We’ve all heard the saying “money can’t buy happiness.” While most of us would agree that contentment isn’t tied to how much money or stuff we have, a recent study from the Pceedings of the National Academy of Sciences identified an exception to this principle: when money buys us time.
After surveying 6,000 participants in the U.S., Canada, Denmark, and The Netherlands, the researchers found that people who spent money on time-saving services like housecleaning or transportation, versus other things, reported greater overall happiness.
An explanation for this starts with the stress created by modern life. To those of us with demanding careers or lifestyles, obligations like household chores and errands we don’t enjoy build stress and tension — especially when doing them ourselves leaves us with little time left over. That’s why every little bit of time we can spend relaxing or doing tasks we enjoy alleviates some of that stress and ultimately leaves us happier.
So, to summarize, money can buy time; and, when we have more time, we’re happier.
Most of us can’t afford to hire an entire staff of personal assistants, so what would this look like for the average person? It just depends on your lifestyle and priorities. Is there one task you always dread more than any other? Are you procrastinating about a home renovation your spouse wants to DIY because you see it as a giant time-eater? Paying someone else to do it might be worth your happiness.
For example, maybe you feel like it’s impossible to eat healthier because you’re too tired or busy to plan meals, shop for groceries, cook, and clean up. For your health and happiness, it could be worth it to pay for a subscription that provides healthy, budget-friendly meals based on your dietary preferences and family size; use or sign up for a meal delivery service.
These types of services are readily available to us today, and, thanks to market competition, they’re more affordable than ever. With an odd-job app-based service, you might be able to feasibly achieve those detested odd jobs on your list without sacrificing your weekends, evenings, or your savings account.
Before saying you can’t afford to add any time-saving services to your household budget, think about what discretionary spending you already use on services. Would you be willing to sacrifice one or more in favor of having more time on your hands?