I spend entirely too much time thinking about money. I think about not having enough of it. I think about getting more of it. I think about how I’m gonna spend the money I do have, and how I’m not gonna spend the money I don’t have. I make resolutions about money, and then I break them.

I think about the money I want to leave behind for my kids. I wonder about those Swiss bank accounts, and how I can get one for myself.

I’ve always heard the phrase, “Time is money.”  But I’m not sure that’s true in my case. I have many excellent skills, none of which are in high demand for an actual paycheck. So for me, time isn’t money. Which is probably why I spend so much of my time thinking about it.

But I recently had an epiphany during one of my think-about-how-to-spend-the-billions-I-don’t-have sessions. What if instead of thinking about money, I thought about time? What if I substitute hours for cash, and figure out how I’m gonna spend it?

And then my brain exploded. Most people shouldn’t drink and drive . . . I should never think and drive. It’s a dangerous combination.

So here’s where my train of thought went: if I only had $20 to spend on a week’s groceries, I’d be careful with my money. I wouldn’t waste it. I’d try very hard to purchase nutritious, high-protein, high-fiber foods filled with all the vitamins and minerals my body needs. I wouldn’t blow it all on sodas and candy. Or if I did, I’d think very carefully about whether or not the junk food is worth the payoff.

In other words, I’d be intentional with my money, if I knew I only had so much of it.

But I’m guilty of treating my minutes like I have a limitless budget. I act like I’m a time billionaire, with an endless supply that will continue to replenish itself. Why do I do that?

I decided to perform a little mental experiment where I treat time like money. Let’s say I only have twenty years left. Twenty years to accomplish what’s important in this life. Twenty years to make my mark, to show love, to leave something behind that matters.

When I think of time that way, on a budget, wow.

Just wow.

Everything shifts. Priorities get rearranged. And suddenly, I decide to live on purpose, instead of just floating through life on a clockless cloud.

Suddenly, money doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

Relationships are diamonds. People are sapphires and rubies and emeralds. And I want to spend the rest of my time here collecting and polishing each person God places in my life with love. With hope. I want to soak my friendships in kindness and wisdom. Suddenly I want to invest in people, and I really don’t care about the size of my bank account.

There are a few people in this world—not many—with unlimited funds. But no one, no matter how wealthy, has unlimited time. If we all spent our minutes investing in the people around us, if we were to capitalize on our opportunities to make the world a finer place with gentleness, compassion, goodness and love, we’d all be richer. And we’d all leave an inheritance behind that’s worth far more than a Swiss bank account.

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly-perfect children, and far too many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com.