1.2bn smart phones were sold in 2014, a 28% increase on 2013. The majority were sold by Apple who pipped Samsung to the post by a small margin. I would like to bet my aging Apple smart phone that very few of those 1.2 billion people had this kind of conversation with themselves while purchasing their phone:

“How much is that lovely shiny smart phone?"

“About two month’s work after taxes, national insurance and all other essential costs like food and shelter. Is it worth it to you?”

“Well, that’s a lot of work, just for a phone... are there any cheaper ones?”


That last question is wonderful: Are there any phones that cost me less of my life?”

My twenty-eight year old daughter wants a new phone. She went to the shop and discovered that this shiny item will cost her £500. She baulked at that. And she wasn’t prepared to enter into a contract to buy it over two years by paying monthly instalments. Instead she has found a reconditioned one for less than half the price. That means less of her life spent earning money to generate profits for a telecommunications company. Smart.

This relationship between time and money works in reverse. My wife and I were crawling along a crowded motorway. At this rate we were unlikely to get to our destination in time. We noticed a toll road that would take us on a slightly longer route and cost us £6.50 but avoid the worsening congestion on the motorway.
We were soon driving at 70mph on a relatively uncrowded road and we reached our destination in time, at least an hour earlier than if we had stayed on the motorway. The vast majority of the other drivers didn’t take the toll road. They made the conscious decision to stay on the congested motorway, because they valued their money more than their time.

How truly conscious are we of the time value of money when we buy things?

Would that help us to make better decisions about how we spend our money? And would it help us to avoid the pain we feel about unnecessary debt?