Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

This is part of my series: American Zombie: How To Stop Being A Mindless Consumer.

In a previous post, I explained how you should measure wealth by estimating the number of weeks you can go without a paycheck. And increasing this number is an excellent long-term goal.

But today, I want to take this idea and put a different spin on it: You should measure wealth by how much free time you have each week. And your goal is to increase your free time, which might be spent on leisure, socializing, and fulfilling activities.

Now there are 168 hours in a week. At first glance, you might think that there’s loads of free time. But there’s not. Sleep probably consumes 56 hours. And a host of smaller tasks gobble your time, like getting yourself ready each day, food preparation, home maintenance, childcare, exercise, cleaning, and laundry.

And then there’s your day job. If you work 60 hours a week, there’s no time—or energy!—left for hobbies. There’s little time left for leisure. In contrast, the person who only works 35 hours will have 25 hours for socializing and leisure. They are far wealthier than someone working 60 hours. And the person who doesn’t have to work at all is the wealthiest of all.

Personally, I’ve created a positive work-life balance so that I have some free time each day. I’m also paying off debts, including my house, so that I have fewer expenses in the future. With fewer expenses, I can work fewer hours. At the same time, I’m redirecting money away from frivolous expenses and into solid investments. With more money in investments, I can stop working for a paycheck sooner.

And that’s the goal: I want to be free to live without a paycheck. I want to spend my waking hours with people I care about, working toward personal goals, and occasionally binging Netflix series.

I want to be free to spend my time as I wish. That’s my goal. And it should be yours, too.