Money

There’s A Science Backed Way To Buy Happiness

Forget everything you thought you knew about chores and, you know, the whole having to actually do them thing. According to science, getting someone else to do them for you will make you happier.

A recent study has found that those who employ time saving services, such as a cleaner or having your food shop delivered to you at home, displayed greater levels of life satisfaction than those who don’t. Which, considering that they’re not spending their precious downtime bleaching the toilet or standing in line at Coles, kind of makes sense.

The study – which was carried out by Harvard Business School – acknowledged that our busy lifestyles are impacting negatively on our overall wellbeing, before noting that spending money in order to buy more time improved those wellbeing levels.

So while we’ve always bandied about the age-old adage that money can’t buy you happiness, it turns out it actually can. “People who hire a housecleaner or pay the kid next door to mow the lawn might feel like they’re being lazy,” said psychology professor and study lead author Dr Ashley Whillans of the University of British Columbia. “But our results suggest that buying time has similar benefits for happiness as having more money.”

The results were found after surveying over 6,000 adults across the United States, Denmark, Canada and the Netherlands, ascertaining how much money they spent each month on freeing up their time. The study showed that there was a direct correlation between outsourcing disliked tasks with higher levels of life satisfaction and wellbeing.

Furthermore, when participants were given $50 to spend on both a time-saving purchase and a material purchase, they felt happier and less stressed following the time-saving purchase.

chores time money

But if you’re reading this with the assumption that paying someone else to do all the crap you don’t want to is a right reserved just for those with cash to splash, think again.

“The benefits of buying time aren’t just for wealthy people,” said the study’s senior author Elizabeth Dunn, also a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia. “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.”

However, despite the overwhelming evidence that outsourcing our dirty work makes us happier, it turns out that not that many of us are actually doing it – during a separate exercise within the study, 98 people were asked how they would spend $50, with only 2% opting for a time-saving purchase.

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

Ways to buy a little time

So, with that in mind, consider this permission to dish out the tasks you dread so you can get on with reading Game of Thrones fan theories online doing the things that make you happy. Stuck for ideas? Here’s a little inspo:

Wish Your Friend Happy Birthday

You haven’t sent a card and wheeling out the obligatory Facebook collage just isn’t going to cut it for the fourth year in a row. Hmm, what to do?

Perhaps head to Fiverr, an online marketplace where you can post tasks with completion prices starting from just AUD$5 (hence the name) and pay someone to record a special birthday message in front of the Taj Mahal? Or while dressed as a sexy policeman? Or even just get them to create a beautiful birthday mosaic slideshow for you? There really are no hard and fast rules here.

Clean Your Oven

You know when you turn on your oven to pre-heat it and it immediately starts to emit delicious smells of cooking, but you haven’t actually put any food in it yet? That usually indicates that the oven needs a bit of a clean.

If that idea fills you with dread (and, let’s be honest, why wouldn’t it?), consider getting someone else to do it for you. Over 10,000 Australians employ the services of oven cleaning company Ovenu every year, to get involved simply tap your postcode into their database and let them hook you up with a local oven cleaning technician.

Assemble Your Ikea Furniture

If your relationship (or general mood, for that matter) has ever been blighted by the task of having to assemble a piece of furniture, AirTasker (for the uninitiated, another online marketplace where you post tasks and a budget and community members then bid to complete the task) can help with that.

A small item – such as a chair – will cost in the region of AUD$28, while a large bed might set you back around AUD$90. But the cost of sitting back and watching someone else wrestle with the instructions and tiny pieces of doweling? Priceless.

Choose Your Clothes

While the concept of online shopping is nothing new, the services on offer are becoming increasingly sophisticated. If scrolling through endless pages of clothes sometimes feels like too tiresome-a-task, head over to an online stylist such as Birdsnest (for women) or Kent & Lime (for men) and let them choose and deliver a range of outfits direct to your door.

The only catch is that both require you to initially need to fill out a ‘style profile’ (time consuming), but then Kent & Lime can send you a range of personalised outfits based on your style, size and preference from here on in (just return the outfits that you don’t like and keep the ones you do), while Birdsnest will direct you to a list of style recommendations especially curated for you to choose from. Simple!


Nicola is a UK based writer and editor with a special interest in entertainment, lifestyle, tech, travel and parenting. Her ‘likes’ include new stationary, sanitising her hands and not following through on plans to go to that early morning Pilates class. Her (almost) decade-long career as a journalist has taken her to the States, Sydney and back to Blighty, where she can currently be found plotting her next adventure.