Posted by: edsohn | April 14, 2008

For the next 15 years, would you rather be really rich and have almost no free time, or be very poor and have a lot of free time?

By “really rich”, I mean, you never have to worry about the expense of anything reasonable, like pretty much any car or a house or sending kids to college or having enough in reserve to cover “retirement”.

By “very poor”, I mean, you make a living wage to cover rent and expenses, enough to keep yourself afloat and away from too much revolving debt, but any large purchase or investment would be extremely burdensome and you would not have foreseeable means to cover large expenses, like a car or a house or sending kids to college or having enough in reserve to cover “retirement”.

By “almost no free time”, I mean that your working schedule eclipses the schedules of others, that people can generally know that when they are free, you probably are not.

By “have a lot of free time’, I mean that you have MORE free time than most of your friends, that you have late afternoons and evenings consistently available for your leisure, and your weekends are always your own.

And finally, by “free time”, I mean exclusively time not spent working. Participating in other activities, family obligations, etc., all fall under the umbrella of “free time”, because they are activities that would cease to exist if work were interfering and assigned higher priority.

So, what do you choose?  And why?



  1. really rich and no free time, because these are the best working years of our lives. we can enjoy life and relax at any point in our lives, so you might as well take care of your finances while you’re most able.

  2. time, because time means freedom. our parents don’t live forever, and i don’t want to end up guilt-stricken and regretful that i wasn’t there for them. in the end, what’s most meaningful is one’s presence as opposed to one’s monetary support. also if you go the money-but-no-time route you could find yourself working much later on in life than even you expected, because really, when it comes to our greed, how much is enough? also with the less-money-more-time path i could get a part-time job for supplemental income that i could then put away into savings.

    very good hypothetical, since it was kept simple 😉

  3. I’d choose poor and time any day. I could do so many things in life, none of which require a ton of money. I could write music, read books, spend time with friends, get to know people,

  4. this is not a hypothetical for me– it is reality! and I’ve chosen to be poor and have a good amount of free time, although I always wish I had more time to do more things.

    I think, though, the goal is to be richer so that I can give my babies good food, good teachers, the best opportunities and the freedom to do whatever they are gifted in. So maybe after the next 15 years are over, I will come at another impasse.

  5. What about poor with little free time? Oh, that’s called being in ministry

  6. hahaha! I hear you elderj! good one.

  7. I don’t think you can answer this question without asking yourself, “What makes me happy?” If working a lot and stockpiling your money makes you happy then do that. If spending less time at work and engaging with people and observing the world around you and enjoying a leisurely pace of life makes you happy, do that. But don’t ignore what makes you happy when making this decision! That’s the worst mistake I made. I have spent the past five years working my tail off to be responsible and to make money, and I have been completely, utterly miserable. Slowly I am extricating myself from the idea that life can only be legitimately lived one way, that either way is the “right” way, and now I know what will make me more happy … being poor and having lots of time. Now do I have the courage to live that way? It all comes down to, what is the point of living your life if you’re miserable?

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