In this episode of the Fiscally Savage podcast, Dylan talks about why money is time, the importance of money management, and the ways in which we can act with more intentionality in life.
- [00:31] The incident that made Dylan want to live with more intentionality
- [02:46] Why money is time
- [05:19] Why managing your money is foundational to your growth as a person
- [06:32] Why the energy you bring to events in your life is even more important than time
- [08:12] Why your attention is your most important economic resource
- [15:57] Intentionality as the key to taking control of your time, energy, and attention
- [17:06] The four steps to acting with more intentionality
- [24:06] How things have gone for Dylan since he started to live with more intentionality
[00:00:00] Intro: Forget the civilized path. It’s time to break the chains of debt and dependency, take control of our financial lives, and live free. This is the Fiscally Savage podcast.
[00:00:15] Dylan Bain: Hello and welcome to Fiscally Savage. I’m your host Dylan Bain. And today I wanna talk about a time when I had just bought my house. When I started on my journey towards financial independence, I had this dream of having a house with a backyard that my kids could play in.
[00:00:31] And so, on the first snowfall when we moved here, my daughter comes to me and she says, “Papa, it’s time to build a snowman.” And I put up an out-of-office alert on my work computer because I was working at home and I went out to the backyard that was, had about four inches of freshly fallen snow with that stillness and the quiet that only new snowfall brings. And we built snowmen. We stacked them all up and we made our veritable snowman family with the papa snowman and the mama snowman and my two kids. And we even made little tiny cat snowmen. And then my daughters were standing behind the snowmen just like in the movie Frozen. So when they say “I’m Olaf and I like warm hugs” except it was “I’m Agatha and I like owls.” But when they came to the papa snowman, they stood behind it and said, “I’m a papa snowman and I like to work.” And I thought to myself with horror that I had failed my children.
[00:01:22] I mean, what else was I supposed to do? Prior to this, I had been a math teacher. I was on food stamps despite having a full-time job. And I had vowed to myself to make a better career for myself so I could make a better life for my family. After all, we were standing in the backyard. That was my vision for my family. A house with a yard, a grill on the porch, an ability to look at what we’d built and admire it. And it’s not like I had more time and energy when I was poor. It wasn’t like somehow, we had left these halcyon days in which all of my time was dedicated to my kids. And I felt like somehow, I had betrayed my values as a man, as a father, as a husband. And so I realized in that moment that I needed to shift and rebalance my life and focus on the values for me and that I needed to live with intentionality with one of my most precious resources: my time.
[00:02:18] And so I went back to the drawing board. When I had first left the teaching profession and had become an accountant to CPA at a globally recognized firm, I had promised myself that I wasn’t gonna go for work-life balance because I didn’t believe that to be possible. I was gonna go for work-life separations, that I was gonna engage in the interest of my kids, and that when I was there, I was gonna be there 100%. And now they say that my favorite thing in the whole world is spending time with them.
[00:02:46] Now, you might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with money? And my response to that is it has everything to do with money because, at the end of the day, money is time. Now, we might not like that idea. It might even sound cliché. But if you stop and think about it, you exchange your time for the money that somebody else is giving you, whether it’s a client, whether it’s a boss, whether it’s whatever. No matter what you do, even if you think, “Well, I’m a landlord and somebody else is paying my stuff,” you still have sacrificed your time to be able to have those assets that then produce for you. Your time is one of the most important, precious, and nonrenewable resources you have. There are others, but today we’re gonna just focus on time because it’s the one that’s easiest to see.
[00:03:35] When you go and you are employed in the business of somebody else’s business — so whatever it is that you do for money — you have essentially created an agreement between yourself and them to be able to say, “I will give you my time and the skills that I can employ during that time. And therefore, you will then make money and you will give me a share of that.” So when you are going to work every day, you need to understand that this is a relationship between time and money. You’re giving up units of your time — something you will never get back — in exchange for money that you can use to buy or purchase or obtain the products of somebody else’s time.
[00:04:17] So when you start to think about money as units of your time that you have exchanged with the skill sets that you have, well, then the idea that if you wanna know what kind of man you are or woman you are or whatever it is that you’ve decided you are, if you wanna know what your values are, all you have to do is examine your calendar and your checkbook. Because your calendar is where you’ve determined your time and your checkbook is what you have done and exchanged your time for to fill up that bank account that’s reflected on your checkbook.
[00:04:53] And you might be sitting there and saying, well, hold on a second. I don’t really use a calendar. I just kinda go by the seat of my pants. And I haven’t looked at my bank account in forever. And what I would say is, well, then you actually don’t know what’s really important to you now, do you? You’re not living with intentionality. And a question that would come out of that is, why haven’t you looked at it? That’s an important question that can hit very, core into your growth as a person while you’re on this journey.
[00:05:19] And one thing that I’ve observed over the years as a financial coach and as a CPA is that when people start to manage their money, it’s one of these foundational things to their growth as a person. Because when you start to manage your money, you inherently start to manage your time. You start to really look at what are my values and how I spend my money and my time. And this will then cascade and affect all the areas of your life because money is gonna touch your food. Well, food relates to health. So, therefore, money’s gonna be connected to your health. Your family time and the time you spend with your wife or husband or kids, spouse, partner, cat, dog, whatever, well, that’s in part dictated in how you manage your time. And that also includes how you manage your money because money and time are linked.
[00:06:07] And so often when I’m working with a client, as we start to manage money, I start seeing their time management increase as well. But more important to your life than your time is — like I said, time is one of your most important and precious nonrenewable resources — one of the other parts of this, more important than time is the energy you bring to the events in your life.
[00:06:32] The energy you bring to your presence determines the quality of your interactions. And we all know this on some level. Imagine for a moment that you’re out on a date with somebody and they are internally scared. They might have the laugh and the smile. But it never touches their eyes and that laugh seems a little wooden. That’s because the energy they brought was nervous, even though they’ve put on a happy face. Well, that’s also gonna be true in your economic interactions as well. The energy you bring into the work that you do is gonna dictate the quality of the interactions and the quality of the product that you bring out of that.
[00:07:06] Another example of this is we’ve all been around somebody who feels angry or tight, that they’re, like, clinging to every last bit of energy that they have versus that one person who is relaxed and present. Which one do you wanna be around? Because I imagine that you, we all know that one person who is relaxed and present and when we’re around them and when we leave, we also then feel relaxed and present. That’s because the energy that that person is bringing into that environment is itself relaxed and present. And therefore it’s increasing the quality of the interaction.
[00:07:41] When you start to look at this as a function of how money and time work together, you start to understand because your energy determines the quality of your interactions. The other way that you can look at this is that the energy determines, in a very large way, the value your time carries. So when you’re looking at how can I become more valuable and therefore get more money for the time that I exchange for it, we have to look at what type of energy we’re bringing into the space.
[00:08:12] But even more important than energy is attention. Your attention is the single most important, valuable economic resource in the current economy. Don’t believe me? Well, you’re listening to me on some sort of a device and it’s probably a cellphone. That cellphone probably has different social media apps on it, whether you might even have a news app on it. That phone is set up to get you to look at it as much as possible. It dings, it beeps, it connects to your watch. It even connects to your computers and all sorts of other things. Every single thing on that phone has a share option so that you can share it with somebody else so that you can have your attention focused on how that phone is showing up in your interactions more so than how you are showing up in those interactions.
[00:09:00] The attention economy is the thing that the internet runs on. It’s how the internet pays for its own existence. It’s not business efficiencies. It’s the attention of the people who are operating it that is then packaged up and sold off. And I say this because your attention is the source that your energy spawns from. What you pay attention to is where you put your energy in. And the type of energy you put into it is gonna be based upon what your attention has determined it needs in that case.
[00:09:29] Stop and think about how you feel after reading something on social media that generates outrage — and there’s no shortage of this. How do you show up after that? After you have read a post that’s been handcrafted to be infuriating and enraging and that you just wanna share it with other people so you can just, it’s almost like howling into the void as a release. How do you show up as a husband, as a father, as a community leader when you start your morning that way? And how many of us start our day before we even get out of bed by grabbing our phone and checking something, even if it’s just our email? What energetic charge do you then carry through to the rest of your day?
[00:10:13] And stop and think about that for a second. If we are looking at it and saying, okay, well, the time that I have, I then exchange for money and the quality that I can, the value I can produce in that time and give to other people is determined by my energy. My energy is determined by my attention and my attention started out with something that was enraging. The cascade effect through your entire day and how you show up economically is pretty easy to see.
[00:10:42] But it’s more than just social media. It’s your entire life. For example, anybody who’s met me personally knows that I’m not exactly the smallest person in the world. I am 5’11. I am currently 315 pounds. I’m a pretty fit and strong 315 pounds. But my size takes my attention a lot. I have to think about chairs that I sit down on because some of them can’t support me. I have to think about my shoes. I gotta think about my clothes. When you are my size and you have shoulders like mine, you have to get shirts that fit. So I’m either stuck in a shirt that’s too small for me or a shirt that assumes that, well, if I have the shoulders that I have, I also must be seven feet tall.
[00:11:26] And I point this out because those little things — the discomfort I have with my clothes — sucks attention away from every interaction in my day. When I go to work and I’m here to perform and add value to the company that employs me, the fact that I don’t have the right clothes, that my attention in some small way is sucked up by the fact that my body size precludes me from normal off-the-rack shirts, means that I’m not showing up fully in those interactions.
[00:11:53] If you’re not organized — and how many of us are not organized? This is my constant fight against entropy in my house and in my business, in my car — but if you’re not organized, your attention starts to gravitate to the things you might have forgotten because you know that you don’t know where everything is on some level.
[00:12:14] Let me give you a great example of how this disorganization can actually impact your attention. Imagine for a moment that you have a car and that car is messy. And it’s not that you’re a slob, it’s just that you haven’t gotten to it, right? That’s the excuse we always use. And now you’re gonna go to lunch. And you might have been looking for an opportunity to talk to your boss’s boss alone about a promotion or an interesting project, some way to position yourself as a person of value who move up in your organization and therefore bring more value to the enterprise and therefore earn more money within it. And now you’re gonna go out to lunch and you think, I can give this guy a ride. I get him in the car. You know, it’s a one-on-one elevator pitch situation. It’s perfect except you know in the back of your head that you’re not ready to take advantage of this opportunity because your car is messy.
[00:13:03] And I bring this up because even when I was a teacher, I had this happen with different parents of my students more often than I care to admit. The fact that I wasn’t organized and I didn’t have my car in order, that if people came over to my house, that there would be a mess, was something that was tick, tick, ticking in the back of my head at all times. The fact that if push came to shove, I had to produce a document for a regulator, whether in my account job as an accountant or my job as a teacher. Or that if a parent challenged me on a lesson plan or a client needed a piece of work, if I don’t have that organized, that is going to create a stress level.
[00:13:39] And this is one of these things where, like, people will tell me, “But Dylan, I can handle it, right? Like, on a scale of one to 10, I can handle 10 as the maximum number of stress units I have. I only have nine. Don’t worry, bro. I’m good.” And what I would say is, but your attention is preoccupied because you know if you just have one more, you’re at red line. And you’re living with that stress and therefore not showing up in all the different ways that you could.
[00:14:06] Tying it directly into money, the place where this shows up in my practice a lot is debt. Everybody knows that when you have debt — because money and time are linked — you exchange your time — one of your most precious, nonrenewable resources — for money. And the person who holds your debt has a claim on that money. Therefore, they have a claim on your time and your production. And they collect more than they gave you through this thing called interest. And that interest on credit cards, on mortgages, on cars, on student loans, on signature loans, however you’ve decided to borrow, is tick, tick, ticking away your life in a very real sense.
[00:14:54] Because remember: that tick, tick, tick of the interest ratcheting up is money you now owe. And that money you now owe, you have to exchange time of your life — time you’re never gonna get back — with energy that had to be directed towards somebody else’s purpose because your attention is focused on the interest on that debt, even in small ways.
[00:15:16] And more to the point, because you were in debt, you can never be truly present because your attention in some small way is always preoccupied with that tick, tick, tick of the interest. And even more finer of a point — and I felt this so acutely when I was a teacher and I was working not one, not two, but three jobs — was that the debt limits your choices because that debt constitutes a claim on your future time. You can’t take advantage of the things in your life that you wish to because you’ve already dedicated it to somebody or something else because you are in debt.
[00:15:57] Now, the key to being able to curate your attention to the things that serve you and the key to being able to then direct your energy and the type of energy you need into the time that you have to earn the money you deserve is intentionality.
[00:16:14] You have to be intentional with how you’ve set up your life, how you’ve structured your finances. This is, like, step number one in any type of financial coaching situation. We have to figure out where the bleeding is. And we kind of went over that in the last episode, which should have a link to it in the show notes.
[00:16:32] The thing about that, intentionalities, that you can’t be intentional until you actually know what’s going on, you have to start to address and see where you’re not being intentional, and how you can be intentional in these small ways on a daily basis in order to show up in the way that you need to so that you can have the attention and focus on your needs and your values to create the energy that you need to bring to those interactions to create the value with the time that you have to make the money you deserve.
[00:17:06] So the next follow-on question is, well, how do we do that? So I’ve got four steps here for you on how you can start acting more intentionally in your life.
[00:17:18] Step number one is resolve to accept reality. And you might have heard this before. After all, Jocko Willink talks about it a lot, that you have to accept reality and accept reality quickly. And I talked about it in the previous episode. But accepting reality can be really difficult because we oftentimes do not like to actually look at what is in front of us, where we’re not being intentional, especially when we believe that there’s some sort of moral or ethical thing about the lack of intentionality and we don’t like the idea that we could be a bad person. So when you look towards reality, you have to kind of separate that out and just have a dispassionate look. Be clinical and not critical about what is actually occurring in your life.
[00:18:02] Once you’ve made that resolution to accept reality, step number two is to take an inventory of places in your life, little friction points that are happening, particularly the things that happen over and over and over again. Myself, personally, as part of my everyday carry or EDC, I have a pocket notebook. It’s a little Field Notes notebook. Go online, buy them for five bucks. It actually really doesn’t matter what type you have. So I always have that and I always have a pen. And when something happens, I’ll stop and I’ll just jot it down. This has become a habit. In the beginning, I actually had to sit there and go, oh, I lost my car keys again. Okay, write that down. Oh, I don’t know where the coffee machine is ’cause I use a French press in the morning. Okay, I gotta write that down. Oh, I’m embarrassed that the bed looks like crap. Okay, I write that down.
[00:18:50] And so what I’m doing is I’m taking an inventory of all the little friction points in my life where I know that I’m not showing up intentionally. Direct to the budget, I can look at it and go, bought Chick-fil-A sandwich today; had already packed a lunch. Right? Bought coffee at Starbucks. Okay. Once you have an inventory, so probably about 15, maybe 20 things, and if you are having trouble finding 15 and 20 things, it’s because a) you have to go back to step one: accept reality. I don’t know anybody who is perfect to the point where they don’t have 15 to 20 things they look at and go, I can improve that.
[00:19:27] But step three is — once you have those 15 to 20 things — take a breath and practice grace. So often, we have people who will sit there and say, oh, well if I was just better, I wouldn’t have this issue. Or, well, that’s really stupid. Or, God, I’m such a failure. And all of those things are judgmental statements that are not welcome here. Remember: we wanna be clinical and not critical. Part of that process is to be able to separate out the judgment and say, I don’t need to judge this. I’m willing to accept the reality. Very rarely have you actually had an integrated and positive outcome from a severe, judgmental situation. And I say rarely only because I can’t discount that somewhere in human life it hasn’t actually happened, but in my 40 years of existence, I have yet to actually witness it.
[00:20:22] So take a breath and practice grace because, ladies and gentlemen, as we go through this process, you’re gonna need a lot of grace to get your financial house in order. That’s just how this goes. It’s no different than the person who finally gets a handle on their weight or their relationships or with their parenting. They have to give themselves the space and grace to be able to actually look at it, accept reality, take an inventory, and then they can move on to step number four.
[00:20:49] The key to intentionality is really getting to this step and you need the first three. But step number four is pick one small thing and fix that. I’ll give you an example in my life is that I lost my car keys all the time. It was like this constant stressor for me of losing my car keys. I couldn’t remember where I put them. I couldn’t remember what pants they were in. And then I’d be running around like a chick with my head cut off. I’m short with my kids. I’m short with my wife. And then, of course, I’m gonna be late and I hate being late. And then I’m driving there, and then every red light, I hit every one of them on the way to wherever it is I’m going. I show up late, I’m disorganized.
[00:21:24] Stop and think about what we’re talking about. My attention was focused on the missing keys. And before that, it was on the fact that I didn’t even know where they were. And then the energy I brought was irritation with myself, with the situation, with everything. And then when I got there, the time that I spent was not only truncated ’cause I was late, but it was also not very valuable because I’m irritated at something that has nothing to do with why I showed up to this place in the first place.
[00:21:51] So what did I do to fix it? Well, I talked to my wife and I got her to understand that I need to fix this problem. And then I asked for a small plate to be put by the front door. And that is my EDC tray, my everyday carry tray. What goes on that tray? Well, there’s a small notebook where I keep an inventory, a pen, my wallet, my car keys, and if I’m wearing sunglasses, then I put my sunglasses there, too. They normally hang out in my car.
[00:22:20] Why do I do that? Well, because my keys are always there. I have such a habit that I actually don’t even think about this anymore. I walk in and I empty my pockets right onto the tray. And if there’s something that’s not one of those four things, well, I’ll go deal with that thing. But the car key problem is solved. I always know where they’re at. And what’s more is my kids always know where they’re at. So if I need my wallet, I can say, hey, can you get my wallet? There is literally no one in the house who doesn’t know that my wallet sits on that EDC tray.
[00:22:49] Now, I’m not saying you have to follow this procedure exactly. But it’s an example of how I took one small thing and I have yet to lose my car keys after five years since I’ve implemented this. I have yet to not be able to find my wallet for five years. It was very simple. Such a simple fix, but such a huge impact. Maybe my mornings do go to shit — and it does happen. And maybe I’m gonna be late for something that’s beyond my control. But the variable of my car keys, that small thing — that I got fixed. And now I show up better. I can be more intentional in so many other ways and in so many other place. I have the mental bandwidth, the attention to put towards creating energy for the things that are truly going to serve me because I solved the car key problem.
[00:23:36] And you might be saying there, well, I have never really lost my car keys. And that’s fine. But if you really don’t know where to begin, if you try to make the inventory and you don’t know what to do, well, then if all else fails, just make your bed. That’s it. Make your bed in the morning. Take one thing off your checklist and say, you know what? Before anything else happened, I made my bed. And I have to thank Admiral McRaven for that because it’s not my idea. Lots of people talk about it. But it really is just that simple. To get motion and start.
[00:24:06] And I wanna leave you today with how things have gone for me since I’ve started to live with more intentionality, to manage my time and my money more effectively. Because when COVID hit, like so many people, I found myself working from home and my plans for work-life separation — where when I was home I was 100% for my kids — just completely fell away.
[00:24:26] And I’m working from home, I’ve got these deadlines, I’d taken a couple of projects, we lost a few auditors at work. And so their work had shifted to me and I was turning into the superstar. Just adding as much value to every interaction as possible and getting awarded with bonuses and opportunities and promotions. So when my daughter walked in and tells me it’s time for dinner and I’m looking in and going, God, I gotta get this report out tonight. It was so hard. I mean, I had the deadlines, I had a reputation that was developing, it was a new company that I was working for. I just wanted so badly to just say, you know what, honey? I’m gonna just focus on this. And I thought to myself that my time, one of my most precious, nonrenewable resources, is better spent eating dinner with my daughters.
[00:25:09] And so I decided that I was not gonna give up my seat at the dinner table because that was more important, more in line with my values as being a good father to my children. And that work would be there when I was done. If I had to stay up late man, I have cultivated the ability to grind until the early morning when I need to. And my daughters are worth my grinding if that’s what it came to. And I, of course, have the luxury to be able to make this decision because, over the last so many years, I have built myself financial stability so I can take a hit. If I miss a deadline, it’s okay. So I made the intentional decision to put my work off and put my family first.
[00:25:48] And so as I walked into the kitchen that night, I looked down at the dinner table and saw a recipe that I had never actually seen before. I didn’t know what it was because it turns out my daughters had took it upon themselves to ask my wife to pick out a recipe so they could make dinner by themselves, just my two daughters. That’s a surprise. Because they wanted to make that time special ’cause they knew I had deadlines at work. They could feel, because of my energy and how I was showing up, that I was stressed out. And so they wanted to make something special for dinner. And that was some of the best time I have spent with my daughters in the last two years.
[00:26:21] Ladies and gentlemen, sovereignty starts small and builds with time. The most important thing about earning sovereignty is literally just to start.
[00:26:38] Outro: Thanks for listening. If you like what we do here, please hit that subscribe button. Leave us a rating and review. And share the content with somebody who would benefit from the message. You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, all @fiscallysavage. And head over to fiscallysavage.com to get our free tools, suggested reading, and everything else you need to take control of your financial life and live free.