New Research Says This 4-Letter Word is the Key to Happiness

Key to happiness
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If you had to choose, would you pick more time or more money?

(And no, as much as you might want to, you can’t pick both!)

My answer would vary depending on when you asked me. At the moment, I would pick more time — probably because I feel financially stable for the first time ever.

We’ve all seen the studies that say more time and more money lead to more happiness

But new research in the journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science is different: Rather than looking at what people have, it looked at what they want.

Which people would choose more money over more time? And which group of people are happier?

Do You Want More Money or More Time?

The five studies, conducted by Hal E. Hershfield and Cassie Mogilner of UCLA and Uri Barnea of Wharton, asked people to “choose between more money versus more time” and “report their happiness and life satisfaction along with the amount of money and time they have.”

Sixty-four percent of people surveyed chose money.


“Across thousands of adults representing a range of ages, income levels, and occupationsthose who chose more time over money were happier,” the authors write.

And, more importantly:

“This relationship held controlling for both objective and subjective amounts of available time and money, indicating that what matters is the value people place on each resource and not necessarily the amount of time or money they have (or feel they have).”

That means — whether they had less money and more time, or vice versa — people who valued time over money were happier.

Unsurprisingly, time-choosers generally had higher household incomes and worked more hours than those who chose money. But even when controlling for those factors, they were still happier.

“Beyond the amount of these resources people have,” write the authors, “happiness is linked to the resource people want.”

Or, as the study boldly concludes:

“Although time and money are both valuable resources that give hope for greater happiness, choosing time over money promises a happier life.”

Your Turn: Would you rather have more time or more money? Do you agree with the study’s findings?

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.