Home » Time’s money, but how much? Here’s what Americans think an hour of their time is worth

Time’s money, but how much? Here’s what Americans think an hour of their time is worth

Time is precious, and Americans know it.

To gauge how precious, financial planning firm Empower asked 2,204 adults between March 11 and 14 how much money they thought an hour of their time was worth.

On average, Americans valued their time at $240 an hour. And based on a standard 40-hour week, that puts their perceived value at $499,200 a year, or nearly eight times higher than the average U.S. salary of $59,384.

Because people value their time so highly, many are willing to spend money to get a little more or achieve a happier life, the survey showed.

“It’s a race to find happiness, whether that’s a better work-life balance or a $7 daily cup of coffee,” Empower said.

What age group values their time the most?

How much value you put on time depends on your age, the data showed.

  • Millennials (born from 1981 to 1996) place the highest value on their time, saying an hour was worth $328.84, with a quarter of them pegging that at more than $500 – the highest percentage of any generation. Only 6% of Boomers priced an hour at $500 or more.
  • Gen Z (born from 1997 to 2012) said an hour of their time would cost $266.92.
  • Gen X (born from 1965 to 1980) said their time was worth $215.90 an hour.
  • Boomers (from 1946 to 1964) said an hour of their time is worth $137.19.

Millennials value their time more because of their sense of lost time, like the 2008 financial crisis when many entered the workforce, or the volatility later caused by the pandemic. Record high levels of student debt and some of the highest inflation and mortgage rates in decades, which millennials say have kept them from buying homes, have also rattled them, Empower said.

How much would you give up to get back an hour of your time?

Time is so precious that 26% of Americans said they’d take a 15% pay cut for more free time. Millennials (41%) were the most willing to do so, Empower said.

Americans also would pay someone to do things for them to regain time.

  • Thirty-six percent said they’d rather pay more to get an item delivered instead of driving 10 minutes to get it, the survey said.
  • More than 2 out of 5 Americans said outsourcing household chores improves work-life balance. One-third of Gen Z would pay up to $5,000 a year to save time by forgoing tasks like cleaning and yard work, and 36% of millennials would shell out as much as $10,000 for someone to take on in-house chores and cook meals.
  • Americans don’t like managing their money. More than one-third of Americans procrastinate when it comes to money tasks like paying their bills, and 26% said they’d spend $5,000 annually to have someone else manage their long-term financials, investments, and savings.

What makes people feel wealthy?

Wealth isn’t just about your bank account for most Americans. Sixty-three percent said they “feel wealthy” if they have enough time to spend with family and friends, the survey said.

Nearly one-third feel comfortable taking on debt if it buys more free time or a memorable experience.

Almost 40% of Americans say saving time is more important than saving money, and that figure rises to 52% for millennials, the survey showed.

What about retirement savings?

Almost half of Americans feel they’re running out of time to save for retirement, even though 44% say they started putting money away early enough, the survey said.

Forty-three percent said they wish they could go back in time to start saving sooner, but nearly half said they’d rather have a longer retirement with less money than retire later in life with more, the survey showed.

Generally, Americans remain “optimistic,” though, and “people may be further along than they think,” the survey said.

The average 401(k) balance is $291,810, and for people in their 50s approaching retirement age, it jumps to $580,259, according to Empower Personal Dashboard data.

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