In the late 1990s, California went through a housing boom. Many people bought gorgeous, newly constructed homes out of their price range. After purchasing their dream homes, they had no money left over to furnish the inside. Unable to afford bedframes, blinds, and sofa sets, they slept on a mattress plopped on the ground. Newspapers plastered the windows, while the brand-new floors remained bare.
House-rich and cash-poor, these people had higher-end homes but not enough resources to buy furniture. After spending so much of their income on home ownership, they had little money left over for day-to-day expenses. Overextended but living in their dream zip code, they became stuck in a life of imbalance.
In another example of imbalance, Americans as a whole are cash-rich, time-poor when compared to people in other countries. We live in a 24/7, productivity-driven, achievement-oriented society. While this lifestyle has helped us become one of the world’s most affluent countries, it has also made us pressed for time.
We lament, “I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day!” We check our e-mail when standing in line at the grocery store. We listen to time management books on the way to work. We compile bucket lists for the dreams and aspirations that we don’t have time for.
Studies have shown that the more well-off people are, the more time pressure they feel. In his book Spending Time, economist Daniel Hamermesh defines time stress as the subjective feeling of being “rushed” or “pressed for time.” In his studies, he found that the higher the income, the more time stress that people experienced. In other words, people who are cash-rich tend to be the most time-poor. Many people who are cash-poor end up time-poor as well.
How much time stress do you feel in your everyday life? Americans may have more money than people in many countries, but we also have less time for the things that matter most: God, family, friends, neighbors. More time also means more rest and relaxation for ourselves.
God knows that a money-time imbalance is not good for us. Prioritizing time over money will give us more meaningful lives. If we ask, He can help us correct any imbalance.
For if we spend too much time acquiring wealth, we miss out on the rest of life. We run the danger of becoming like people who are house-rich, cash-poor—having a beautiful, substantial house on the outside, but empty on the inside. Let us build more fulfilling lives by seeking time more than we seek money.
Do you sense any money-time imbalances in your life currently? What can you do to become a little richer in time?
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24 (NIV)