Life or death
In the time of the Samurai time was a matter of life and death. The swordsman had to be so well trained and skilled, because any hesitation or delay on the battlefield would mean death. This is also the origin of mushin, or no mind (無心). Being able to react faster than the opponent would save the live of the Samurai. Over 800 years of evolution, the swordsmen with the best techniques were the ones that survived.
The Zen master Takuan Sōhō (1573 - 1645) wrote in the unfettered mind:
The mind must always be in the state of ‘flowing,’ for when it stops anywhere that means the flow is interrupted and it is this interruption that is injurious to the well-being of the mind. In the case of the swordsman, it means death.
When the swordsman stands against his opponent, he is not to think of the opponent, nor of himself, nor of his enemy’s sword movements. He just stands there with his sword which, forgetful of all technique, is ready only to follow the dictates of the subconscious. The man has effaced himself as the wielder of the sword. When he strikes, it is not the man but the sword in the hand of the man’s subconscious that strikes.
Buying time promotes happiness
A study from 2017 suggest that time can be bought: Buying time promotes happiness: Working adults report greater happiness after spending money on a time-saving purchase than on a material purchase. The study indicates that although wealth has increased, this is combined with an increased sense of time scarcity. Feelings of time stress are linked to lower well-being, reduced happiness, increased anxiety and insomnia. It even contributes to eating less healthy, less exercise and increasing obesitas.
Spending money to save time, such as moving closer to work to avoid commuting, or outsourcing chores at home could bring you more time and therefore happiness.
You can’t buy time
Another view on time, from two of the most wealthy people on earth, is that time can’t be bought: In the below video, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates discuss time. Warren Buffet says time is the only thing he can’t buy. That’s why his agenda has around 3 or 4 appointments for a week… how much meetings do you have?
Bill Gates: “It’s not a proxy of your seriousness that you have filled every minute in your schedule. Just sitting and thinking might be a much higher priority”
The goal of Financial Freedom or financial independence / early retirement (FIRE) is to achieve more freedom. Freedom to spend the precious time you have the way you want.
On the road to financial freedom, however we want to reduce spending, instead of increase spending.
I believe there is truth in the research on buying time, e.g. paying someone to clean your house so you don’t have to do it yourself. I’m doing this as well. However, the question is whether that gives me more freedom, more time to spend on the important things in live, or does this merely give me the option to make longer hours in the office? The cleaner is then a necessary cost in order to succeed in my career.
In the end, the goal should be to spend less money, save where possible, and by doing so, increasing your savings rate, which will bring financial freedom closer.
What do you think, spending money to outsource tasks is a good thing to do, or not?
Photo by Harry Sandhu on Unsplash