Your Time or Your Money: Which Is More Valuable?

Colleen Oakley

time or money
Should you cave and hire the cleaning lady or buck up and do it yourself? And would the money you spend be worth the hours spent not dusting?

How about picking up holiday goodies from your favorite bakery vs. setting aside a weekend afternoon to make your family’s sugar cookies?

Every day we make decisions about whether to spend our precious time or our hard-earned money. And we’re torn on the issue: In a recent survey conducted by LearnVest and Chase Blueprint®, 54% of respondents said, if given the option, they would want more money, while 46% want more time.

And frankly, most of us would prefer more of both.

But what if you’re forced to choose? Below we asked seven people what would make their life easier, more money or more time?

And, the next time you’re trying to decide, here are two questions to ask yourself to help you decide which is the better investment.

1. What Would Your Friends Say?

Research shows that we tend to mirror the people we spend the most time with: Most of us weigh about as much as our friends—and tend to spend on the same things too. In fact, according to financial psychologist Brad Klontz, many of us make decisions based on “money scripts” passed on to us by those we know and love. Just picture your mom (or dad’s) voice in your head, going: “You would really spend money on that?!” However, if you run someone else’s script in your head, rather than obeying your own budget and wishes, you could make the wrong decision (for you).

2. Are You Overestimating?

A little factor called “optimism bias” causes most humans to assume that whatever project they undertake will be successful. It can also cause us to underestimate the amount of time and effort completing it will take. As neuroscientist Tali Sharot explains in her TED talk on the subject: “The British government, for example, has acknowledged that the optimism bias can make individuals more likely to underestimate the costs and durations of projects. So they adjusted the 2012 Olympics budget.” Next time you’re considering fixing that leak in the bathroom yourself, consider how much time you think it will really take, from start to finish, before you sign on.

RELATED: When Renovation Goes Wrong: 4 Homeowners Share Their Real-Life Fails

Now, read on to see why a handful of people chose time versus money in their own lives. Then please share where you’re at on the subject in the comments!


“I’m a teacher. I didn’t take the job for the money, but I’d rather have more time, because then I would be better equipped to juggle the responsibilities of work and home. I’m a mom to two kids, and I went back to work this year after a few years off. It’s been tough, and I’m still in transition. I don’t ever like to do anything halfway, but being super mom and super teacher is next to impossible. I always feel like I’m rushing from one place to the other. I would like to think that with more time, I could be more organized and spend more time with my family.”
Kassi Carey, 34, Missouri City, Tex.


“As a young, single person, I would say that I want more money right now. Being able to set myself up financially at this stage in my life will allow me to have more time later in life, when I have a family. If I did have more money right now, I’d either invest in stocks or buy a house because the market is still favorable to buyers.”
—Brian Kemmet, 26, political consultant, Baltimore, Md.

RELATED: The 2014 Pay Raise Forecast

  • shubbs

    what if you don’t have either?

  • Angela

    I’m slightly torn with this. I value both so closely. I work a standard 9-5 job with reasonable pay. I should consider saving more money for the future but a part of me thinks it may be worth it to hire someone to clean my home every other week to avoid spending time on my weekends doing this.

  • a

    Money is a renewable resource. Time is not.

    • Audrey Knox

      I don’t know why this doesn’t have more up votes.

  • Lara

    I think this article does not exactly do the concept of time vs money justice. Check out this NY Times article from several weeks ago where a poor grad student chose to outsource daily tasks because of the fact that they knew their time spent studying was more valuable:

    This is a stronger case for how to prioritize what is more important to you, I do believe.

  • Katheryn

    I think the problem with living in Tokyo is that it’s so common to work insane hours no matter what job you have. So, even if I did have more time to do things, the people I would want to spend time with are also working a lot. I guess I would just want to have a job that would allow me to choose when to have vacations so that I can go to the US during US holiday times which is a time where the Japanese are still working.

  • goodby30

    “I wish I knew where my time went!”….Wish granted: