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Money can buy you everything...right?

Daniel Marsh9 July 2019

It’s a philosophy that’s pretty much everywhere these days. On advertising billboards, on TV, in the media, and on social platforms. Just think about your favourite influencer who’s jumping on the bandwagon trying to promote their latest product that, for the right price, promises to transform your life.

In truth, there are very few ‘things’ that money can’t buy. Some of the better and more cliched ones include happiness and love. (I’ve spoken enough about my relationships enough, so won’t linger any longer on this topic!)

But for me, the most important one is time.

Time is a precious commodity. It might not be a material asset — it’s certainly less tangible than a nice car or a big house — but it’s the one thing you can’t buy any more of.

Sure, those with more money in the bank will no doubt be freer to use their time in their own way, but one fact is immutable: no matter how rich you are, you’ll have the same 24 hours in the day as everyone else.

Warren Buffett (who’s well placed to comment, given he has a few bob) put it well during a great interview with Bill Gates.

Once we accept that time is limited, the next logical step is, surely, to try and make the most of whatever we might have. And to my mind, there are two ways we can do this:

1. Stop filling it

I’m sure we can all think of examples in our day where we ‘kill’ time — probably on facebook, twitter or scrolling through the news. But if it's not adding any value to your life, why do we (quite literally) waste our time doing it?

If you think you’re spending too much time on stuff that probably isn’t that important, try working how much time it actually takes up.

I recently scared myself with the ‘screen time’ feature on my phone. If you haven’t used it give it a go (just look for it in your settings). Not only does it show how much time you’re spending on your phone, it breaks it down by category and app.

It’s actually a pretty sobering experience. I am spending close to a day a week doing things that probably aren’t adding much value to my life. Now a fair bit of that time is spent commuting but even so there’s definitely an opportunity to use that time better.

2. Get help

If you don’t have enough time to get things done, why not ask someone to help you? As is often the case, this leads me nicely to the world of work.

A number of years ago, I was part of a founding team for a new business. When we started out, we broadly divided up the workload (which was massive!) between the 3 of us as best we could.

As the business grew and we built our products and helped our first few customers, we quickly realised that to scale the business properly, we weren’t specialised enough in some of the areas that would ultimately be the engine room for growth.

On top of not being specialised, we also didn’t have enough time to dedicate to each of these areas in order to really fuel the business. So, we did what I’m sure all of you would do — we hired people to help us.

We hired individuals who could not only spend all day focused on that part of the business but, if I’m being honest with myself, could do it about 10 times better than we each could anyway.

And here’s where it gets really interesting for me. I would argue that the main benefit of hiring people is that it allows you to scale your time. In a business context, it frees you up — you have an extra couple of hours in your day to focus on the knottier problems, on strategy, or on building a new, cool product.

But why don’t people carry the same logic through to their personal lives? I find this a little baffling.

Because if you could hire a professional to help you personally, it would free up your time not just to focus on professional objectives, but instead to focus on the more important stuff – what really matters to you.

For me, that’s spending more time with my family.

In my role as a partner here at Octopus Wealth, this idea of ‘creating more time’ is one of the main benefits I feel clients get from working with us.

It’s the knowledge that a specialist is focused on their finances full time and, equally importantly, giving them back the time they would otherwise have spent working on it (and worrying about it) themselves.

After all, when you consider that time is pretty much the one thing money can’t buy, it seems a tragic irony to spend the time you do have agonising over money...

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