Spending money to buy yourself time can bring happiness, new research finds.
For example, hiring someone to clean your house or do other odd-jobs is beneficial to mental well-being.
Dr Ashley Whillans, the study’s first author, 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.”
The survey of 6,000 adults across the US, Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands asked people how much they spent ‘buying time’ for themselves.
Those who spent the most (as a percentage of their income) were more satisfied with life.
Professor Elizabeth Dunn, who led the study, 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.”
A field experiment also backed up the survey finding.
People were randomly asked to spend $40 on either saving time or buying some material good.
People felt happier when they saved time.
However, most people don’t like outsourcing activities that save them time.
A survey of 850 millionaires found 50% did not spend a single dime on outsourcing disliked tasks.
And the rest of us are no different, with 98% of people surveyed saying they would NOT spend a $40 windfall in a way that saved them time.
Professor 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.
Lots of research has shown that people benefit from buying their way into pleasant experiences, but our research suggests people should also consider buying their way out of unpleasant experiences.”
The study was published in the journal PNAS (Whillans et al., 2017).