Your paycheck just got a bit heftier, and you’re thinking about finally biting the bullet and buying yourself that new computer, or taking your significant other out to a super nice restaurant, or splurging on a massage more than once a year. Or, maybe you’re trying to be more fiscally responsible, so you’ve decided to throw all that extra money into a savings account that you’ll one day use for something important.
Turns out, neither of these options is guaranteed to make you as happy in the long term as a third option—buying yourself time.
A recent study cited in The Washington Post found that some of the happiest people are those who invest their hard-earned money into outsourcing chores they dislike to do, such as cleaning or grocery shopping.
And, these findings doesn’t discriminate based on household income, marital status, or number of children—meaning no matter who you are and how much you make, this applies to you, too (even if you’d argue having the latest cool products is all the happiness you need).
So, why do so many of us lean toward buying nice things the second our bank accounts grow? Says the article’s author Jenna Gallegos, “…we’re hesitant to trade money, which is concrete and measurable, for time, which is much more uncertain,” while we know exactly what we’re getting our money for when we buy goods.
And yet, time is so valuable in our lives and careers. It means the difference between leaving work early or staying late, getting all our tasks done or only getting halfway through our to-do list, checking our email on vacation or having the luxury to truly unplug. So, if we could afford to get back an extra hour in the morning, or free up our evenings or weekends to work on things that actually matter to us, wouldn’t we be willing to pay for it?
Consider it the next time you get a raise or bonus—maybe you trade an expensive smartwatch for a laundry service that delivers (because sorting whites and colors every Sunday morning drives you crazy).
Of course I’m not saying that you can’t treat yourself to something you’ve worked hard for, but having clean clothes magically appear when you need them and an entire Sunday to yourself sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it?