Why "time is money" could be bad for you

Ruth Davies 17 June 2014

Changing the way you think about money could make a difference to your finances in the long run – but did you know it could also make you a better person?

Time is money… or is it?

In boardrooms and business meetings everywhere, eyes roll at the phrase “time is money”. Not only has it been overused to the point of meaninglessness, but new studies indicate that it may not even be true. When it comes to the way our thought processes influence our behaviour, it seems that time and money are very different.

A study by Francesca Gino (Harvard Business School) and Cassie Mogilner investigated the way people behaved after being primed to think about either time or money. Participants were asked to complete tasks such as a sentence-unscrambling test. They then rewarded themselves with money for each task they allegedly completed – and were given the chance to lie about their performance. Nearly 90% of those primed to think about money cheated, compared to just 42% in the “time” group.

The researchers suggested that thinking about time encourages us to reflect on who we are, and self-reflection makes us more honest. This is because we are evaluating ourselves in the long-term, rather than focussing on the short-term advantages of cheating.

A separate study, carried out by Paul Piff of the University of California, found that wealthier people were more likely to cheat, violate driving laws and even take candy from children! Piff said that “the increased want associated with greater wealth and status can promote wrongdoing.”

That’s interesting, but how does it apply to my finances?

Most of us don’t find ourselves being asked to perform memory and logic tasks by someone in a white coat in our daily lives. What we can take from this research is the benefits of changing our thinking when it comes to money. By always focusing on short-term gains, you could be missing out on the bigger picture. Instead of concentrating on simply getting more money, why not think about what you want to do with it? You could try replacing questions like “how can I get more money?” with “where do I want to be in 10 years, and how can I get there?” By viewing money as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself, you could get the perspective you need to meet your financial goals.

Getting some perspective

Taking a long term approach can help you to put your day to day financial decisions into context, enabling you to build the foundation for a secure financial future. We believe that everyone should be able to see the big picture when it comes to their money, which is why we created MoneyHub. Our innovative technology allows you to set and track your day to day budget, as well as track your savings and plan for the future.

Why not take control of your finances today, and take your first step towards being the best person you can be?