Buying time can make you happy
LONDON: The secret of happiness may be as simple as employing a cleaner, a study has found.
Paying someone to do tasks you dislike such as cleaning, shopping or weeding creates greater life satisfaction than doing it yourself, research suggests.
The study’s authors say having too little time to do the things you need to do to maintain your life is “a new form of poverty” that has nothing to do with financial poverty.
The solution is to spend money on domestic assistance as this will reduce the stresses of being “time poor” in a way that buying a fancy car, an expensive meal in a restaurant or a new sofa will not.
The authors say while there is a lot of research about overcoming financial scarcity, little has been done to look at time scarcity.
Ashley Whillans, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, said: “People who hire a house cleaner or pay the kid next door to mow the lawn might feel they’re being lazy. But our results suggest buying time has similar benefits for happiness as having more money.”
The authors say having “a good support network”, understanding friends, family and workmates helps to reduce your stress levels.
But paying someone to do the jobs you dislike will have the same effect. The researchers questioned more than 6 000 people in the US, Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands, asking how much, if anything, they spent each month to buy themselves free time. They also rated their life satisfaction, and answered questions about feelings of time stress.
The study encompassed representative working people in the first three countries, and 850 millionaires in the Netherlands.
But whatever the level of income, the authors found “people from across the income spectrum benefited from buying time”. Despite enviable wealth, almost half of the Dutch sample of millionaires reported spending no money on outsourcing their disliked tasks.
Analysing the results further, the authors found that people who spent more money on “time saving purchases” felt less stress.
The authors said: “Across seven studies with over 6 000 respondents, spending money to buy time was linked to greater life satisfaction, and the typical, detrimental effect of time stress on life satisfaction was attenuated among individuals who used money to buy time.”
They found participants felt greater positive emotions after making a time-saving purchase.
Study co-author Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, said: “The benefits of buying time aren’t just for wealthy people.” – Daily Mail