Time is Golden, Money is Not

Samantha Pozo, Stewart AM period, Honorbound

Upon evaluating a choice or an action, we all begin by asking, why did I choose this, or why did I do that? This big why is known, in economic terms, as our incentive, or the motivating force behind all that we do. As Charles Wheelan explains in chapter two of Naked Economics titled “Incentives Matter,” incentives and “self-interest make the world go round” (34).[1] In our current society, as investigated by a survey from the American Psychological Association, sixty four percent of Americans report that money is their main incentive and consequently a “significant source of stress.”[2] Although now more than half of the American population is motivated to act by “a paper currency that has no inherent worth,” in our future, more people will be motivated by time, which will become a more effective and a greater incentive for the majority.[3]

This shift in incentives as Wheelan explains, “has everything to do with maximizing the value of a scarce resource” –time (31).[1] We have all heard the saying “time is golden” and it could not be more true. According to an article written by Dr. Tina Seelig, she emphasizes that time can be used to make money, but money cannot be used to make time.[4] Unlike money, time has an intrinsic value, and therefore it will become a more motivating incentive. Dr. Tina Seelig, notes that time is “the great equalizer,” something that money cannot be.[4]  Today, there exists a monetary gap between the rich and the poor, but everyone, no matter their socioeconomic status, has an equal twenty four hours in a day. Time promotes higher efficiency and productivity as highly skilled individuals can engage in many activities within a given time. Being motivated by time rather than by money also has labor benefits. In the Naked Economics “Epilogue,” Wheelan explains the concept of a backward bending supply curve. He states, “Economic theory predicts that as our wages go up, we will work longer hours –up to a point, and then we will begin to work less, at this point, time becomes more important than money” (318).[5] We are all always thinking about how we can save time, do things quicker, or make better use of our time; consequently, it is safe to say that money will no longer drive our future actions.

When we truly recognize the value of time, we come to an understanding that time is indeed golden but money is not! In making this shift of leading incentive, we are maximizing our utility by simultaneously maximizing the value of the most precious finite resource –time. With time as our main incentive, the economy, and in turn society, will have more intrinsic value, and have a higher efficiency and productivity.

[1] Wheelan, Charles. “Incentives Matter: Why you might be able to save your face by cutting off your nose (black rhinoceros).” In Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science, 30-53. New York, NY: Norton & Company, 2010.

[2] Schwartz, Shelly. “Study: Money is the leading cause of stress.” CNBC. August 03, 2015.

[3] Wheelan, Charles. “The Federal Reserve: Why that dollar in your pocket is more than just a piece of paper.” In Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science, 218-242. New York, NY: Norton & Company, 2010.

[4] Seelig, Tina. “Time is More Valuable than Money.” Psychology Today. September 20, 2009.

[5] Wheelan, Charles. “Epilogue.” In Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science, 317-325. New York, NY: Norton & Company, 2010.



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