They say “money can’t buy you happiness,” but some new scientific research suggests that’s not entirely true. According to a recent study conducted by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School, spending money on things that can give you extra time has a strong link to happiness. For instance, if you hire a cleaning service instead of doing household chores yourself, you save yourself time and stress—and come out happier in the long run.
“People who hire a housecleaner or pay the kid next door to mow the lawn might feel like they’re being lazy,” study lead author Ashley Whillans, assistant professor at Harvard Business School said in the report. “But our results suggest that buying time has similar benefits for happiness as having more money.”
So, how did they come to this conclusion? More than 6,000 adults in the United States, Denmark, Canada and the Netherlands were surveyed. Participants were asked about how much money they spent buying themselves free time, and then those answers were compared to answers about overall happiness and feelings of stress due to time pressure.
Those who spent more money in order to have more free time reported being happier. And this wasn’t just for those with disposable income, either.
“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.”
Although, it’s also important to note that having too much free time is not necessarily a good thing. According to a study published in Sociological Science, while free time is good, it’s also somewhat dependent on having someone to share it with.
Too many unoccupied hours spent alone won’t necessarily make you happy. But, on the other hand, paying someone to pull weeds or mow your lawn so you have free time to meet friends for lunch will most definitely bring you a bit of joy.
So, whoever said “money can’t buy you happiness” must have strictly been speaking about using cash to buy material goods. Because spending time doing things you enjoy with people you love is invaluable.
There you have it—scientific justification to pay someone else to do some of the chores you hate the most!