A new study by researchers from the University of British Columbia and Harvard University has found that people are happier when they spend their money buying “time” than they are when spending on material desires.

The study, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describes “buying time” as spending your money on things like delivery services, housekeeping and taxi services.

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Some 6 000 participants from four countries were surveyed, of which 800 were millionaires. They were asked how much money they spent on buying themselves time and the study found that less than one-third of the participants spent anything at all on this each month.

The participants who did spend money on buying themselves time reported higher levels of life satisfaction and happiness.

For the second phase of the study, researchers gave 60 participants from Canada $40 to spend over two weekends.

For the first weekend, participants had to spend $10 of the money on material goods like clothes and for the second week, they had to spend the  remaining money on something that would save them time. Participants reported that they were happier having bought themselves time.

“In a series of surveys, we find that people who spend money to buy themselves more free time are happier – that is, they have higher life satisfaction,” said Dr Elizabeth Dunn, a professor at the University of British Columbia.

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“Money can buy happiness if you spend it right.”

Dunn goes on to explain that when money can, in fact, buy time quite effectively.

“Money can buy time. And it buys time pretty effectively. And so my take home message is: ‘Think about it – is there something you hate doing that fills you with dread and could you pay somebody else to do that for you?’ If so, then science says that’s a pretty good use of money,” explained Dunn.

Additional source: BBC