Time is money. A new study tells us how much it’s worth.


Time is precious, and Americans know that.

To estimate how valuable, the financial planning firm asked Empower 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 per hour. And based on a standard 40-hour work week, their perceived value equates to $499,200 per 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 live a happier life, the study found.

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

Which age group values ​​their time the most?

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

  • Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) place the highest value on their time, saying an hour is worth $328.84, with a quarter of them putting it at more than $500 – the highest percentage of any generation. Only 6% of Boomers cost $500 or more for an hour.
  • Gen Z (born 1997 to 2012) said an hour of their time would cost $266.92.
  • Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) said their time was worth $215.90 per 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 time wasted, such as the 2008 financial crisis, when many entered the workforce, or the volatility later caused by the pandemic. Record high student debt and some of the highest inflation and mortgage interest rates in decades, which millennials say have kept them from buying homes, has also put them in turmoil, according to Empower.

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

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

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

  • Thirty-six percent said they would rather pay more to have an item delivered rather than drive 10 minutes for it, the survey said.
  • More than two in five Americans say outsourcing household chores improves work-life balance. A 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 spend as much as $10,000 if someone would do chores around the house and cook meals.
  • Americans don’t like to manage their money. More than a third of Americans procrastinate when it comes to money matters, like paying their bills, and 26% said they would spend $5,000 annually to let someone else manage their long-term finances, investments and savings .

What makes people feel rich?

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

Nearly a third are comfortable taking on debt if it provides more free time or a memorable experience.

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

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What about pension savings?

Nearly half of Americans feel they are running out of time to save for retirement, even though 44% say they started putting money away early enough, the survey found.

Forty-three percent said they would like to go back in time and start saving earlier, but almost half said they would prefer a longer retirement with less money than with more money later in life, the survey found.

Overall, however, Americans remain “optimistic,” 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, that rises to $580,259, according to data from the Empower Personal Dashboard.

Medora Lee is a money, markets and personal finance reporter at USA TODAY. You can reach her at [email protected] and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter for personal finance tips and business news, every Monday through Friday.