Does Your Attitude Toward Time Affect Your Spending Habits?

The old adage has it that time is money, and it is certainly the case that when we go to work, or when we pay others for their work, we are often engaging in a direct exchange of time for money. However, research currently underway in my lab suggests that the relationship between time and money may run even deeper. To better understand the connection between time and money, we are examining how people’s attitudes toward time affect how they spend their money.

Prior research has shown that people differ in the way they think about the periods (past, present, and future) of their lives. For instance, we all know people who seem constantly to be reminiscing about the good old days, while others seem to view the past as something to be buried and forgotten. In contrast, some people live for the moment, grabbing all the pleasure they can in the here and now, while others are constantly preparing for a future yet to come.

When researchers measure these differences (known as time perspectives) what they find is that people’s view of time is closely linked to health-related behaviors (such as alcohol and drug abuse) and overall happiness. Early results from our lab suggest that people who have a positive view of the past are more likely to spend their discretionary money on life experiences as opposed to material possessions. In general, people who are more likely to spend their money on experiences as opposed to possessions report better relationships and higher overall life satisfaction and wellbeing.

In contrast, people with a negative view of the past are more likely to pursue happiness in life by acquiring material possessions. Psychologists believe that people who feel they have been deprived in childhood attempt to guard against deprivation in adulthood by surrounding themselves with material goods. Unfortunately, pursuing happiness through materialistic pursuits generally results in lower, rather than higher, satisfaction with life.

While these results are preliminary, they suggest that maintaining a negative view of the past leads to unhealthy behaviors and spending habits that do not result in happiness.

At Beyond The Purchase we are interested in how your time perspectives impact your spending habits. We invite you to take our surveys to explore your time perspectives and consumption. To learn about your time perspectives and spending habits, first Login or Register with Beyond The Purchase, then take our Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory and a few of our spending habits surveys: Experiential Buying ScaleMaterialistic Values Scale, and Compulsive Buying Scale.

This post was written by Kerry Cunningham, a graduate student in the Personality and Well-being Lab at San Francisco State University.

Incoming search terms:

This entry was posted in Happiness, Money Management, Research Findings and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.