Frugality buys time

The relationship between time and money is this: When you spend less, you can work less. That means that frugality buys time. On a deeper level, frugality buys freedom - financial freedom, freedom from worry, freedom to spend your time as you wish.

There's a balance, and it is different for everyone. You have to decide how much time you're willing to spend on the present comfort and how much you want to put away for the future.

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Money

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Money: a store of productive time

We're commonly told that money is a "store of value," meaning a storehouse of past effort to use for future purchases. Really, money is a store of (productive) time.

When we notice the relationship between money and time, we realise that wealth isn't necessarily an abundance of money, but an abundance of time. When you gather a lot of money, you collect a large store of time which you can use as you want.

Financial independence is then geared to having saved enough, so you're no longer required to work for money. Yet, many people spend so much time gathering stuff but don't set aside anything for the future.

Experimental studies reveal that using your money on time-saving devices promotes happiness. The effects of "buying time" have the greatest impact on less-affluent individuals.

If you don't want to cut back on your lifestyle or are not able to cut back, you can still use the relationship between time and money to increase your sense of well-being.

An irony of modern society is that many people work more to have more money to buy more stuff, but because they have so much stuff, they need more money, which means they have to work more, which means they have less time. To escape this vicious cycle:

  • Deliberately reduce your spending below the level needed to maintain your lifestyle.
  • Spending less helps fund your future. Living with a lesser lifestyle means you don't need to save as much for retirement.

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Frugality means resisting the temptation to spend more than you earn.

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  • They live in homes just large enough for their needs and drive used cars.
  • They have affordable interests.
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Smart retirement planning boils down to a few simple truths.
  • Time is on your side.  The earlier you start saving money, the more time you give compounding to work for you. 
  • Take risks when you're young.  Although stocks are three times more volatile than government bonds, it earns nearly twice the average annual return.
  • Don't pay high fees for fancy accounts. Every dollar paid to a fund manager is a dollar that can't compound. Index funds charge a fraction of an equity mutual fund because they don't hire high-priced investment managers to pick stocks.
  • It's not about retirement. Saving for retirement might be the goal, but following these steps could provide general financial security.

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