Paying Mr. Time Machine

How much would you pay? That was the question.

During a fairly long set break at the Yonder Mountain String Band show last night, I was chatting with two dear friends. They’re married with two kids and living a pretty nice and happy life. Pre-kids, they were a bit rowdy and had tons of fun. As we talked, we considered the fact that kids we knew when they were still in grade school are now in college. We felt, as you might expect, a bit old. All around us, 20-something hippies had been dancing all night. My knees hurt. Because I’m old.

Ah, to go back and do it again, we thought.

The thing is, we’re all just about as content with our lives as we can be. We’re financially stable, have perfect suburban families, and apart from never having to work again, we couldn’t ask for too much more. Going back and doing it all over again could mess that up and none of us wants that. That’s when the money-hungry Mr. Time Machine was born.

So, here’s the proposition. You can go back 15 years and live the past decade and half over again. When those 15 years are complete for the second time, you come back to exactly the point in your life that you are right now.

Sound good? Well, it’s going to cost you.

Upon your return trip from the second chance, you owe Mr. Time Machine a certain percentage of your life savings. One friend said, “All of it. 100%. I’d write a check right now.”

That seemed a bit extreme to me. Although money is far from the most important thing to me, I don’t want to give up everything I’ve worked to save. I don’t even want to give up half of it. While going back and getting to relive my early adulthood in an even more fun way would be a ball, it’s not worth coming back to a life I already love and find myself missing a big chunk of the money I have saved for the future.

So, I ask you…what percentage of your life savings would you pay to go back and have another shot at the last 15 years, knowing that you come back to this exact life minus the cash when it is all over?

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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12 Responses

  1. Special K says:

    About a quarter. Only half of our savings could be considered mine. So that could be read as half of my savings and none of my wife’s.

    Could I go back 16 years and avoid my first marriage?

  2. Drizztdj says:

    If I could duck that sign at work, I’d be in for at least half.

    I’d love to know how my mid/late 20’s would have been not hopped up on anti-seizure medicine 75% of the time.

  3. change100 says:

    Since I have no life savings and my tiny 401(k) from the Big Man’s just withered up and nearly died with the market you’d think I’d say 100%.

    But no fuckin’ way would I want to go back to 1993. I wore brown lipstick and combat boots, hated college and dated a string of horrible guys, most of whom ended up in rehab.

    I have the love of my life now and wouldn’t trade him for anything.

  4. Dr. Chako says:

    Zero point zero zero.

  5. BadBlood says:

    Ditto w/the Dr.

    UNLESS….I could change my investment strategy to have twice as much as I have now. šŸ™‚

  6. katitude says:

    Zip. Zilch. Zero.

    Once is quite enough, thank you. I remember what I want to remember, have let the rest go for a reason.

  7. The Wife says:

    Other than wanting to go back and realize how SMOKIN’ my body was pre-kids . . . yeah, no desire to go back and relive it.

    C’mon – I just had so much fun last weekend, I can’t even tell my kids or co-workers . . . why do I need to relive 16 years?

  8. Da Goddess says:

    Like The Wife said, to go back and have that pre-kid body? For that, I’d pay $5.93 (cuz it’s all I have on me).

    I’ve done so much in the last few years…I don’t think I’d have been bold enough to do it back then. I don’t know that I’d have appreciated it.

    And I kinda like my kids.

    Oh, and don’t even start with the ” We felt, as you might expect, a bit old. All around us, 20-something hippies had been dancing all night. My knees hurt. Because Iā€™m old.” bullshit with me mister. I’m older and only I’m allowed to say that.

  9. iggy says:

    excellent question to nosh.

    i’ve gotta go with zero as well. i don’t think i’d be so lucky on the second go-around.

  10. Bam-Bam says:


    I’m surrounded by what I want and need now.
    Why wait another 15 years to be this happy?

  11. StB says:

    Are you able to go back with the knowledge you have gained over the past 15 years, or do you go in blind?

    I would go for 50%. Life is a journey. The experience alone would be worth it.

  12. Annie says:

    Zero. My mistakes are working for me so far…

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