Buying more of this could make you happier

Buying more of this could make you happier

In our fast-paced world, time is often at a premium and many wish for more than 24 hours in a day. This feeling of “time stress” has effects on our overall health and well-being. What if there was a buffer to ease the burden of our “time famine”?

In a recent study of individuals across the U.S., Canada, Denmark and The Netherlands, researchers found that individuals who purchased time-saving services reported an improved mood and greater happiness than after spending money on a material purchase.

“People who spent money to buy themselves time, such as by outsourcing disliked tasks, reported greater overall life satisfaction,” Ashley Whillans, an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School and lead author of the study, told The New York Times.

The study suggests that paying for cleaning, shopping or cooking services can decrease feelings of end-of-the-day time pressure and create a buffer against the effects of time pressure on overall life satisfaction.

“The findings reported in this study are not all that surprising,” says Dr. Brent Sylvester, clinical psychologist with Advocate Medical Group in Bloomington, Ill. “Past researchers have reported people who spend on material items get immediate satisfaction, but their positive experience does not last. When people invest in experiences, such as a vacation or time in a spa, the satisfaction they experience tends to last longer.”

It makes sense that spending money to free one’s time, presumably for engaging in preferred activities or experiences, would bring greater satisfaction than material goods. When all else is equal, we may often be better off buying experiences than buying stuff.”

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  1. Translation: rich people who can afford to hire others to do their dirty work are happier. Color me shocked.

  2. Dienne, it’s not just for rich people. It’s not inexpensive but I have a cleaning service that comes to my apartment once a month because I have physical problems with my right shoulder (I’m right handed) and have recently had left knee replacement surgery. My shoulder problems prevent me from doing much of the reaching and pushing which up until recently I have been able to do myself and I can’t bend down to clean floors or reach around things because of my left knee. I don’t know what I would do without having this help as I have no family in the state. To me it’s worth the money. It’s hard enough to go grocery shopping and carry in the groceries and do laundry, etc. Having the cleaning service for help is wonderful. Hopefully in the next 6 months I will be able to eliminate the cleaning service and save that money but in the meantime it’s worth every penny.

  3. Most of my daily stress comes from time deprivation. I made a decision to hire an excellent cleaning lady to clean my house so that I could spend my Saturdays with my children instead of cleaning and doing house chores all day. I pay my help the same amount per hour as what I make in my occupation. Sometimes we have to make decisions like this and they have nothing to do with wealth… and this particular one definitely makes me happier.

  4. Well, really. We need a study for this? Life’s experiences are always more rewarding than material purchases. I figured this out and went to a state university not Harvard! So are you advocating “let’s try to feel good all the time?” That’s not real life, kiddo. Even the sun burns when you have too much. Now please excuse me. I have to clean the bathrooms!

About the Author

Lynn Hutley
Lynn Hutley

Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.