Time is not money

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “time is money.” Time is related to money, for sure:

  • People exchange their time for money at their jobs.
  • People choose to pay others to do tasks that will take time away from something they’d rather be doing.
  • People take time to make lunches, change their own oil, mow their lawn, etc., to save money.
  • People pay more to live in a city to cut down their commute time to work.
  • And so forth …

There is one big difference between time and money, which is why time is not exactly the same thing as money.  Time is scarce.  Money can be lost, made back, saved, spent, invested, multiplied.  Time can only be spent.  It provides no return, and everyone gets only so much of it.  When it’s gone, it’s gone.

And when your time is almost gone, it becomes incredibly valuable.  The value of money dwindles to nothing at this point.

Which is why that it’s sad to hear that Jerry Meekins, a veteran of the Vietnam War, has decided to make it his “primary goal” to get Spirit Airlines to change its blanket no-refund policy on airline tickets.  The crux of the linked story is that Mr. Meekins bought a plane ticket from Spirit Airlines, found out two weeks later that he was terminal, requested a refund, and the refund was refused, in line with the airline’s (presumably clear) policy that the tickets are non-refundable.  Additionally, the airline offers low-cost travel insurance ($14 for $300 worth of coverage) that pays out if documented “sickness” is provided, so it’s probable that Mr. Meekins would have gotten his money back with this coverage in place.

Why be remembered for a fool’s errand?

It’s Mr. Meekins’ choice how he spends his final months.  (Maybe he’s already quit fighting the airline.  I hope so.)  What I don’t get is that why he chose to waste any time at all on this issue.  Is fighting for the cost of a plane trip — with an airline that has made it clear that it will stand up to the bad press it will get by not issuing the refund — a good use of his time?  Even if he does get his money back — will it be worth his time?  Not at this stage in his life.

The people that know and love Mr. Meekins will remember his war record, his service, and the other good things he’s accomplished with his life.  Lots more people will just know that he had a bone to pick with an airline, and some of them will side with the airline, not him.  (I think the airline did nothing wrong here.)

He should just let the ticket go.  It’s lost.  Fuhgeddaboutit.  (And, by the way, he should have bought the travel insurance.)

I know that this tiff with Spirit Airlines isn’t his life’s meesage.  He should spend his remaining time getting that out, whatever it is.

Time is not money.  Time is way more valuable than money.

John Wedding

Husband. Father. Web publisher. Musician. John has blogged at Mighty Bargain Hunter since 2005, helping people to recognize life's good deals.

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  1. says

    Time is never money. Time might have a relation to money when you are working for money but even then it’s not money. Pointing this out on this blog might wake a few up that think that way.

  2. Mary Petersen says

    I disagree. Mr. Meekins has decided to make one last stand, his time his choice. Yes he could have bought insurance, but isn’t that really just one more charge the airlines try to squeeze out of us? Baggage fees, insurance fees, what is next?
    Let’s be real, his doctors say he should not fly, that is resonable! If Mr. Meekins wants to make sure no other passenger has to go through this and that is one more contribution he wants to leave behind I say Kudos to him!
    I have started a FB event page called “Spirit Airlines Give Jerry Meekins back his money”…………….if others agree please feel free to join the event!

  3. says

    I’m not sure why he is protesting. I figure that he has made peace with everyone else and has nothing better to do than protest against the airline. I think it is good he is getting his message out. Unsatisfied customers should be heard. Maybe if Spirit starts losing money over this than they will change their policy.

  4. says

    Maybe since he can’t fight against what is taking his life, he wants to fight against something he wins. I am not saying it is logical, but maybe that is the root of the issue. Having said that, I completely agree with you. There are much more important and meaningful things to do with his remaining time than fight a corporation.

  5. Marie says

    My mom spent a lot of her “last time” doing things like this. I think it amused her and kept her going longer since she had short term goals.

    His entire life now revolves around his disease. More power to him for finding a way to do something he considers productive and has nothing to do with it.

  6. says

    Yep, time and money are definitely not the same. I try to monetize my time as much as possible, but like you said, you can never get more time…more money is doable. I think this is why I try to spend every free second doing something that either makes money or being happy with family and friends. :-)

  7. says

    I understand the airline’s stance, but I can also understand how a terminal man — especially a war veteran who has fought many battles in his lifetime — could get fixated on $300. I say the airline should just quietly give in, if only to help him feel he has won his last battle and can die in peace.

  8. says

    I feel the same way when someone gets a seriously terminal case, and rather than spending their last three months bringing their life to a close, they lock themselves into a “fight” with the disease, a fight they will ultimately lose. Maybe they got 3 extra months of life, but it was strapped to a hospital bed with tubes. Not a great tradeoff.

  9. says

    This is so sad… I agree, why make the key item on your bucket list something so pointless? It’s like the antithesis of that Kenny Chesney song about living like you were dying.

  10. Chris says


    So it turns out that it wasn’t a waste, he got what he was after. Some things don’t come down to dollars and cents, occasionally the point is the principle.

    Moreover, he has empowered others to not lie down and take it. Corporations have rules, disclaimers and contracts; that hardly makes them right all the time.

    Mr. Meekins has added another impressive chapter to an impressive life.

  11. says

    All we need to do in life is decide what to do with the time that is given us. Make good use of it while you have it as you never know when it will run out. Enjoyed reading this article, it made me think…

  12. says

    Oh, wow. I think that battle is futile. Whether he gets what he wants or not, it really is pointless.

    On a side note, if you know how to manage time and spend it wisely, you can make a lot more money by working only 1-2 hours a day than by working 12 hours a day. So time is not money but managing your time wisely can make a big difference.

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