Can money buy happiness? It might, depending on how you choose to spend it. And happiness is a big factor in mental and physical health.
Last week, I went to a friend’s house a few towns over. Without a car at my disposal, my general mode of transportation is public transit or two feet and a heartbeat.
However, this past weekend, I didn’t have the time or energy to sit on a bus for one and a half hours. So, I decided to take a cab and cut my travel time in less than half.
And, you know what? It made my whole day better! By choosing to spend some money, not only did I avoid the stress of rushing around commuting for three hours, but I also bought myself some happiness.
Money Can Buy Happiness and Save Time
A new joint study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School confirms I’m not alone. The researchers found that people experience far more joy and satisfaction when they spend money on things that save them time compared to material items. But surprisingly, folks are far less likely to spend money to save time—even those with plenty of means to do so.
The researchers gave 60 people $40.00 each for two weekends. On the first, they were instructed to use it to purchase material goods, so participants chose to buy a nice bottle of wine, board games, or clothing. Then the following weekend, they had to spend the money on something that saved time, like taking a taxi instead of transit, hiring someone to mow their lawn, or having their groceries delivered.
When the study participants were surveyed, they expressed far more happiness when spending money to save time. But surprisingly, only two percent said they would spend more money on things that give them more time.
Save the Guilt, Too
Even if you have the means to spend a little extra on time-saving (most people who pay to save time spend between $80.00 and $100.00 per month), it could be guilt that’s holding you back. Cleaning the house or apartment, cutting the lawn, or going to the grocery store all seem like things you should just do on your own, right? But, if you’re stressed out about time—or simply dreading these things—isn’t peace of mind worth a few dollars from time to time?
And sure, my $6.00 round trip on the bus jumped to $60.00 in cab fares, but it led to a blissful day. And, it’s not like I’m doing it all the time.
In fact, the study participants even indicated that they would choose to shop at a more expensive grocery store if it were closer to home, just to save time.
Your Time Is Worth It
Let’s face it: Time is precious, and not having enough of it is a major stressor—and you know what that can do to your health. So, next time you have a few extra dollars in your pocket, skip the trip to the mall and treat yourself to some more time instead!
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Health Affects Happiness, Not the Other Way Around
Cherophobia (Fear of Happiness): Symptoms, Causes, and How to Cure It
“Want to be happier? Hire a housekeeper, researchers suggest,” CBC, July 25, 2017; http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/happiness-research-timesavers-1.4220213, last accessed July 27, 2017.