One might want to rethink the idea that money cannot buy happiness.
A new study from a group of researchers out of the University of British Columbia, Harvard Business School, and other institutions found that using one’s money to buy time, including paying someone to complete household tasks, could translate to higher life satisfaction.
Buying Time And Increased Happiness
“Our results suggest that buying time has similar benefits for happiness as having more money,” said social psychologist and lead author Ashley Whillans in a statement, using the example of people hiring a house cleaner or paying the kid next door to mow their lawn.
Whillans and her colleagues conducted seven surveys of over 6,000 individuals in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, and Denmark. They asked the respondents if as well as how much they spent every month to buy themselves some free time and asked them to rate their current life satisfaction and answer questions on time stress.
The results revealed that those who spent money on time-saving purchases and services had greater life satisfaction, the effect of which holding up after accounting for income. Working adults reported higher life satisfaction if they regularly paid to have cooking, doing the groceries, and other household tasks done.
According to senior author and UBC psychology professor Elizabeth Dunn, this showed how buying time benefits not just the wealthy but also those with less disposable income.
To test whether buying time actually led to greater happiness, the researchers recruited 60 adults to spend $40 on a time-saving purchase on one weekend and a separate $40 on a material purchase on another.
Increased positive effects, less negative effects, and less time stress were tied by most participants to time-saving purchase rather than material stuff.
However, when the team asked a different group of 98 adults on how they are likely to spend $40, a mere 2 percent cited buying themselves more time. An earlier survey of 850 millionaires too had less than half reporting that they regularly spent money on outsourcing disliked tasks.
Few people are doing it even if they can afford it, Dunn explained, pointing to previous research that showed how people bought their way into good experiences and not readily out of not-so-desirable experiences such as household chores.
Whillans said further that people are notorious for making bad decisions around what will make them happier.
“We always think we’re going to have more time tomorrow than we do right now,” she told the Washington Post.
The findings were detailed in the journal PNAS.