Your Money or Your Life: The Power of Working for a Finite Period of Time

YMOYLThis is the twenty-fourth part of The Simple Dollar Book Club reading of Your Money or Your Life. Want to know more?

So, what exactly does that crossover point represent? It’s basically the point of total freedom – the point where you no longer have any association between the requirement to make money and how you spend your time. Better yet, the time you have to get there is pretty definite – you can plot out with some accuracy how long you’ll need to work at something you don’t like.

This little piece of Your Money or Your Life focuses on this implication. When you have a very finite and tangible goal in mind, it’s a lot easier to be motivated to get there. Frugality, instead of being a chore, begins to feel like a tool for reaching your dreams.

Better yet, the destination: suddenly, you have huge swaths of time that no longer have to be dedicated to a job that drains you. Think about the commuting time and all the other demands on top of the time actually at work. That suddenly becomes time you can devote to something else that makes you feel alive.

I attempted to plot this crossover point out for myself and imagined what I would do when I reached it. My work hours would transform pretty quickly into more family time and some extensive volunteer work – I’d love to actually start a small vegetable co-op, large enough that I could spend maybe thirty hours a week gardening at it, but not any larger than that, and earn enough money from it to pay for the supplies and the land. Given that, I’d basically just service families with children and accept applications to the co-op during the winter. This is something I’ve sort of dreamed of doing for a while now, but been unable to do it.

I think this quote from Peter Lynch really took this section home for me. Lynch, who is one of the biggest names ever in stock investing and was responsible for creating the juggernaut Fidelity Magellan fund in the 1980s, quit at the top in 1990 and started spending his time with his family. He wrote a few books and basically dropped off the map. Here’s what he had to say:

I loved what I was doing, but I came to a conclusion, and so did some others: What in the hell are we doing this for? I don’t know anyone who wished on his deathbed that he had spent more time at the office.

I couldn’t say it any better myself.

Tomorrow, we’ll finish up the eighth chapter, “The Crossover Point,” starting with the subheading “Voluntary Action: The Freedom to Choose What You Do and Do What You Choose” and continuing until the end of the chapter. This section appears on pages 279 through 291 in my paperback version of the book.