Editorial

Money may buy happiness when spent for more time

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Money canít buy happiness.

Or can it?

Suppose you were given $40 and told that you had to do something with it that would make you happy.

Go out to eat? Take in a show? Buy an item of clothing?

According to seven surveys in four countries, your best bet is buying time with that $40, but most of us donít think about it.

It doesnít matter whether youíre rich or poor or what you do for a living, according to the study published Monday in the journal PNAS.

If you think about it, we make time and money decisions all the time. We trade money for fast food or convenience dishes so we have more time to do other things. We purchase ready-made items our parents and grandparents would have created themselves.

Researchers from Harvard, the University of British Columbia and two institutes in the Netherlands conducted seven surveys of more than 6,000 people in four countries.

No matter household income, hours worked per week, marital status or number of children living at home, people who regularly spend money to save time showed higher life satisfaction, according to Ashley Whillans, a social psychologist and the studyís lead author.

The study didnít include the lowest income levels, but working adults in the United States reported higher life satisfaction if they regularly paid others to do mundane tasks such as cooking, shopping and general maintenance.

Researchers found 60 working adults in Vancouver, gave them $40 on each of two consecutive weekends and told them to spend the money on a material purchase one weekend and a time saving service the other.

Most subjects reported an increased positive effect, decreased negative effects and less time stress when the money went to outsourcing unpleasant tasks.

Despite that, only 2 percent of 98 working adults reported buying more time when asked how they would spend $40.

Whillans said that shows people arenít really good at making decisions that will actually make them happier.

We can think of a couple of takeaways from the study; for one, consider paying someone to do something you really donít like to do. For another, providing personal services such as cleaning, shopping and yard work should be a growth industry.

Read the original study here: http://bit.ly/2v0TsbS

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