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Digital Subscriptions > Psychologies > August 2019 > The last word on… Valuing time versus money

The last word on… Valuing time versus money

Is there any point to being cash-rich and time-poor? Oliver Burkeman asks which currency is worth more

Say you were offered a better-paid job with a much longer commute, would you take it? Should you order a takeaway, so you can relax instead of having to cook? If you can afford to pay for a cleaner, is it money well spent? These are all twists on the same common dilemma: whether to give more importance to time or money. Psychological research makes it clear that you’ll be happier if you see time as more valuable than money.

But it also shows that the majority of people – 64 per cent in one study* – actually value money over time. If happiness is our goal, some of us have got our priorities wrong. Most of us have to prioritise money in the sense of earning a living – but you still choose what you ultimately value in life. And if you see happiness as being all about money, research suggests you’ll be preoccupied by stressful thoughts about needing more of it – which explains why even multimillionaires can feel that they need more. If you put time first, on other hand, you’re more likely to focus on the delightful ways you could spend your free hours.

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