Aug 2, 2017

They say money is the root of all evil. It’s the “anthem of success” and “the reason we exist,” sings Lana del Rey. Then there’s a song called Money (That’s What I Want), which has lyrics that go: “The best things in life are free, but you can keep ’em for the birds and bees.” So much has been said about money and its role, including how it can buy happiness.

The notion that money can buy happiness has been a perpetuated idea. Well, it’s true; buying a nice shirt, a new record, and other little things makes you a little bit happier. However, a recent study found a better way to achieve happiness through spending.

A study led by Ashley Whillans, assistant professor at the Harvard Business School, claims that spending on things and services that can save you time will lead to happiness. “People who spent money to buy themselves time, such as by outsourcing disliked tasks, reported greater overall life satisfaction,” she tells New York Times.

The researchers conducted the study through surveying people from the US, Canada, Denmark, and the Netherlands. The participants who afforded services to save time reported that they gained better life satisfaction than those who opted for material goods. These services include getting a helper to clean your home or do the laundry, having food delivered instead of going out to actually buy it, and booking an Uber instead of lining up for the train.

The study discovers that hiring someone to do menial tasks can reduce stress and gives you extra time to do more important things. Photo courtesy of Unsplash

How can buying time cause happiness?

The study proposes that spending money to save time reduces stress and increases well-being. Buying material goods, no matter how lavish they are, does not give the same result.

This is especially true for those who have big responsibilities and a long to-do list. According to happiness researcher Edward Diener, “…part of the stress is this time pressure—too much to do and one cannot get everything done. So buying time through purchases makes a lot of sense.”

Happiness is a subjective matter. We can accept the results of this study as an option, but there are people who achieve peace and bliss in walking to a restaurant to get food, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, or waiting in line for the train. Spend what you have on what really matters to you and you’ll still probably end up happy.

Oh, and don’t forget that there are free things that can make you happy like a walk in the park.

Header image courtesy of Pixabay

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TAGS: cash happiness money saving time time