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How does putting a price on time affect our ability to smell roses?


What do you do in your free time? Do you have a hobby? Maybe you like to dance like Bruce or you often go to sports? Do you like meeting friends, going on parties or do you prefer just to chill, lie in your bed and watch TV? What do you expect of life? What is your main goal in life?

After a very busy period of exams I revised how often I used the terms “Wasting time” and “Saving time”. As an economic student, I discovered how I sometimes relate free time and economic value. How I think about how much money could be made when going on a party. Gaining 100 Euro for working on a party or spending 40 for going out with friends?

The view that time should be thought of in terms of money was crystallized by Franklin when he wrote: Remember, that time is money.


Does money actually make happy?

I wanted to get deeper into the topic, see the psychological aspects of free time, money and how the allocation of those “resources” can promote happiness – or not. I remember an old friend of mine saying: Whoever said money doesn´t buy happiness just did not know where to shop. Is that true? What factors do promote happiness? What stops happiness? Are you actually happy?

I found an experiment done at University of Toronto that I wanted to share with you while discussing this topic. The Rotman School of Management asked 53 students how happy and satisfied they are in general. After that the students were provided with ten minutes of leisure time on the internet. They could do whatever they wanted: Facebook, play games, read news. After the leisure time, the participants were divided into two groups.

Group 1 was asked to estimate how many hours they think they would work per week after graduation, how many weeks per year they expected to work and how much they think they would earn per year. This group proceeded directly to the rest of the experiment.

Group 2 had been asked the same questions, but at the end they had to calculate their estimated hourly wage and then proceeded to the rest of the experiment.


Whoever sees time as a monetary good is not able to get to the bride side of life.


In both instances the participants were again asked how happy they felt in general, and they could rate their happiness from 1-5, such as 5 is very happy and 1 is unhappy. The result: None of the participants that had to calculate their hourly wage were happier than before, either happy at the same or at some lower level. All of the participants that did not have the burden of calculating were happier before!!! Thus, when participants were reminded of the economic value of their time, the happiness boosting experience of the 10 minutes leisure time on the internet lost its value.

Afterwards they had to listen to an “Opernarie”. This confirmed again that the participants in the calculate hourly wage conditions were significantly more impatient than their counterpart group. They literally waited for the music to be over and couldn´t feel joy.

DeVoe: The time is money attitude entails that you want to maximize the economic value of your time. You ignore the priceless advantages of experiences that actually make happy. Those who think this way always fears to “waste” time and makes his- or herself unhappy. The Rotman School also stated that spending money for others makes one happier than buying things for yourself!

With this in mind…

I think that the most important thing in life is being happy! Along these lines I wish all of you the most adorable vacations, with a lot of free time and many experiences and impressions that make you happy. Time is happiness!


2 thoughts on “How does putting a price on time affect our ability to smell roses?

  1. Hey Pia,
    your style of writing has changed quite a bit since your first post. Except from having a nicely structured text as always, you are bringing in more aspects to the topic in your last posts than you did before. That’s really good! If you use some more links to connect to your standpoint, the text would represent yet some points of view and make your message even more convincing! Thanks for sharing.

    Posted by mattias | February 9, 2012, 2:16 pm
  2. Hi Pia,
    thanks for that interesting and well-written post, I really enjoyed reading it 🙂
    I think you chose a really good topic for your last post – the tradeoff between working and leisure time is a problem everybody faces somehow in the daily life – therefore, I also really liked your introduction. It was really catching as it was easy to identify with the topic.
    You picked up the reader from the beginning and it was easy to follow your ideas as you structured your post in a clear and comprehensive way.
    Just as Mattias already said, I think it would be very supportive for your post if you would provide some links (as for example to the study you cited), because then the reader who got interested in this topic could review them for some additional information!
    But nevertheless – good job!

    Posted by Elisa S. | February 11, 2012, 8:59 pm

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