Trading Hours For Dollars
Published 8/31/07 (Modified 3/8/11)
This topic has been discussed and debated by many in the financial community and is regarded as controversial by some. Numerous bestsellers have been written on the subject.
Traditionally, when it comes to making money, most people share the same mentality - "If I work harder in my job, put in more overtime hours, I'll get ahead and make more money." Unfortunately, no matter how many hours they put in, they'll forever be constrained by the laws of nature. There is only a finite number of hours you can work in a day during which you can exchange your available working hours for monetary compensation - essentially, trading hours for dollars, or trading time for money.
The New Approach
The new approach is hard for many to accept as it requires a different understanding beyond what we were taught as children. The new approach places lesser priority on active income and a greater emphasis on passive income generation. Active income would be money earned while putting in your hours sitting at your office desk (trading hours for dollars). But passive income would be money generated from sources such as stock investments, real estate appreciation, rental income, and even advertisement revenue earned by websites that you own. The limitations of the old approach to money are obvious.
You Are Constrained By Time
By trading hours for dollars, you are foregoing time that could be spent tending to other things in your life such as friends and family. You are choosing to spend your time in an office, rather than accomplishing your other hobbies and interests. You don't want to spend precious time working, but you know that to earn those dollars, you need to trade for them using your available hours. The less you trade in, the less you'll earn.
Nowhere is it more poignant than in my own full time job. I blog part time and in my full time, I perform contract work. I earn an excellent income rate but I only get paid when I work. If I stopped trading in my hours, I stop receiving dollars. If I want to make more money and hit extra overtime pay of time and a half, I have to keep trading in even more hours. Of course, no matter how many hours I work, I am always limited by the ever present constant - there are only 24 hours in a day.
You Are Taxed Unfavorably
When you trade in hours for dollars, your earnings are usually taxed immediately and you receive very limited favorable treatment in taxation. The deferred taxation offered by 401k and other retirement investment vehicles are the few taxation breaks available to you. The majority don't even take advantage of this! While businesses can generally use their pre-tax dollars to deduct many of their business related expenses as well as any losses from business related activities, you must use your own after-tax income to purchase most of your day to day items.
Your Ability to Trade Hours for Dollars Will Eventually End
None one can live forever, and eventually there will be a time when you can no longer trade hours for dollars. You will either become too old, too sick, or too injured to work. The moment you stop working and the moment you stop trading hours for dollars, the money will stop. If you had planned ahead and provided for your retirement savings or obtained adequate health insurance prior to sickness, you may be better protected. But that of course depends on how you prepared in advance, and many don't.
Don't Ditch Your Job, But Start Learning About and Focusing on Residual and Passive Income
So what now? Certainly, there is no reason why anyone should neglect an active income source, aka a job. A real job provides social stability, an occupational purpose, and a generally predictable source of revenue. But don't forget the importance of passive income. Learn to plan your finances and understand passive income sources. Invest in the stock market. Invest in affiliate programs. Start an income producing website or blog. Invest in a potentially profitable business run by others. Invest in appreciating real estate. Such sources allow you to earn income even when you are not actively working or trading in your hours. Even when you are sleeping or resting, your passive income sources are still producing for you. Start your progress towards financial freedom today. I'm personally still a very long ways away, but I am slowly inching towards my goals.