How Different Age Groups View the Trade-Off Between Time and Money
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How Different Age Groups View the Trade-Off Between Time and Money

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The Trade-Off Between Time and Money

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

Every individual person has their own unique set of values when it comes to how they approach their lifestyle and career.

Generally speaking, however, most people have a viewpoint on the inherent trade-off between time and money, as well as whether these precious resources should be used to seek out experiences or buy possessions.

Today’s chart uses data from a global survey of 22,000 internet users in 17 different countries by GfK Global, which gave people the option to choose whether they valued:

  1. Time vs. Money
  2. Experiences vs. Possessions

We’ll first look at the U.S. data with a focus on generational differences, and then we’ll present the international data on how this trade-off between time and money manifests itself between countries.

Generational Differences

Judging by age alone, one might guess that younger generations would prefer to “take the money and run”. After all, millennials are often stereotyped as a cash-strapped generation.

Interestingly, this doesn’t seem to be the case at all, at least according to U.S. data:

Age GroupTime > Money (% agree)Experiences > Possessions (% agree)
15-19 years24%46%
20-29 years38%59%
30-39 years38%57%
40-49 years27%53%
50-59 years26%47%
60+ years20%52%

When it comes to time and money, 38% of both the 20-29 year and 30-39 year ranges prefer to choose time over money. This is a significantly higher portion than those of other age groups. Surprisingly, only 20% of people in the 60+ group clearly had a preference for time over money.

As for experiences and possessions, it was a similar case, with the 20-29 year and 30-39 year groups having the highest preference for experiences. This is not surprising, and it’s a widely known millennial attribute to seek powerful experiences like travel, music festivals, sports, and live events over buying new material possessions such as furniture or a new car.

International Differences

How do people from different countries approach the same survey questions?

Time and money by country

The international chart reveals some interesting differences about the perceived value of time and money.

One very stark one lies between two Asian nations in close proximity. Folks surveyed from China had the highest preference for time over money (41% agreeing), while across the East China Sea, in Japan, the results show the lowest preference for time over money (11% agreeing).

Another interesting cultural difference: countries in Latin America tend to see experiences as far more important than the rest of the globe. Mexico (57%), Argentina (53%), and Brazil (49%) all were well above the global average of 44% for choosing experiences over possessions.

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Money

Ranked: The World’s Richest Billionaires Over the Past 10 Years

This visualization looks at the ballooning wealth and ranking of the top 10 billionaires over the past 10 years.

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Ranked: The World’s Richest Billionaires Over the Past 10 Years

The last decade has seen a number of changes in the world’s richest billionaires list.

For one, there are new faces at the top of the leaderboard that were never there before. One of the most obvious changes though, is that the richest billionaires have accumulated a lot more wealth in recent years.

Using annual data from Forbes on the richest billionaires, we’ve visualized the wealth and ranking of the top 10 billionaires over the past decade.

Who are the World’s Richest Billionaires?

While the pecking order has fluctuated, the leaderboard remains very exclusive. Out of a possible 10 spots, there are only 19 individuals that have made the list over the last decade.

Here’s the current list of richest billionaires in 2022, including when they first made the list (if in the last decade):

RankNameCountryNet Worth (2022)First Year on List*
#1Elon Musk🇺🇸 U.S.$219 billion2021
#2Jeff Bezos🇺🇸 U.S.$171 billion2016
#3Bernard Arnault🇫🇷 France$158 billion-
#4Bill Gates🇺🇸 U.S.$129 billion-
#5Warren Buffett🇺🇸 U.S.$118 billion-
#6Larry Page🇺🇸 U.S.$111 billion2019
#7Sergey Brin🇺🇸 U.S.$107 billion2021
#8Larry Ellison🇺🇸 U.S.$106 billion-
#9Steve Ballmer🇺🇸 U.S.$91 billion2020
#10Mukesh Ambani🇮🇳 India$91 billion-

*Billionaires with “-” first made the list at an earlier date. Example: Mukesh Ambani made the 2008 list.

Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist, Bill Gates, is a perennial presence at the top of these lists. Gates is currently at his lowest rank over this time period, but is still in fourth spot. The billionaire has pledged to give away nearly all of his fortune to the eponymously named Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

From 2018 to 2021, Jeff Bezos sat at the top of the world’s richest people ranking, only to be bumped out by Elon Musk. In 2020, Bezos became the first person to amass a $200 billion fortune after Amazon’s stock price surged during the pandemic. In recent months, Bezos’ net worth has taken a hit as Amazon’s share price has fallen back down to Earth.

Today, Elon Musk is the world’s richest person.

The Rich Get Richer

Over time, the median net worth of the richest billionaires has grown significantly.

YearMedian Net Worth of Top 10 Billionaires
2013$39 billion
2014$44 billion
2015$49 billion
2016$45 billion
2017$56 billion
2018$71 billion
2019$64 billion
2020$68 billion
2021$97 billion
2022$115 billion

Most fortunes are held in the form of business equity, real estate, and publicly-traded stocks—all asset classes that have benefited from the era of cheap money and ultra-low interest rates.

Over the decade period, the median net worth of the top 10 billionaires has nearly tripled from $39 billion to $115 billion.

In fact, the first billionaire to pass the $100 billion threshold was Jeff Bezos in 2018, when he took the top spot on the list from Bill Gates. However, now all but two on the top 10 wealthiest list are centibillionaires.

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Markets

All of the World’s Money and Markets in One Visualization (2022)

From the wealth held to billionaires to all debt in the global financial system, we look at the vast universe of money and markets in 2022.

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All of the World’s Money and Markets in One Visualization

The era of easy money is now officially over.

For 15 years, policymakers have tried to stimulate the global economy through money creation, zero interest-rate policies, and more recently, aggressive COVID fiscal stimulus.

With capital at near-zero costs over this stretch, investors started to place more value on cash flows in the distant future. Assets inflated and balance sheets expanded, and money inevitably chased more speculative assets like NFTs, crypto, or unproven venture-backed startups.

But the free money party has since ended, after persistent inflation prompted the sudden reversal of many of these policies. And as Warren Buffett says, it’s only when the tide goes out do you get to see “who’s been swimming naked.”

Measuring Money and Markets in 2022

Every time we publish this visualization, our common unit of measurement is a two-dimensional box with a value of $100 billion.

Even though you need many of these to convey the assets on the balance sheet of the U.S. Federal Reserve, or the private wealth held by the world’s billionaires, it’s quite amazing to think what actually fits within this tiny building block of measurement:

What fits in a $100 billion box?

Our little unit of measurement is enough to pay for the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, while also buying every team in the NHL and digging FTX out of its financial hole several times over.

Here’s an overview of all the items we have listed in this year’s visualization:

Asset categoryValueSourceNotes
SBF (Peak Net Worth)$26 billionBloombergNow sits at <$1B
Pro Sports Teams$340 billionForbesMajor pro teams in North America
Cryptocurrency$760 billionCoinMarketCapPeaked at $2.8T in 2021
Ukraine GDP$130 billionWorld BankComparable to GDP of Mississippi
Russia GDP$1.8 trillionWorld BankThe world's 11th largest economy
Annual Military Spending$2.1 trillionSIPRI2021 data
Physical currency$8.0 trillionBIS2020 data
Gold$11.5 trillionWorld Gold CouncilThere are 205,238 tonnes of gold in existence
Billionaires$12.7 trillionForbesSum of fortunes of all 2,668 billionaires
Central Bank Assets$28.0 trillionTrading EconomicsFed, BoJ, Bank of China, and Eurozone only
S&P 500$36.0 trillionSlickchartsNov 20, 2022
China GDP$17.7 trillionWorld Bank
U.S. GDP$23.0 trillionWorld Bank
Narrow Money Supply$49.0 trillionTrading EconomicsIncludes US, China, Euro Area, Japan only
Broad Money Supply $82.7 trillionTrading EconomicsIncludes US, China, Euro Area, Japan only
Global Equities$95.9 trillionWFELatest available 2022 data
Global Debt$300.1 trillionIIFQ2 2022
Global Real Estate$326.5 trillionSavills2020 data
Global Private Wealth$463.6 trillionCredit Suisse2022 report
Derivatives (Market)$12.4 trillionBIS
Derivatives (Notional)$600 trillionBIS

Has the Dust Settled Yet?

Through previous editions of our All the World’s Money and Markets visualization, we’ve created snapshots of the world’s assets and markets at different points in time.

For example, in our 2017 edition of this visualization, Apple’s market capitalization was only $807 billion, and all crypto assets combined for $173 billion. The global debt total was at $215 trillion.

Asset2017 edition2022 editionChange (%)
Apple market cap$807 billion$2.3 trillion+185%
Crypto$173 billion$760 billion+339%
Fed Balance Sheet$4.5 trillion$8.7 trillion+93%
Stock Markets$73 trillion$95.9 trillion+31%
Global Debt$215 trillion$300 trillion+40%

And in just five years, Apple nearly quadrupled in size (it peaked at $3 trillion in January 2022), and crypto also expanded into a multi-trillion dollar market until it was brought back to Earth through the 2022 crash and subsequent FTX implosion.

Meanwhile, global debt continues to accumulate—growing by $85 trillion in the five-year period.

With interest rates expected to continue to rise, companies making cost cuts, and policymakers reining in spending and borrowing, today is another unique snapshot in time.

Now that the easy money era is over, where do things go from here?

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