We have all been told that happiness can’t be bought.
It makes sense.
But what if money can help you buy more time which relieves stress and increases your feeling of well-being?
If you are a successful professional, earn a good income, have a great lifestyle yet are always pressed for time, the following study will be relevant to you.
The study, led by researchers at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School, suggests that money does buy happiness if it is used to buy services that gives you more free time, like paying someone to do your chores.
Going from the premise that around the world, increases in wealth have produced an unintended rising sense of time scarcity, the researchers hypothesized that using money to buy free time, could reduce the negative effects of feeling time pressure and so promote well-being.
The researchers surveyed more than 6,000 adults in the United States, Denmark, Canada and the Netherlands on (1) how much they spent each month to buy themselves free time, (2) their life satisfaction levels and (3) their levels of time stress.
The research results showed that people who spend money on time-saving services, like getting someone to do the house cleaning or cooking, reported greater life satisfaction.
What surprised the researchers is that this result didn’t exclusively apply to people who had disposable income to spend on services that provided them with free time.
“The benefits of buying time aren’t just for wealthy people,” said UBC psychology professor and the study’s senior author Elizabeth Dunn. “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.”
That’s not all.
The researchers also conducted a field test. They recruited 60 working adults from Vancouver, Canada and gave them two payments of $40 to spend on two consecutive weekends. They were randomly assigned to spend the money on a time saving purchase on the one weekend and on a material purchase the other weekend.
This is what happened:
People reported feeling happier after spending money on help with chores that gave them more free time than spending money on something material.
Here’s the kicker:
People don’t spend money on making life easier for themselves.
Almost half of the 818 Dutch millionaires that were surveyed said that they never spent money on services that would allow them to avoid chores. And out of a further sample of 98 working adults only 2 percent reported that they would spend an expendable $40 on free time.
Why would people not spend money on services that would give them more free time to enjoy as they wish? That’s the million dollar question.
“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,” said Dunn. “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.”