Yes, you can buy happiness — if you spend it to save time

Survey respondents were asked whether they paid other people to do “unenjoyable daily tasks” in order to “increase their free time.” In 28 percent of cases, the answer was yes. These folks spent an average of $147.95 per month to buy themselves extra time.

They say money can’t buy happiness, but science begs to differ.

An international research team has demonstrated that you really can make yourself happier by paying other people to do your time-consuming chores.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re rich or poor, the new study suggests. If you feel pressed for time, your life satisfaction can be improved by trading money for minutes that you can use as you wish.

The researchers, led by Ashley Whillans, a professor at the Harvard Business School, began with survey data from nearly 4,500 people from the United States, Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands. Survey-takers were asked whether they paid other people to do “unenjoyable daily tasks” in order to “increase their free time.”

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In 28 percent of cases, the answer was yes. These folks spent an average of $147.95 per month to buy themselves extra time.

What they lost in currency, they made up for in happiness. Whillans and her colleagues found that the people who traded money for time were more satisfied with life than their counterparts who didn’t. They also were less likely to say they felt “time stress,” a condition that was linked with lower levels of life satisfaction.

Just in case their original question was too narrow, the researchers conducted a second survey that asked more than 1,800 Americans whether they spent money to buy themselves “more free time.”

This time, half of the survey-takers answered yes. These folks spent between $80 and $99 per month, on average, so that others would handle chores like cooking, shopping and “household maintenance.”

As before, the people who…

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