How Much is Enough – Time and Money

One of the first lessons taught to MBA students is ‘The Time Value of Money’ but the question is more personal when you consider the impact of money on your life. How much money is enough? How much time do I need to work? It is a divisive question that comes down to how you value two valuable resources – time and money.

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy beer and that is a close second..


The flippant quote that money can’t buy happiness but can buy beer (or insert any other consumable here) is actually making the point quite aptly. It implies that chasing the money for its own sake can lead you to prioritising and losing sight of the importance of your own time even when you have the means to buy something you will enjoy.

Back to the Time Value of Money its been recognised for a very long time that money having the money to spend today has a greater value than forgoing the spending to a future date. People often say ‘Time is Money’ but as Harvard psychologist Ashley Whillans explains actually that is incorrect rather we should be thinking that ‘Money is Time’.

Image Credit: Pexels

Whillans has studied adults from around the world looking at the value that people place on time and money. She explains that by having a time centric mindset people achieve:

  • Higher levels of happiness: Right across demographics studied people gain significant happiness from valuing time.
  • Better social connections: When we put our focus on time, we are encourage to also put social relationships first and even short fleeting social interactions can play a significant role in reducing stress and improving happiness. 
  • Healthier relationships: It is probably no surprise that people who prioritise valuing time have happier spouses than those people focused on money.
  • Greater job satisfaction: doing the job you love is a recipe for success, people who value time usually work the same number of hours as people who value money but ironically, they also often make more income because they’re more likely to pursue careers they love. In turn, they are less stressed, more productive and creative, and less likely to quit.

After surveying a few thousand of the world’s wealthiest people and asking how much they’d need to be “perfectly happy.” Seventy-five percent (many of whom had a net worth of $10 million or more) said they’d need “a lot more” ($5 million to $10 million, “at the very least”) to be happy.

Start Making Time a Priority

Whillans recommends three steps to help you start seeing time as critical resource and one for you to value as much if not more than money, because time is the resource more than any other that determines our happiness.

  1. Start by convincing yourself that time is at least as important as money.
  2. Be clear about your personal values and Remind yourself of them when faced with critical decisions.
  3. Make plans that are deliberate allowing you to have more free and personal time across days, weeks months, and years.

Key Takeaways

  • Recognising your time is a valuable resource can help you put the right level of priority on when and where to apply it.
  • Wealth is relative to the time you have to enjoy it.
  • Better time management can lead to greater job satisfaction.
Synopsis of an article from CNBC
Harvard psychologist: The toxic money mindset that even millionaires have—and how to break out of it
By Ashley Whillans
Published: 19th October 2020

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