The Inflation of Time

inflation of timeOne of my biggest regret is that I haven’t started investing (in a smart way) 10 years ago. Well, looking at those charts let’s say 8 instead of 10 🙂 Maybe I would write this post from a much warmer place then… I’m old enough to realize that I should have started it earlier, but young enough to remember what went on inside my head those times. In order to be a successful investor you need a few things: money, knowledge and time. Well, I was lacking a few of them…


Unless you are coming from a much more fortunate background, money is something that you generally lack of. Of course as you progress in your career you will have more and more income. Nevertheless I only realized how many ways I could have made some extra income since I started to getting more interested in personal finance.

you need money to invest

First of all I could have started a blog. For an extremely minimal or even no investment, the possible income from blogging is limitless. Why haven’t I thought of it before? If you haven’t started already, I strongly recommend you to think about this option. If you don’t know where to begin, please check out my guide on how to start blogging. Within an hour you can already publish your first post. Maybe you will do it just for fun, maybe you will be a professional blogger. The limit is the sky!

Besides of blogging, I could have worked more! There are so many side hustle opportunities out there. Some of those you can do from home (e.g. online consulting), some of them are great for exercising (check out the Postmates review from Financial Panther), but you can name Uber etc.

Even if you invest only EUR 200 per month, based on a 7% average return it would mean over EUR 33k extra after 10 years. If you haven’t started investing yet, do it now!


Nobody gets born with a financial knowledge. You need to educate yourself and the best way to do it is read, read and read. Out of this 3 I haven’t done any…

you need investment knowledge

Nowadays I spend a lot of time reading about personal finance and following other fellow FIRE blogs. I can safely say that what I have learned over these past 1-2 years is probably the most valuable asset for my and my family’s future. Seriously, this should be taught at school. If I started to educate myself about personal finance earlier, I would be much closer to financial independence.


time is money

Time is the thing that this post is really about. You just need to keep on continuously invest and the magical effect of compounding will start to kick in. It’s no wonder why Einstein has named compound interest as the eighth wonder of the world. Just look at the below chart and see the difference between compounding interest returns and regular savings with no returns:

compounding interest chart

You might think that the younger you are, the more time you have, so a young age is definitely in your favor. The only problem is that when you are young, you might have time, but there’s one thing that you don’t have: patience!

Even though I didn’t have much investment knowledge 10 years ago, I was always interested in investing. I still clearly remember opening my first online stock trading account and making my first purchase. I was checking the share price in about every 30 minutes. The next day the price has risen and I have made the decision that seemed the most logical at that time: SELL! I have made around EUR 10 which after deducting the broker fees meant a net profit of EUR 5.

I was extremely proud of myself. Later on I have learned that I can also deal with turbos. With the same amount of investment I can make 100 times more! That would mean EUR 500 profit for the same trade! I already saw myself on a tropical beach, drinking pina coladas.

pina colada beach

“Me in 3 months”

I have never thought about losing. Of course in a few weeks I did lose everything, which was fortunately only a small amount of money.

My next big idea was forex trading. That’s another way to get rich fast. Maybe I would be much better in guessing which direction the TRY/ZAR currency pair will move by 0.1% within the next 2 hours. Well, I wasn’t 🙂

I was impatient and haven’t realized that I shouldn’t go for the dream of getting rich fast. The slow, boring but safe way was not appealing for me at that time. Investing for 10-20 years seemed to be a lifetime. Now here I am 10 years later and wish I could give my past self a huge kick in the ass.

Now I’m investing for the next 10-15 years in order to reach financial independence. I know I will make it and I know that that time will come soon. This time frame seems much closer than it used to seem 10 years ago. Or especially 20 years ago. But why is that?

There is a theory that says that we feel time passing by not linearly but logarithmically. This means we value time based on how much it is comparing to the time of the overall life we spent in this world. One year passing by when we are 4 years old feels the same as 5 years passing by when we are 20. Both equal 25% of our current lifetime.

Do you remember those summer holidays that just never seem to end when you were young(er)? Or waiting for Christmas? For me it felt like the time passes much slower from the 1st of December.

How many times you asked your parents during the one hour drive to grandpa: “Are we there yet?”

Time is relative. Let me tell another quote from Einstein (he was a smart man you know):

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour and it seems like a minute.”

time is relative

When I was 20, waiting 10 years patiently meant half of my life. At the age of 30 it reduced to 1/3. When I’ll be 40, the same 10 years will mean 25%, so it will feel half as much.

Of course 10 years will still be 10 years. Objective things cannot be changed by subjective emotions, but this is still the way how we feel it. And these subjective feelings can have effect on our long term investment decisions.

The Inflation of Time

Hungarian hyperinflationThere are a lot of similarities between time and money. You might say time IS money. Both can be saved, both can be spent, or even wasted. And based on the above theory, both can be inflated.

What happens when there is more and more money on the market? The value of a single unit decreases. In serious cases there can be so much money on the market that a banknote doesn’t worth more than a piece of paper. In Hungary, during the worst hyperinflation recorded in history, money was literally swept on the streets.

The same applies for time. At the age of 5, you only had 5 years in your life (let’s say 5 units). At the age of 75 you will have 15 times more. One year will be valued less, meaning it will seem like passing faster.

What Can We Do?

Of course we cannot turn back time. But we can try to convince the younger ones to be more patient when it comes to investing. Dear reader, if you are in your 20s, you already have advantage vs my 20 year old self. Don’t rush, take it slow and you will get there much faster! Do you know the story of the tortoise and the hare?

Another thing we can do is to make the first steps for the younger generation by ourselves. From the first day my daughter was born, we are regularly investing for her a small amount via a low cost index ETF. By the time she will be old enough to understand what her old man is talking about, I hope this fund will help her to start her own life with a financial advantage. Meanwhile as she doesn’t know about it, she can’t get impatient either. 🙂

If you like the above theory of time, I encourage you to spend a few minutes scrolling through the webpage of Maximilian Kiener, more specifically his digital project about time.

What do you think about the way we feel time passing by? Have you experienced the same kind of things when you were younger? Please feel free to share your story in the comment section!

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Disclaimer: This post or any other information on the site is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice or any other advice. I am solely sharing my idea, plan and progress on early retirement.


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8 thoughts on “The Inflation of Time

  1. Dividend Life

    Interesting points about the value of time. I think time seems to go faster as you age because you value it more, not less. I didn’t value or care about time when young and wasted it. I was immortal and there was always ‘more time’. Now 45 years later, I value every day / month / year and keenly feel its passing. When you have a lot of something (time, money) you can afford to be inefficient in its use.

    Anyway, I certainly agree about the value of investing over time and I used that same Einstein quote in my last post! 🙂 Investing isn’t a way to get rich quickly as you point out.

    Best wishes,

    1. Roadrunner Post author

      Yes, I like this quote too 🙂 Thanks for your comment! I guess we all agree that especially once financial independence is reached, I’m pretty sure that the thing we would need the most is more time to enjoy every minute of real life. Unfortunately there’s one difference between money and time: you can never have more of the latter one…

  2. The Green Swan

    There are no shortcuts on the road to a million! Great post Roadrunner, and some very interesting concepts about the passage of time.

    It may seem like retirement is forever away, but the sooner you start investing the sooner it arrives too!

    1. Roadrunner Post author

      Thank you Green Swan for stopping by! Indeed the best time to start investing was 10 years ago. The second best time is always today! It’s just never too late and I’m sure the results will come continuously. My first year was already a relative big success for me and it’s only the beginning!

  3. Divnomics

    Time is a very rare asset, and one of the most valuable we probably have. I agree with Dividend Life, that with aging time is being more appreciated and therefore you are less likely to ‘waste’ it. Even in reaching financial independence the ultimate goal is to be able to spend time on your own terms, at least for us. It never really was about the money 😉

    1. Roadrunner Post author

      Indeed you can have millions, but if you don’t have time for yourself and your loved ones it worth noting.
      The main reason I want to get away from the 9 to 6 working lifestyle is also not laziness. If you think about how much extra time financial independence would give you and your family, that’s a huge motivation to reach your goal. No matter how much time it takes to get there…

  4. Secret Agent 10

    I received my first share of stock – a dividend stock, no less, McDonalds – at age 9. I ended up selling it at age 23 to pay for something dumb. In this case, the advantage of time was negated by the disadvantage of knowledge. While we can’t turn back time, and I’ve made a bunch of similar mistakes that I kick myself for, I’ve found the best thing we can do is start from where we are, today. Time and patience are our allies – or if we’re fortunate to blow up the get slow model by creating a multibillion dollar Internet company and selling it – are basically all we can do. I’ve found looking back is good just to help us stay focused on what we need to do today.

    1. Roadrunner Post author

      I guess buy and hold McDonald’s from the age of 9 till today would’ve been a better choice 🙂 But when we’re in our early 20s, we think we know it better and the world is ours. Continuous buy and hold is the right way. Wish I have realized it much earlier…


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