Could buying time make us happier?
Do you ever buy yourself time? For example, do you pay someone to clean your house? Do you order lunch to be delivered to your office? Do you pay to have your grocery shopping delivered to your house?
Can money increase happiness?
I recently read an interesting BBC News article reporting on a study about buying time carried out across the US, Canada, Denmark and The Netherlands. The psychologists behind the study wanted to find out whether money could actually increase happiness by freeing up participants’ time.
Overall, the study found that when individuals used money to buy time rather than material goods, they reported increased happiness due to reducing feelings of time stress.
Lack of time creates stress
Sounds really obvious doesn’t it? As parents, time stress is probably our biggest source of stress. The constant feeling that there aren’t enough hours in the day to finish what needs to be done. Or there’s no time left after work to do what you’d actually like to do, or to have that essential off-duty ‘me-time’.
The pressure of work, housework, looking after the children, and trying to find quality time to spend with your partner, family and friends, all weighs down on us.
Moving on from The Guilt
The study found that less than a third of participants bought themselves time. Even the richest ones were hesitant to pay someone to do the jobs they don’t like doing. Is it because we feel guilty? Do we think that we’ve failed because we can’t manage to do it all?
Obviously you need to have the means to be able to afford to outsource. Not everyone does. However, if you do take a critical look at your finances and think, actually, I could free up £30 a month, then it may be worth considering what time that could buy you, rather than spending it on stuff.
What extra time would benefit you?
Try and think about what task causes you most stress in your day / week / month, and whether you could buy a service to help you with it. It really may help you to feel happier.
We have our shopping delivered every week and for us, it’s a huge benefit. Neither of us like traipsing round the supermarket, especially with a whiney, bored four-year-old. We consider the cost of £1 a week extra (which is roughly what it costs when you commit for at least six months) as money well spent.
We don’t yet have a cleaner but once our son starts school in September and I’m working full time, we will definitely consider it. I still feel guilty about this though, as I will be working from home and feel as though I should be able to do it all. However, I will be buying time so that I can work more and build a successful business. As you can tell, I’m still feeing conflicted, but hopefully I’ll get over it by then!
These days, you can even hire Virtual Assistants to take care of your personal admin. So it’s not just the manual labour you can outsource, it’s also planning your next holiday, or sorting out your rather dull tax return (ugh, must get this done!).
Share your experience
I’d love to know if you buy yourself time, and if so, what services do you use? Please share in the comments below.