Study: You’ll Be Happier if You Value Time Over Money

So, you want to be happy. A great goal for 2016.

Sure, you could forever toil away in the pursuit of the mighty dollar to achieve a life of glee – though it’s becoming increasingly clear that it’s a pretty ineffective strategy. Several studies have concluded there is such a thing as an income plateau, meaning you won’t yield any more happiness earning $100k a year than, say, $75k.

What will yield more happiness, however, is choosing to value your time over money, according to new research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. The research consisted of six studies with more than 4,600 participants, who were asked to weigh options like having a job with long hours and a higher starting salary or a program that would result in a job with a lower salary but fewer hours.

“It appears that people have a stable preference for valuing their time over making more money, and prioritizing time is associated with greater happiness,” said lead researcher Ashley Whillans.

There was an almost even split with slightly more than half of the participants stating they prioritized their time more than money, and a participant’s gender or income didn’t affect their decision.

“Even giving up a few hours of a pay cheque to volunteer at a food bank may have more bang for your buck in making you feel happier,” said Whillans, who also used paying someone to do disliked chores like cleaning the house as a spot-on suggestion in line with the study’s findings.

A part of this equation is having disposable income, of course, which isn’t something everyone can claim. The study didn’t include participants living at the poverty level who may have to prioritize money to survive, though Whillans did point out that even marginal changes in how you weigh your values between time and money can make a big difference.

What implications this has on the old adage that ‘time is money’, we’re not sure.