Want to be happy? Don’t buy expensive things - buy yourself more free time


Many of us imagine that buying a fancy new car, or a big new house might be the key to happiness – but you’re probably better off getting a cleaner.

Researchers found that using money to ‘buy yourself time’ – for instance by paying people to cook and clean for you, leads to higher levels of life satisfaction.

But many of us are reluctant to spend money in this way, the researchers found.

Sixty volunteers were assigned to spend £30 ($40) on purchases – either time-saving or material – and the researchers found that volunteers who spent money on saving time were happier.

But a survey of more than 6,000 adults by researchers at University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School also linked spending money on time-saving purchases to happiness.

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Dr Elizabeth Dunn, a senior author of the study, added: ‘The benefits of buying time aren’t just for wealthy people.

‘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 buying time can serve as a buffer against the time pressures of daily life, few people are doing it even when they can afford it.

‘Lots of research has shown that people benefit from buying their way into pleasant experiences, but our research suggests people should also consider buying their way out of unpleasant experiences.’

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