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When Push Comes to Shove Americans Pick Money Over Time

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Even though we all have the same amount of time but different amount of money, a new survey finds Americans value their money more than their time. While 59% of Americans say cost and time are equally important when it comes to purchasing decisions, nearly three times as many say the cost is more important than time and energy involved (11%). 

According to a new survey from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) found 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.

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%) say budgeting time and finances are equally important, Americans are more likely to say budgeting their finances (24%) is more important than budgeting their time (15%). Fascinatingly, this approximate ratio holds up across all generations and stays fairly consistent regardless of retirement status and household income.

The use of personal technology, such as smartphone apps, for purchases is surprisingly high across all generations (Millennials: 98%, Generation X: 96%, Baby Boomers: 94%). Almost all Americans (95%) have used personal technology to make a purchase, and they are seeing the benefits. One-in-two say personal technology allows them to better budget their time and 47% say it’s helped them with their financial budgets. In addition, nearly half 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 say personal technology has made them more likely to pay extra for convenience. And more alarmingly, two-thirds Americans say it makes them more worried about the security of their personal identity.

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.

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