When I was in high school, I became addicted to an online game called Farmville. Like many online games, Farmville is free to play, but for just a few dollars you can purchase special perks.
I always considered myself too wise to spend real money on a game that would arguably add no real value to my life. Instead, I spent hours each day carefully planting and harvesting virtual strawberries and eggplant, secretly applauding myself for outsmarting the game’s incessant marketing schemes.
See, in high school I had a tight income, so I kept a tight budget. I accounted for every dollar, setting aside funds for the things I valued, with not much left over. I realized that any purchase I made beyond what I had budgeted for would require sacrificing something else, and Farmville just didn’t make the cut.
But even with all of my careful budgeting, it never occurred to me that I was pouring something far more precious than money into my imaginary farm. Because even though my monetary income may have felt tight, I was, and still am, living on an even tighter “time income.”