our employers. Eventually we came to the conclusion that any extra time-with-flexibility, that you get at work, has a money value, and we both put a different price tag on it; which we then added to our pay checks, and compared again who got paid more.

Sometimes this is popularly known as ‘work-life balance’ (I don’t quite fancy this phrase, as the balance is different for all, and some people don’t like balance, some like it heavier on one side, and why not). But in general, all the time you have, if for a minute, we do a thought experiment and say there is a money value (a number) to attach to it and not just ‘what gives you energy’ (which I often hear); for me, the question – What is the dollar value for this time I am spending on this person/situation? …becomes a very important question, which I would then ask myself in a very-high-awareness-kind-of-way of asking a question, repeatedly. Basically, is the person/situation worth my time (in numbers)!

In between the finance concepts and formulas I often tell students, there is no way back in time. Except of course, for Marty McFly in the movie Back to Future. Every day (24 hours quantity of time), that you use, is never ever, ever, ever, coming back. Of course you can run the neuron network in your brain and recall memories, and relive them inside your head … but you still cannot get that quantity of time back. And also not the money you would have tagged to it. The money value of this very finite amount of time as our names, bodies, and occupations.

A revered individual once said to me: the past is a tree, the present is a seed, the future will be a tree. If you see this perspective, you realize the only thing you can really focus on, and put your effort in, is the present, the seed. The present money value of time is then the highest I suppose …

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Over Kiran Aswani

Exploration of human nature has been a lifelong interest, and gathering the knowledge and deeper understanding of the world, a constant pursuit. Having lived on four continents and having been exposed to so many places and persons, I find myself even more curious, and with a heightened awareness. In Fontys, I teach finance and accounting in the International Business program. My blog is an exercise in critical thinking, looking at the intersection between finance-education-life.