Is Time Still Money? Americans Say Cost More Important than Time When Making Purchases

AICPA Survey Finds Personal Technology Can Help People Budget
Their Time and Money

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Time is money, the old adage goes. But many Americans value their money
more than their time, according to a new survey from the American
Institute of CPAs (AICPA). The survey explores whether Americans are
more likely to opt for extra money in their pockets or extra time on
their hands. Whether it’s paying a service to clean your home while
you’re at work, taking a more expensive direct flight to save time, or
driving a longer route to avoid tolls, everyday people choose between
spending their hard-earned cash or their valuable time.


While a majority of Americans (59 percent) say cost and time are equally
important when it comes to purchasing decisions, nearly three times as
many say the cost (30 percent) is more important than time and energy
involved (11 percent). That’s according to a new telephone survey of
1,018 adults conducted in March 2017 for the AICPA by Harris Poll in
support of National Financial Capability Month.

Coming off a recession, it is not surprising that we see so many
Americans favoring cost, cautiously making decisions to protect their
money. In fact, while most Americans (61 percent) say budgeting time and
finances are equally important, Americans are more likely to say
budgeting their finances (24 percent) is more important than budgeting
their time (15 percent). Fascinatingly, this approximate ratio holds up
across all generations and stays fairly consistent regardless of
retirement status and household income.

“Every day, people make purchasing decisions which factor the cost to
them in both time and money. Advancements in personal technology,
coupled with the rise in services that offer ways to outsource or
expedite tasks, have ushered in an on-demand culture that has the
potential to lure them into spending beyond their means for the sake of
convenience,” said Greg Anton, CPA, CGMA, and chair of the AICPA’s
National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “It’s long been advised that
people who struggle with impulse purchases pay with cash instead of
credit or debit so they have a more tangible sense of the cost. With
many websites and apps now allowing you to store your credit or debit
card information for easy one-click purchasing the cost can become even
more abstract.”

The use of personal technology, such as smartphone apps, for purchases
is surprisingly high across all generations (Millennials: 98 percent,
Generation X: 96 percent, Baby Boomers: 94 percent). Almost all
Americans (95 percent) have used personal technology to make a purchase,
and they are seeing the benefits. One-in-two (50 percent) say personal
technology has allows them to better budget their time and 47 percent
say it’s helped them with their financial budgets. In addition, nearly
half (46 percent) say that availability of personal technology has made
them more likely to save money.

However, if people aren’t careful personal technology can be a
double-edged sword – particularly with so many options available to pay
a little extra to save some time. In fact, two-in-five Americans (41
percent) say personal technology has made them more likely to pay extra
for convenience. And more alarmingly, two-thirds (67 percent) of
Americans say it makes them more worried about the security of their
personal identity.

“Any conversation about the financial implications of personal
technology would be incomplete without mentioning the potential for
identity theft. Americans need to be careful with their purchasing
decisions when online and using apps,” said Anton. “With a world of
goods and services available at the tap of a screen, technology has the
potential to save consumers both time and money. However, if they are
not careful that convenience can come at a significant cost.”

The AICPA National CPA Financial Literacy Commission offers up the
following advice for Americans on how to be smart about personal
technology, stay within budget and maximize the time they have to spend
doing the things they enjoy:

  • Creating
    a budget
    allows you to determine where your money is allocated and
    prioritize where you spend your disposable income. Creating a budget
    for your time will give you a better sense of just how busy you are,
    where your time is spent and opportunities to save time. When the two
    are viewed together, it can help you decide if and when it might make
    sense to pay a little extra to save time.
  • Look into email and text alerts from your bank or credit card. These
    can help protect you from fraud and help track spending. For example,
    you can request alerts for large purchases, items purchased without
    your card being present, or even “two factor verification” where you
    get a text message on your phone to confirm that it’s really you
    making those purchases.
  • Personal technology allows Americans to shop online 24/7. The
    convenience can save time, but the ease can cause you to buy items you
    may not need. And although it may be slightly inconvenient, avoid
    saving your credit or debit card information on shopping sites—the
    extra step of entering your information each time will give you
    another beat to reconsider if the purchase is truly necessary.
  • Free wi-fi in coffee shops, restaurants, and other public places is a
    great convenience – but think twice about using your phone or laptop
    on a public network to access your bank account, use credit cards, or
    provide any sensitive information. Public networks may not be secure,
    which puts your information at risk of being stolen. According to the
    U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, Americans
    lost $15.4 billion in 2014 as result of identity theft incidents.
  • Make personal technology work for your finances with IFTTT (If This,
    Then That), which can automate tasks. AICPA’s Feed the Pig program
    offers a channel to help
    curb impulse purchasing
    and to make sure your budget stays on
    track.

Additional information on how
to avoid online shopping mistakes
is available on the AICPA’s 360
Degrees of Financial Literacy website.

360 Degrees of Financial literacy (www.360finlit.org),
is a national volunteer effort of the nation’s CPAs to help Americans
understand their personal finances and develop money management skills.
The AICPA, in partnership with the Ad Council, has also developed Feed
the Pig
, a national and localized PSA campaign designed to improve
financial literacy among Americans aged 25–34 by encouraging them to
make savings a part of their daily lives. Both programs are free to the
public.

Survey Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted by telephone within the United States
between March 24 and 27, 2017, among 1,018 adults (505 men and 513 women
aged 18 and over) including 518 interviews from the landline sample and
500 interviews from the cell phone sample. Figures for age, sex,
race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted
(using data from the Current Population Survey) where necessary to bring
them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

About the American Institute of CPAs

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is the world’s largest member
association representing the CPA profession, with more than 418,000
members in 143 countries, and a history of serving the public interest
since 1887. AICPA members represent many areas of practice, including
business and industry, public practice, government, education and
consulting. The AICPA sets ethical standards for the profession and U.S.
auditing standards for private companies, nonprofit organizations,
federal, state and local governments. It develops and grades the Uniform
CPA Examination, offers specialized credentials, builds the pipeline of
future talent and drives professional competency development to advance
the vitality, relevance and quality of the profession.

The AICPA maintains offices in New York, Washington, DC, Durham, NC, and
Ewing, NJ.

About the Association of International Certified Professional
Accountants

The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the
Association) combines the strengths of the American Institute of CPAs
(AICPA) and The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) to
power opportunity, trust and prosperity for people, businesses and
economies worldwide. It represents 650,000 members and students in
public and management accounting and advocates for the public interest
and business sustainability on current and emerging issues. With broad
reach, rigor and resources, the Association advances the reputation,
employability and quality of CPAs, CGMAs and accounting and finance
professionals globally.

Contacts

American Institute of CPAs (AICPA)
James Schiavone
212-596-6119
James.Schiavone@aicpa-cima.com
or
Jonathan
Lynch
212-596-6033

Jonathan.Lynch@aicpa-cima.com