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  • Doug Oosterhart, CFP®

Buying Time: A Top Reason to Build Wealth

With the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, some people may wonder why he was traveling in a helicopter in the first place. Maybe people just think he traveled that way because he was “rich.” As we dig deeper, the real reason was TIME - a finite resource that he wanted to maximize and optimize.

With Los Angeles traffic getting worse and worse, it’s said that Kobe started traveling from his home to The Staples Center for practice via helicopter later in his career. Every day. All the time. He believed that the time he saved by not sitting in traffic he could use to pick up his daughters from school or spend time with the family. In his mind, that was priceless.

When developing financial plans and investment strategies, we often forget about the “why” behind different financial goals. Sure, someone may want to make sure they never run out of money in retirement and/or invest in a tax-strategic way, but one of the best reasons is that people use wealth to buy time.

What if people had to pay for material possessions in time? A cup of coffee - 15 minutes of work. A new iPhone - 2 or 3 days of work. A new house - 1 to 5 years of work! People would probably put a lot more thought into their purchases.

A prospective client once said to me that their goal was to have enough resources to “buy their calendar back one day.” That has always stuck with me. Why do people do what they do? What amount of money are they willing to trade their time for?

Time is not only finite, but it’s also unknown how much of it people will get. Kobe wasn’t done building his legacy or his wealth, but he definitely had the mindset that he should optimize the time he had, albeit cut short.

When one thinks about time and wealth-building this way, hopefully, it puts things in a different perspective. What would make life the most fulfilling? For you? For your family? Recently, some clients have expressed that gifting money to their beneficiaries while the client is still alive would add fulfillment to their lives. Seeing their kids and grandkids have the resources to buy some additional time - that’s powerful.

Life is too short to do the things you don’t want to do and/or do things that aren’t fulfilling.

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