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January 7, 2004 7:05 AM CST

A Higher Rate of Return


A friend of mine was complaining to me the other day that he does not think he will have enough money for retirement. He has a decent income, a good standard of living, and a lot of creature comforts that are supported by his current income. He would like to continue enjoying that lifestyle when the current income stream ends upon his retirement. He wondered aloud, "How do I get more for my retirement?"

Now I'm no financial wizard for sure, but I responded with what most people would suggest: "Invest more and more wisely."

If we want a nice nest egg later on, we cannot spend all that we earn. We have to save a little and invest it wisely so that our "Golden Years" are truly golden. Everyone seems to understand this basic financial principle and most people are investing some of their money for the future.

What many do not seem to understand is that the same principle applies to an equally precious resource: our time. You want more productivity out of your time in the future? You have to shift the ratio from "expense" to "investment."

Why should we be concerned about the future? Because that's where we will be spending the rest of our lives. In fact, our time is a more precious resource than our money. Where does money come from? For most of us, money comes to us as a direct result of how we spend our time.

If you spend all of your time in your bedroom with the door slammed shut, the shades pulled down, and the covers over your head, no money will come into your life. You have to use your time to create money.

How do we use our time? We get an education, we interview, we network and develop relationships. We acquire skills, such as bricklaying. And to the extent that we mix all of that together, we get the money that we earn in this world. If you want more money from this world, don't spend any more time, just use it differently.

We all invest some of our time already. We would not be where we are in life now if we didn't. The issue is how much more of our time are we willing to consciously invest?

The problem for many of us is that we find our days and weeks are taken by "expensing" our time. When we spend our time, naturally it's gone. We enjoy a current benefit but get no real significant payback in the future. You and I spend most of our time doing this. We watch a program on TV, we clean the house, we go to work, and do the job. (Arguably, there may be some future benefits from these activities, but they are minimal.)

When we invest our time, like a farmer planting the seeds in the ground, we get little current benefit, but a long-term payoff. You can have the passive mindset that "you get in life what life gives you," or you can understand that "you make of life what you want."

With a financial budget, we allocate our scarce financial resources between expense and investment. We ought to do the same with our time. To get a higher rate of return in our future, we need to consciously invest more of our time. The higher the ratio of time "invested" versus time "spent" today, the higher the payback tomorrow.

Over the next week, we will all have 168 hours. How much of your time will you allocate toward the investment side? The answer is in your control.

About the Author

Dr. Donald E. Wetmore is owner of Productivity Institute - Time Management Seminars, a professional speaker and a member of the National Speakers Association. He can be reached by visiting


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