Can Money really buy Happiness? This question has long sparked an ardent debate among humans. Some say it can, while others believed it can’t. However, an interesting finding was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that could prove money can indeed buy happiness or life satisfaction.

The study was conducted by an international team of researchers who studied the spending habits of over 6,000 men and women across four nations — Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United States. Based on the survey, experts discovered that spending money on TIME-saving services could lead to an increase in happiness through life satisfaction.

Pursuit of happiness

Since the ‘90s, psychologists, theologians, philosophers, and even economists, have long been seeking for the right definition of the elusive state of happiness. Some experts defined it as a “positive mood.” But according to Psychology Today, “happiness is a state of well-being that encompasses living a good life that is, with a sense of meaning and deep satisfaction.”

The publication also highlighted the importance of money when it comes to the feeling of being happy. However, they stressed that its significance is only to a “certain point,” like how one’s monetary wealth could buy “freedom from worry” about the basic necessities of life such as food, clothing, and shelter.

‘Time famine’

The recent research about happiness underscored the term, “time famine,” which was introduced in 1999 by a scientific study. CNN defined the term as a general emotion of “having too much to do but not enough time to deal with those demands.”

The multiple demands on our time are taking a toll in our daily lives by cultivating stress and negative moods.

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Over time, these stresses could lead to anxiety and insomnia. Fortunately, lead study author and Harvard Business School assistant professor Dr. Ashley Whillans revealed that there are ways to fight it and one of them is buying time.

Spending money on time-saving services

In their research, experts found that money can indeed buy happiness by freeing up time.

According to Dr. Elizabeth Dunn, Canada’s University of British Columbia psychology professor, said that those “people who spend money (£30 or $40) to buy themselves more free time are happier,” instead of spending on material goods, regardless of their income levels.

These time-saving services could include grocery delivery, house-cleaning, and cooking, car services like Uber or Lyft and lawn mowing, among many others. The study also gave emphasis to the satisfaction that people got from outsourcing services like cleaning bathrooms or scrubbing toilets, however, some findings are “intuitive.”


As busy-ness becomes a status symbol in today’s generation, Whillans explained the human desire to be able to “manage all components of their lives.” She also detailed the reasons why some people who could afford it are reluctant to spend money on time-saving services.

The reasons could vary from guilt and general reluctance, as well the challenges when it comes to event planning and time availability in the future. Due to the rise of technology and the internet, our society has adopted the “self-service” approach.

Despite the fact that the “self-service mode” appears to be more efficient and satisfying, the recent research suggested otherwise. New York Times bestselling author and Duke University behavioral economics and psychology professor Dr. Dan Ariely also noted that humans “don’t see the unhappiness from small annoying tasks,” citing the need to try different things — whether in the pursuit of happiness, health or relationships.

Meanwhile, some experts said that it remains uncertain if the findings of the recent research could be "universally applicable".

The reason? Those people with less economic stability may not be able to access time-saving services or purchases. In many cultures, women also feel obligated to do the household chores, instead of paying someone for help.