Money Can Buy Happiness By Buying Time, Study Suggests

Buying time promotes happiness.

Money Can Buy Happiness By Buying Time, Study Suggests
Image Credit: UBC

According to new research, spending money really can make us happier. Using the money for buying time such as paying for a cleaner or cook to take the daily chores off your hands does actually improve well-being. It makes us feel like we don’t have control over our own time.

Buying time with our money gives us a better sense of well-being than buying yet more material stuff.

Lead researcher Ashley Whillans said, “People who hire a housecleaner or pay the kid next door to mow the lawn might feel like they’re being lazy. But our results suggest that buying time has similar benefits for happiness as having more money.”

Scientists involved almost 6,271 people across the US, Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands. They asked participants whether they spent money to buy themselves free time, and if so how much they spent each month. They found the same link between buying time and life satisfaction irrespective of the overall level of income.

Scientists even asked them whether they are satisfied with their lives and how pressed for time they felt.

Participants who spent money to free up time reported greater life satisfaction overall. They found the same link between buying time and life satisfaction irrespective of the overall level of income.

Elizabeth Dunn, one of the team member said, “The benefits of buying time aren’t just for wealthy people. We thought the effects might only hold up for people with quite a bit of disposable income, but to our surprise, we found the same effects across the income spectrum.”

While conducting a field test, scientists asked 60 adults from Vancouver to spend $40 on a time-saving exercise one weekend, and $40 on a material purchase on another weekend.

Participants were found as happier when spending the cash on something that freed up time.

The research also suggests that very few of us make time-saving purchases in our day-to-day lives. Scientists test this on 818 millionaires and found that almost half of them weren’t spending any money on outsourcing time-consuming tasks.

Even though empowering tasks and making more time for ourselves is good for us, but it is not something we seem all that keen to do.

Dunn said, “Although buying time can serve as a buffer against the time pressures of daily life, few people are doing it even when they can afford it.”

“My take home message is, ‘think about it, is there something you hate doing that fills you with dread and could you pay somebody else to do that for you?'”

“If so, then science says that’s a pretty good use of money.”