Could the key to happiness be in what we save more so than what we spend? A group of researchers believe so, publishing a paper saying that yes, money does buy us happiness — because we feel a lot less stressed when we pay for services that save us time and effort.
Essentially, spend money on tasks and errands you’d rather not handle, so you have more time to enjoy life.
That does sound legit, right?
“Around the world, increases in wealth have produced an unintended consequence: a rising sense of time scarcity,” the researchers explain in Buying Time Promotes Happiness, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “We provide evidence that using money to buy time can provide a buffer against this time famine, thereby promoting happiness.”
Time scarcity, time famine — we’re so stressed about time, they almost sound like a horrible diagnosis.
However, there appears to be a very real link between satisfaction and saving time.
The researchers surveyed 4,500 people in the U.S., Denmark, Canada and the Netherlands about life satisfaction and time-saving purchases, like a ride share service or a maid. They conducted another survey with 1,800 Americans, using a broader definition of such purchases.
About 28 percent of those in the first round and half in the second spent money to save time. In both cases, those people were more satisfied.
The researchers also conducted an experiment to further their findings. They gave about 60 Canadians $40 of weekend spending money to be used on time-saving purchases or material goods. Yet again, those who spent money towards time-saving services felt better.
The takeaway here isn’t that time-spending efforts we like are the problem, like cooking or retail therapy. It’s those errands and tasks we find no joy in that could go away with a little spending. Out of sight, out of mind — literally.
Who waits for anything anymore, anyways?
The study found that people from a range of income levels found happiness when buying time. However, researchers noted there were very few low-income participants in their studies.
“If there’s some task that just thinking about it fills you with dread, then it’s probably worth considering whether you can afford to buy your way out of it,” University of British Columbia Professor Elizabeth Dunn, one of the authors of the paper, told the New York Times.
Until we can get a time-travel device via Amazon Prime, looks like good ol’ food delivery and cleaning services will have to do.