Ah, that elusive happiness thing everyoneâ€™s always talking about.
People say that money canâ€™t buy it â€” assuming that means spending moneyÂ on clothes and trendy furniture â€” and theyâ€™re probably right.
But if you use money to buy time? Thatâ€™s another thing altogether.
According to new research, itâ€™s not acquiring material goods that make us happier, itâ€™sÂ buying more spare time.
In an experiment, people who were asked to spend $40 paying someone else to do time-consuming work, such as cleaning and chores, were happier than those asked to spend the money on material things.
The research published in the journalÂ Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesÂ had more than 6,000 adults in the U.S., Canada, Denmark, and the Netherlands (including 800 millionaires) answer questions aboutÂ how much money they spent saving time.
The researchersÂ discovered that less than a third of the study subjectsÂ spent money on carving out free time for themselves each month â€” yet those who did reported greater life satisfaction.
Next, researchers had 60 working adults in Canada take part in a two-week experiment.
On one weekend, they were told to spend $40 on something that would save them time â€” such as cleaning, paying local kids to do errands for them, or having food delivered to them at work.
On the second weekend, they were told to spend the same amount on material things, such as clothes, wine, or books.
The researchers againÂ found that saving time â€” and reducing feelings of â€œtime stressâ€ â€” made peopleÂ happier than buying objects.
â€œMoney can in fact buy time. And it buys time pretty effectively,â€ Professor Dunn, who worked on the study, told the BBC.
â€œAnd so my take home message is, â€œThink about it: Is there something you hate doing that fills you with dread and could you pay somebody else to do that for you?â€™
â€œIf so, then science says thatâ€™s a pretty good use of money.â€