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The Greatest Tragedy: Time vs Money

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Editor’s Note

I recently read a gem of a book called “The Millionaire Fastlane”. Despite feeling skeptical by its title, its phenomenal content surprised and delighted me. I’ll say more about the book at the end of this article. Until then, enjoy this article from the book’s author, sharing an important message for us all.

Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows. ~Michael Landon

Today I am confessing something big.

Not many men would disclose this information, but I will.

My two favorite movies are Titanic and The Notebook — yes, two perennial favorites among the ladies and unmentionable by my male counterparts.

How does a guy like me (who like any typical man, likes fast cars, horsepower, beer, sports, and pretty women) come to a conclusion that these movies deserve a spot in the DVD cabinet next to the usual suspects like The Shawshank Redemption and The Godfather?

While the love story in both is tearful, these movies highlight something that we tend to neglect in our lives … and, I believe, is the greatest tragedy of all humanity.

That tragedy?

The illusion that our time is richly abundant when in fact, it is deathly scarce.

In both plots, our protagonists come to this reality as life’s death clock ticks away. In The Notebook, our lovers would do anything for 5 sentient minutes together. Just 5 minutes and when they get it, they beg for time to stop.

In The Titanic, as the ship sinks and few lifeboats remain, Caledon Hockley, a wealthy steel industrialist bargains for his life with a ship’s officer and offers cash for a lifeboat seat only to be rebuked with a stiff certainty: “Your money can’t save you anymore that it can save me.”

Think about that statement for a moment. Your money can’t save you.

Think about how we tend to treat MONEY as more scare than our TIME.

Trust me, it isn’t and I don’t care how rich or poor you are.

On any given day, over $300 trillion dollars are exchanged in the world currency markets — that is $300,000,000,000,000. To give that perspective, you’d have to spend $1 million a day for 8,000 years to spend ONE DAY’S worth of trading value. Nearly 900 life spans!

And yet, the great theft of all humanity remains: People blissfully trade away their time (and their life) for money.

People camp-out on sidewalks for days at Wal-Mart hoping to get a $199 HDTV.

People stand in line for hours hoping to get a free bucket of chicken.

People drive hours to save pennies.

And of course, the worst soul-sucking exchange of them all … your job.

Yes, the good old selling of Monday through Friday for the paycheck of Saturday and Sunday. If you are working a job just to pay the bills (and NOT investing in a business system capable of spawning both free time and money) your return on investment (ROI) is a negative 60%.

That’s right.

A big minus 60%!

In other words, you give 5 days of bondage (doing things you wouldn’t normally do) in exchange for 2 days of freedom (however you spend your weekend.)

Give this exchange some perspective.

Suppose a friend approached you with this great new investment. You give your friend $5 on Monday and on Friday evening, he will give you $2 back. Again, that’s a negative 60% return on investment. Great deal? Of course not!

Then why-o-why in the world do people have no problem trading their time at the same exact dismal rate of return when in fact, it’s our time that is the scarce resource and not money? Time is like a primordial fuel — when it runs dry, no amount of cash can save you from the end. And sorry, there are no fill-up stations.

One of the many facts I drive home in my book, The Millionaire Fastlane is that you can always make more money and yet, you can’t really create more time beyond the confines of your own healthy mortality.

However the good news is this: You can manipulate your TIME ratio because your lifespan consists of two types of time: Indentured time (time earning money) and free time (time spend doing whatever your please). Since your mortality makes your total time finite, the only option to defy time is to transfer indentured time to free time.

In other words, wouldn’t it be great to have MORE FREE TIME and less INDENTURED TIME? So when it comes to our careers, our life, and our time, wouldn’t it be wise to invest in something that had the ability to create both MONEY and FREE TIME?

Such things exist in what I call “The Fastlane“, but it doesn’t come from 40 years of mindless frugality, jobs, 401(k)s, and other traditional guru-speak dictum. If you want to be wealthy in both free time and money, stop being indoctrinated by the mainstream financial gurus who treat time abundantly — a foolish lifetime trade that will more likely make you bankrupt in time, rather than rich in money.

Because in the end when your deathbed arrives, your dying wish won’t be for more money, it will be for more time…

Editor’s Note:

I (Tina) recently and accidentally came upon MJ’s book “The Millionaire Fastlane”. Despite my initial skepticism, I decided to give the book a chance, after seeing all the 5-star reviews on amazon. The result? I absolutely fell in love with the author’s unconventional message and unique perspective. I don’t say this lightly.

The book doesn’t teach you how to get-rich-quick, it doesn’t talk about how to save. It’s a highly practical book on mindset and contains a ton of wisdom and much needed peep talk. This will be one book that I’ll be giving my son, when he’s old enough, to learn about money and business.

If you (like me) want to expand or better understand financial consciousness—regardless of how much money you currently have— I highly recommend this book. If you want to transition from a corporate job to entrepreneurship, I highly recommend this book.

At Think Simple Now, (you know that) I am committed to finding and sharing the best messages and ideas I can find on living a phenomenal life. While making money isn’t the path to lasting peace and happiness; it is on everyone’s mind. As such, I feel that this book is a must read.

Giveaway: Want a Free Copy?

We are giving away two copies of MJ’s book “The Millionaire Fastlane” on Facebook.

To enter:

  1. Join TSN Fan page: Click on the Like button (or skip this step if you’re already a fan)
  2. Leave a comment: under this photo.

I’ll be drawing two random comment numbers on March 7, 2011. Winners will be notified via Facebook message. If we don’t hear from you in 72 hours, a new winner will be drawn.

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About the author

MJ DeMarco is the former founder and CEO of, multi-millionaire entrepreneur, author, and the revolutionary "get rich slow" anti-guru. Not long ago MJ lived with his mother, mopped floors, and sought the dream like so many others: the dream to live free from bosses, free from 9-5 jobs and alarm clocks, and free from life mediocrity. Through rigorous years of self-study, countless errors and failures, MJ cracked the code to wealth and shockingly discovered that it had nothing to do with jobs, 401(k)s, mutual funds, or penny-pinching your life away for 40 years. By rejecting society's preordained "settle-for-less" financial roadmap, MJ was able to retire young in his thirties without sacrificing lifestyle. He lives in beautiful Phoenix Arizona.

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20 thoughts on The Greatest Tragedy: Time vs Money

  1. Lieselot

    And what is the minimum amount of money that you need in this mindset? After all you have to eat and have a house… Or is it more about making money automatically with the things you like doing?

    I am eager to learning more about changing my mindset to transfer indentured time to free time! That would be great!

    Thanks for this interesting article!

  2. Tammy

    Thanks for sharing this book, I can’t wait to read it. I love the concept & I’m going to start embracing it NOW

  3. Lisa

    Great article! I would love to win this book! :)

  4. Wow this sounds like a book I need to read… And then pass on it’s wisdom to my kids too… Cheers!!!!

  5. Ooh I love this! I think one of the most recent discoveries that I’ve made about myself is that if it’s not fun, it doesn’t matter what money can be made. What a reframe, and what a powerful way to calibrate our time / money dynamics!

  6. >>> And what is the minimum amount of money that you need in this mindset? <<<

    That depends on the person, their goals, their dreams, and their personal "wealth" definition. Thank you for the nice comments.

  7. MJ, I love this message. I think deep down inside, we all want to believe that it’s possible to live from our purpose – yet like sheep, we continue trading our lives for things that are less than purposeful. I’m looking forward to reading your insights, and moving in this new direction!

  8. (Giggle) I really liked how you admitted to Titanic and The Notebook as being you favourite movies. It takes a brave man to do that. You’re absolutely right about how people undervalue their time. That’s why I quit my original 9-5 job to start my own aromatherapy business, something that I was truly passionate about. And now, 20 years later, it’s still thriving and growing as an international company. The world would be a much better place if people would realize how valuable their time is, and that they shouldn’t squander it on things that don’t have any personal meaning for them.

  9. Amatibefa

    Sorry, this article doesnt resonante with me. Doing the job I love 5 days a week and having a good enough salary as a by-product means I dont need to sell my time and still live the life I want with the values that are important to me. Each to their own, whatever your path to happiness may be :)

  10. Ali Cat

    Most of that $300trillian doesn’t even exist!

  11. Wonderful post.

    Time is our most valuable and irreplaceable commodity ~ a bank account which mandates daily withdrawals, prohibits deposits, and pays dividends when we spend it wisely.

    Understanding the brevity of life is why I left the practice of law:

    Once you reach a basic level of subsistence, it doesn’t make sense to trade your limited time on this planet for money that you don’t really need to survive, unless doing so adds to your net happiness.

  12. I think this is a great general perspective to have. Many people in our world overwork themselves to simply acquire more wealth. It reminds me of Gordon Gecko on the new Wall Street movie. At the climax, he traded his relationship with his daughter away for a 100 million dollars. He found so much joy in the money, but he found himself incredibly lonely as time passed.

    There is definitely a great balance between time and money. We cannot sell away our very little precious time for the accumulation of great wealth, but also we cannot just believe that we are able to ignore the fundamental needs of providing security and food to ourselves and our loved ones. It is really the law of finding contentment at work.

    Great read and I’m definitely interested in checking out the book.

  13. First time here, really enjoyed reading about time vs. money. Totally interested in that book you featured!

  14. “The illusion that our time is richly abundant when in fact, it is deathly scarce.”

    This is unquestionably true. Thanks for that reminder.

    But you know the saddest thing? Money can be multiplied, time cannot. The only good way to experience time therefore is to invest in the activities that you love.

    And then, as they say, work is no longer work. It becomes fun and you make money while having fun. :)


  15. Hi,

    I’m very curious to read the book. Still a bit skeptical given that it promises so much, but that might just be self doubt if I can put his advice into action. Would love to receive the book and find out.

  16. Do what you love. Love what you do.
    -on my life is good T shirt

    I’m glad this book resonated with Tina (and I’m sure it will for many TSN readers) but alas, I’m just a cog in the wheel/machine and working to pay taxes on 3 properties. My husband and I have done well for our age (34) with a lot of hard work and fun side businesses. I’m not sure reading a book would help me get on a better path or save more $.

  17. I absolutely loved this post, and it totally resonates with my way of thinking. I used to buy lunch or dinner every day but feel bad about spending $10 on a book I wanted to read or more money on some special cake, fancy dinner, or a new computer screen. Recently I realized that money flows, and that it’s not frugal to wisely invest in the things that make you happy. So today I cook at home (and also increase my leisure time with that), try to make my work fit into less hours by being efficient about it, and spend money for the activities or objects that I know will make me happier without looking back. As a result, my whole life is better.

  18. Jytte

    Very inspiring article! Would love to win the book.

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