Some of us would go to great lengths to save money, even if it means spending more time and dealing with more inconveniences on the way – be it lining up for coveted bargains or looking for secret tricks to score lower prices. But Ashley Whillans, professor at Harvard Business School believes that another approach is better in bringing us happiness.
In the HBR IdeaCast podcast, Whillans said that people will gain the most happiness when they use their money to buy time. She believed we should spend our hard-earned cash not only on the things we like, but also to get out of “negative experiences” like doing the dishes or commuting.
This means paying for goods and services that will reduce the time spent on stressful activities – for example, buying a pricier house that is close to anywhere to avoid getting stuck in traffic.
Many people might not be comfortable with the idea of paying someone to perform seemingly basic chores like cooking, shopping or driving. However, Whillans argued that we could shift our perspective on time and money.
“I find in my studies that people feel really guilty about outsourcing even though they’re giving up money to have more time that they’ve earned,” she said.
But one of her studies found that enlisting the help of “time-saving services” can help reduce stress and improve happiness.
“Just the simple act of thinking about giving up money to have more free time seems to make people plan their time a little bit better. If I’m going to incur this cost to have this free time, then I’m going to make sure I really enjoy the free time that I have.”
But this doesn’t mean overhauling your budget and outsourcing every task. Whillans recommended starting small and staying away from drastic changes. “Just sitting down and thinking about whether there’s anything you can outsource that you really don’t like, that stresses you out a lot, that you can afford,” Whillans said.
Would you spend more money to get quality free time?