Money Can Buy Happiness (If You Use It for This)

money can buy happiness

The first time I got groceries delivered to my house, I felt so lazy and guilty. Who did I think I was? I felt like such a diva for having someone else pick up eggs and milk.

But when that delivery arrived, the guilt was replaced by glee. Grocery shopping is my most hated chore. It takes me forever and I come home miserable every time. By ordering my groceries, I got 90 minutes back for myself and I didn’t have to deal with the stress of heading to the store.

Before you write me off as a spoiled millennial, research shows I might be onto something. A 2017 study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) found that money does, in fact, buy happiness — but only if you spend your hard-earned cash in one particular way.

How money could boost your happiness

Between smartphones, email, and social media, we’re never really disconnected from work. There are so many demands on our schedule that it’s hard to carve out time to spend with your family or relax on your own. Having so much to handle can make you feel stressed, which can cause or exacerbate issues like feeling unsatisfied with your life.

That sounds pretty dire, but after surveying over 6,000 people in the United States, Canada, Denmark, and the Netherlands, the PNAS study’s researchers found one possible solution.

They asked participants a few questions: whether they spend money on outsourcing tasks and, if so, how much they spend and how they would rate their satisfaction with life.

The researchers discovered that those who spend their money on time-saving services or devices reported more happiness than someone who purchased material objects, such as clothes.

Regardless of income, hours worked each week, marital status, or the number of children, families who outsourced chores like cooking or cleaning had higher levels of satisfaction with life.

However, there are limits to this theory. Researchers also found that if people outsourced too many tasks, their happiness decreased, potentially because it made them feel like they couldn’t handle normal chores. And, if you stretch your budget too thin after paying people to do small chores, it could lead to financial-related stress.

How to buy time (on a budget)

You might have seen this popular saying floating around on social media: “You have just as many hours in a day as Beyonce.” It’s a catchy motivational phrase, but it’s not accurate.

Beyonce has an army of assistants and staff who help her manage her business and household, which frees up more time for her to focus on what she wants. You, on the other hand, are an army of one.

In a perfect world, you could hire a private chef, a full-time housekeeper, and a chauffeur so you could nap on your way to work. Unfortunately, that’s not a world most of us live in. However, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the perks of outsourcing.

You can experience greater satisfaction by getting help for just one or two small chores. If your budget doesn’t allow you to hire help, you can still reap the benefits in other ways. Even a minor change, such as paying the toll for the faster route to work rather than using the main highway, can make a significant difference.

Getting some time back for leisure or just to give you more breathing room in your schedule can be more rewarding than buying a new Lexus or upgrading your countertops.

Here are six relatively inexpensive splurges that can give you more free time — and more happiness:

  1. Grocery delivery: If you’re like me and hate grocery shopping with a passion, a service like Shipt can be life-changing. There is an annual fee and items are slightly more expensive than you would pay if you were shopping for yourself, but I’ve found it’s well worth the premium.
  2. Laundry service: If you’re losing the battle of the laundry basket, it might be time to outsource. Services like Laundry Care have someone pick up your dirty clothes or linens, wash them, fold them, and deliver them to you sparkling clean.
  3. Dinner delivery: After a long day at work or a full list of errands, the last thing you want to do is figure out dinner. With apps like UberEats or meal-kit services like Blue Apron, you can get your favorite meals delivered directly to your door.
  4. Housekeeping: If you just can’t keep to your cleaning schedule, hiring an occasional or weekly housekeeper can be prudent. The cleaner comes in, works miracles while you’re at work, and you come home to a neat home.
  5. Lawn maintenance: Spending weekends tending to the lawn is a pain. Hiring a lawn maintenance company — or a neighborhood kid looking to earn money — lets you spend your weekends doing what you love.
  6. Home repairs: If you own a home, you likely have a lengthy to-do list of chores you’ve meant to do, such as installing a new towel rod or touching up the paint in the kitchen. Rather than have that list keep growing, hire a skilled handyman to come out and handle it for you.

Using your time wisely

Before you feel bad about outsourcing regular tasks or chores, consider the sanity-saving perks that could come along with it. As long as you spend only what you can truly afford, you could boost your happiness and spend more of your day doing what you enjoy.

By shifting your most time-consuming and hated chores to someone else, you can free up more time for what you enjoy doing. If that means binging “Game of Thrones” (again), so be it.

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