Personal Time Machine

Rod Taylor in the movie The Time Machine

One day Greg honestly assessed his economic affairs.

The truth was all too hard to swallow: liabilities were set to exceed earnings for a number of years to come. In spite of employing an array of calculation methods, the math refused to obey his wishes. Damned numbers painted a picture of rather miserable prospects: occupying empty, dirty, microscopic rooms in shabby suburbs; riding dilapidated bicycles or hitchhiking; wearing shoes with holes; zero entertainment; no girlfriends; prison terms for unpaid bills; depression; death of hunger; disposal of his withered body by state (with nobody attending the cremation procedure).

Full of self-pity and shaken by violent sobs, Greg composed himself and decided to embark on a brave venture. Unmistakably, he had to do something to decrease the lavish expenditure, simultaneously increasing his income – a logical way out of the calamity, spelled out so often by highly educated advisors in books written for folks unfamiliar with sophisticated computation (adding or subtracting). Anyway, simple solutions seemed to instil disbelief, perhaps fear.

The mission started with elimination of a few insurance policies and research on extra work through appropriate agencies. In tears, he moved from his comfortable two-bedroom flat to an attic transformed into studio apartment; cell phone contract was scaled down to prepaid top ups; gym membership was abandoned; credit card landed in a rubbish bin. He was preparing for the reality resembling Tom Hanks’s existence in the movie “Cast Away”.

Day by day he was detecting some methods to either save or acquire money. Shopping was restricted to groceries and petrol, whereas new garments, books, CDs, DVDs or other treats had become history. Unwanted items went on auction. He learned where to obtain food cheaper, how to cook, launder and clean his car. Maid was fired.

Greg gained certain momentum and went further by cancelling his online or loyalty accounts – an arduous undertaking as service providers were resisting, begging, setting hurdles, pretending to misunderstand etc. He realised that opening any account was a breeze comparing with closing it down, which smelled of conspiracy and prompted even more efforts to get rid of those dubious customer plans.

He jogged along the ocean, ate home dishes, drank tap water, read free library literature, listened to the radio, explored Cape Town with its hundreds of attractions. All mentioned activities replaced fast-food garbage, fizzy drinks, expensive paperbacks, cable television, trips abroad and running in circles on a treadmill.

After two years of such Spartan routine Greg managed to settle all debts, however a new problem arose: how to spend his salary? Paradoxically, easy affordability of material things for cash extinguished any desire to possess them.

The most phenomenal side effect of his journey though was the one not described by budgeting gurus. Namely, in the process of adjusting his lifestyle, Greg had gained enormous amounts of time. Independence from subscriptions, instalments, memberships or assets reduced the domestic administration to an absolute minimum – there were no nagging payments, correspondence, phone calls, meetings, updates, maintenance schedules, storage or transport arrangements and so on. Because he did not worry about those annoyances, he thought clearer, acted faster, achieved better effectiveness and extended further his time reserves, which could be subsequently utilised to make still more money.

Time is money…

It is wiser to approach financial matters from the perspective of hours slipping through one’s fingers every day – hours wasted on safeguarding manufactured distractions. Each distraction has its price tag, so diversion-seekers work hard to sustain non-productive (frequently unhealthy) exercises – an interesting situation when poverty is keenly pursued.

Greg had discovered that anybody could put in motion a personal time machine to accelerate into more relaxing and (as a spin-off) more prosperous future.

Well, many push on the wrong lever and hurry backwards. It is a matter of choice.

Rod Taylor in movie The Time Machine

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