Category Archives: Delayed Gratification

Are You A Through Time Or In Time Person? It Matters With Money

Are you a “through time” person or an “in time” person?

A good friend once explained to me that there are two types of people when it comes to time. A ‘through time’ person is always conscious of what is coming up next. They know that they have to wrap up what they are doing by a certain time so that they can get to their next appointment. This is  my husband. When he says he will be home by 6.00 pm, I know that his car will pull into the driveway exactly then.

An “in time” person is someone who lives more in the moment. There’s no internal clock ticking away. An “in time” person can be completely absorbed in what she is doing and then realize that swim practice is about to end and she’s supposed to have left the house ten minutes ago to be there for pick up. “In time” people tend to run late for everything. Yes, this is me. I have to work incredibly hard to be on time for things and it’s very easy for me to get distracted even when I am trying to get somewhere by a certain time.

T takes after his Dad and is Mr Through Time. Now in fourth grade, he’s always ready 10 minutes early for school and is often calling out reminders to me that we “need to get going!” M, on the other hand is Mr In Time. He’ll be dancing and singing away even when we’ve told him that he’s going to be late and will he please, please finish his morning routine. He refocuses and not twenty seconds later can be distracted by something else and have fallen off track. (Of course I don’t help matters as I give in to the siren call of the computer and “just quickly” check email …)

I think that how you are with time can impact how you handle your money. I tried finding some research to back this up but couldn’t find anything. It makes sense though. If you live in the moment, you think that tomorrow will be fine to start saving. If  you have that awareness of time lying out before you, then you are more likely to start saving today.

I took a look at how the boys have set up their allowances and it’s easy to see who is the forward planner of the two.


Z and I created a whole new allowance system for our two boys – now age 10 and 7 – about a year ago. The centerpiece of the new allowance approach was giving them full control. We didn’t insist on a Save-Spend-Share philosophy. It was all down to them.

A while back, Z sat down with the boys to help them set up on FamZoo how they wanted to allocate their allowance. T decided that he wanted to divide his allowance so that it automatically went into:

  • College Savings,
  • Life Savings (for things like a car when he is old enough),
  • Goal Savings for when he is saving to buy something in the near future (he doesn’t have a goal right now)
  • Giving Account for charitable donations (so far he has given $10 to buy mosquito nets for children in Africa) and
  • General Account (Spending) for general things like food at the baseball field or a soft drink at the restaurant when Z and I are drinking water.
M took a simpler approach. He has:
  • College Savings
  • Goal Savings (like T, he doesn’t have a specific goal right now) and
  • General Account (Spending).

You can see that M is living more in the moment. He copied T with College Savings but the other two accounts are for his immediate needs – what he has on hand to spend spontaneously and what he is saving for right now.  (He was saving for a major LEGO set but has lost interest over the course of saving for it so the money is growing without a goal right now.)

Z and I definitely reflected our time characteristics when it came to money. When we first opened up a bank account together, we sat down and revealed our financial situation. I was earning more than Z at the time and it was a bit of a surprise to him when I sheepishly shared my very small figure. He, on the other hand, had carefully built up a healthy amount of savings.

A big part of why we introduced our allowance system – and why I research and write this blog – is so that our boys don’t end up in the same situation some day. It’s clear that T naturally has a long term focus. We’ll need to work out how to help M acquire more longer term thinking.

Are you a “through time” or an “in time” person? Do you think it has affected how you handle your finances?


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