On the Quest for Financial Freedom, is Time Working for You or Against You?

by | BiggerPockets.com

Mind is a powerful thing, but a strong mind can also be a dangerous thing — would you agree?

In what way? Well, perception is reality, and those of us with strong minds and powerful imaginations are often guilty of convincing ourselves of truths, which only are such in our own minds, not the reality. Seriously — the smarter you are, the more prone you are to doing what my mother coins as looking for brains up your arse.

There is one concept, however, which is difficult to rationalize the wrong way: TIME. Time is kinda simple in that you have it for only as long as you do — and then you don’t. Simple, isn’t it?

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The Intersection of Time and Money: The Time Paradigm

Simple concepts here. The synthesis of time and money is by definition a moving object. Why? Because you don’t stand still relative to time; you get older all the time, and unless your money is keeping up, the pain is just around the corner.

Guys, there are only two options when it comes to time and money:

  1. Time is working for you
  2. Time is working against you

The reason the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer is precisely because time is helping the rich and hindering the poor. What’s more, it is indeed an automated process in both directions! And it doesn’t matter how much money you earn in your job. In fact, this has nothing to do with earned income.

Related: How to Quit Your Job & Invest in Real Estate Full Time: Steps 1, 2, & 3!

I was talking to a good friend about this. His name is Serge Shukhat, and you should know him from Podcast 60. Well, we are friends for a reason — we understand each other. This doesn’t mean that we always agree with one another, but we always understand each other. Well, in that conversation Serge introduced me to the term Time Paradigm. I knew right away what it was and instantly could relate. Time paradigm is why I do what I do, why I’ve lived for a decade the way I’ve lived… looking to reverse the time paradigm!

Is Time Working For or Against You?

Answer the following questions:

  1. Do you sign your own paycheck?
  2. Is your paycheck automated?
  3. Is your paycheck inflation protected?

If you answered NO to any of the above questions, then time is working against you — period! What this means is that you are a rat in the proverbial rate race. I hope you remain healthy enough to pound the ground — and punch the clock.

Reversing the Time Paradigm

This goes back to the question of what is financial freedom? The answer to all three questions must be YES. In other words, you must position yourself to be in control of your income and wealth, you must position both to be automated to a great extent, and both must be hedged against inflation. Easy!

Related: 8 Crucial Points to Consider BEFORE Quitting Your Job to Invest Full Time


Remember, time doesn’t stand still. As you go through your day today, ask yourself: is this thing that I am doing giving me more control of my money, is it automating my income-generation, and is it hedging me against inflation?

Is time working for or against you? Do you agree with my assessment of the Time Paradigm?

Leave your comments below, and let’s discuss.

About Author

Ben Leybovich

Ben has been investing in multifamily residential real estate for over a decade. An expert in creative financing, he has been a guest on numerous real estate-related podcasts, including the BiggerPockets Podcast. He was also featured on the cover of REI Wealth Monthly and is a public speaker at events across the country. Most recently, he invested $20 million along with a partner into 215 units spread over two apartment communities in Phoenix. Ben is the creator of Cash Flow Freedom University and the author of House Hacking. Learn more about him at JustAskBenWhy.com.


  1. Thom H.

    Great post as always. I always enjoy your articles. This simple concept is so lost on most people, and by default they fall into the rat race category. I was having this exact conversation with my two daughters (both in their early 20’s) over the holidays. Time is absolutely our biggest asset and knowledge is our biggest opportunity. Two things that (unfortunately) most people waste on a large scale. Clearly why the 1% typically remain generationally wealthy. These simple concepts are passed down generation to generation. Cheers to 2015! Keep the great articles coming!

  2. Brandon Sturgill

    Ben, I think there is more to the equation with this…especially with folks like me that enjoy their job, earn good w2 income, and enjoy investing in real estate as well. It is true that I desire to move away from traditional employment and invest in real estate full time, simply because I am more fond of the lifestyle and freedom that real estate can provide. Think about this:
    I get a raise every year of about 4%
    I have tremendous benefits
    I get 3 weeks vacation annually
    I get 3 weeks sick leave annually
    I can earn bonus pay to invest
    All my living expenses are fully covered by w2 job…meaning I can reinvest all proceeds from REI and grow my business exponentially over the next 5 years.
    I will have a good passive cash-flow when I retire (early :))

    I simply could not grow my REI business without working full time for the man…at least for a while. That said, I do agree with the basic concept of your article. Much appreciated!

  3. michael olesky

    Great article Ben! I recently read the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson which is about this concept. He as some interesting charts to illustrate it as well. Like you said, i had never formally seen that concept before, but knew exactly what it was as soon as I did.

  4. Ben Leybovich

    Brandon – my friend Serge would totally agree with you, relative to leveraging your W2 income. And yet, he would totally disagree with you…let me explain.

    What is the exit strategy from the W2 income? You see, you are competing against time. You have to exit from W2 circumstance before life crushes you. The [resumption here is that this is just the matter of time…

    Serge used to have strong W2 income. Yet, while being an employee, he managed and executed the sale of the company he was working for, thereby creating his own exit. Are you doing that, or is this just a highly paid but dead-end job? Are you at the helm, in some way, and therefore controlling the direction of the firm and therefore your own financial future?

    If not, your model is very flawed. You are there – you earn the income – you get the benefits – you invest in RE – until shit hits the fan and you dont! Do you understand? You must be in control, Brandon. Serge was in control of his W2 income. He positioned himself so that he, in fact, was writing his own checks – including a pay-out on the back end. now he is plain just writing RE checks to himself.

    I never had corporate employment. My training as a fiddle player made that rather difficult. Therefore, the only type of W2 income available to me was the kind that didn’t offer any control – thanks but no thanks. This is why I set up a music school, which my wife no runs, and from there went straight to RE. Though my income is substantially lower at this point than Serge’s, I always have been and am currently in control.

    Are you in control of writing the check? There’s no way to dress this pig – when crap hits the fan you will loose it all of your ability to develop a RE portfolio is teed up by W2 income which you do not control. This is a dangerous model, and the fact that the income is quite high and benefits are good makes it that much dangerous – do you see what I am saying?

    Call any time to discuss – you know the number 🙂

    • Brandon Sturgill

      Ben, thanks for the insightful response. I totally agree with your sentiment. Despite the perceived benefits of working a decent job, it literally is a dead end…thus my quest to bust ass over the next 5-7 years and, as you articulate, write my own paychecks. Thanks, again.

  5. Tyler Flagg

    Mr. Leybovich, thank you for another great article. The realization of the shortness of life was what led me to BP and made me who I am today. I love talking to people about the Time Paradigm and I usually start with a YouTube video called “The Time You Have (In Jelly Beans)”…funny concept, serious message. Hope you enjoy and Happy New Year!

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