Time: America’s Currency

Time is money: a belief so common in the United States that we probably do not realize how much it impacts us daily. You probably hear some form of “That was a waste of time” or “They wasted my time” every other day. People are offended when their time is wasted because they see time as so valuable, just as valuable as money. Therefore, wasting time is just as bad as wasting money. 

The culture that time is money is very common in the United States, but not as common in other countries. I first learned about this one day in a Spanish language class that I took last year when my teacher explained that, generally, time in Spanish-speaking countries is much more nonchalant. He gave us the example that, in Spanish-speaking countries, it is normal that guests show up about an hour after a party’s designated start time. After looking more into this topic, it is true! Most other countries do not equate time and money as aggressively as Americans do. Showing up late in America is so frowned-upon that it is typically punished. The idea that time is money to Americans probably comes from our profit-oriented society in which people see time as a commodity. Spending more time working earns you more money, more profit, which everyone wants. When more time to work allows you to make more money, the desire of time and money equate. 

Equating time to money is something people do naturally in the United States. Regarding earning money, most people, myself included, do not like to sit around and do nothing for extended periods of time because they feel like they could be better using their time. They could be working in order to make more money and live an easier life, or they could be studying in order to earn better grades which will get them a better, higher-paying job in the future. Regarding spending money, people put a lot of value in their own and other peoples’ time. Every day, people pay money to order food to their houses so they do not have to leave and “waste time”, and they choose express shipping at check out even if it costs more money in order to get their items delivered faster. People also pay lots of money to see their favorite celebrities live and to go to special doctors’ appointments because using up those celebrities’ and doctors’ time costs money.  The idea that time is money is a commonplace in American society.


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