Elizabeth Dunn, associate psychology professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and Michael Norton, associate marketing professor at Harvard Business School, have been studying whether people should spend money differently. Their goal is to figure out how to get the most happiness for the dollars spent. In Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending, they explained their experiments:
“...We started doling out money to strangers. But there was a catch: rather than letting them spend it however they wanted, we made them spend it how we wanted...changing the way people spent their money altered their happiness over the course of the day. And we saw this effect even when people spent as little as $5...Shifting from buying stuff to buying experiences, and from spending on yourself to spending on others, can have a dramatic impact on happiness.”
In addition, buying time can improve happiness. How do you buy time? By paying someone else to do tasks you don’t like to do - cleaning, grocery shopping, home maintenance, and other tasks. This can relieve time pressure and free up time to do what you really want to do - and that can make you happier.
The authors suggest individuals ask a simple question before making any purchase: How will this purchase change the way I use my time? Make sure the answer aligns with the goal of having an abundance of time.