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3 Ways You Can Actually Buy Happiness, According to Science

by Penina

You’ve probably been taught that “money can’t buy happiness” – but is that really true? Nope. As it turns out, money can actually buy happiness – sometimes.

How is that possible? It isn’t like you can just march into the local Woolworths store and toss a bundle of happiness in your shopping cart along with your milk, carrots and Vegemite.

Nevertheless, scientific research alerts us to 3 different types of scenarios in which money can, indeed, buy happiness:

1.   You Can Buy Yourself More Free Time

If you’re like most people, you end up spending a lot of time on boring or even aggravating tasks that don’t bring you any joy whatsoever. Money can buy you happiness if you pay someone else to do those tasks for you, or if you subscribe to a service that automates time-consuming tasks for you. Any purchase that frees you from doing things you don’t like could be considered an instance of money buying happiness.

Let’s look at a couple of examples:

A female executive often feels guilty because she doesn’t have enough time to spend with her children. She works ten hours each weekday, and her commute adds another spent hour onto each day. Then her weekends are filled with mundane tasks like grocery shopping and washing laundry. She decides to try a meal delivery service and hire a laundry service so she can free up some time during the weekend to be with her kids.

The owner of a trucking company dreads the monthly chore of consolidating receipts and invoices. He decides to automate this task instead of doing it manually at the end of every month. He’s aware that some fuel cards send out consolidated transaction invoices on a monthly basis, so he uses Fuel Card Comparison to find a suitable card to use.

The search reveals a card that will meet his needs. It does have some extra fees and surcharges that make the cost of fuel for his fleet slightly more expensive; however, when he calculates the amount of time he would save on accounting, he realizes that it will be well worth the expense overall. This arrangement will free up the time that would have otherwise been spent on accounting and enable him to use his time in more productive ways.

There’s solid science behind the conclusion that buying time really does buy happiness. Researchers from Harvard Business School and the University of British Columbia have published a study in which they interviewed 6,000 subjects across multiple countries and income brackets. Their research indicated that people who invested their money in time-saving services reported superior life satisfaction as compared against people who spent their money on material possessions.

2.   You Can Buy Memorable Experiences

Researchers have demonstrated via multiple studies that memorable experiences such as concerts and vacations do more to make people happy than purchases of material possessions do.

The anticipation factor is one important component of the increase in happiness – so, if you are going to spend money on a trip or event, it is better to avoid impulse buying or waiting until the last minute to book your tickets. Instead, make a long-term plan that will allow you to savour the experience of looking forward to your big event, in addition to enjoying the event itself.

3.   You Can Purchase Something Special for Someone You Care About

Further research has revealed an often-overlooked observation: that spending money on other people and giving money to charity promotes happiness. After much study, the scholars researching this came to a logical conclusion. They determined that people don’t give more to others because they mistakenly think that spending their money on themselves will bring more happiness than it really does.

You need not necessarily spend your money on other people to reap the joy-giving benefits of spending money on others. People can achieve significant levels of happiness by giving to other living beings of any species. For example, holidaymakers in the Greek islands have reported that one of their most enjoyable vacation experiences was feeding some starving feral kittens in the alley outside their hotel room.

Right now there are many animals in need of help due to the wildfires; donating money to organisations that help injured animals is another possible way of adding to your own happiness.

So if you have some spare cash and you want to buy a little happiness, those are 3 different possibilities for how to do so. This hasn’t been scientifically tested, but perhaps you could achieve even more happiness by combining a couple of these items. You could pay to take your parents on holiday, for example, or you could arrange to pick up the tab for a cleaning service for your best friend’s birthday gift. However, you decide to approach it, spending your money on giving and experiences is likely to help you maximise the levels of happiness you can reap from each purchase you make.

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