This is part 3 in our series on the recently published book, Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, by behavioral scientists Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton. Their tagline is:
“If you think money can’t buy happiness, you’re not spending it right.”
According to their research, there are five basic ways in which money can be spent that increase happiness for the average person.
And we’re hitting these main points one-by-one. Feel free to start at the beginning (links above) or hop right into this week’s.
Part 3 – Buy Time
Unlike the first two credos espoused by Norton and Dunn, buying time for increased enjoyment is often a less accepted method of gaining happiness because of the wide variations in how it can be implemented.
Heck, we like DIY-ing things around the house and perform way more of our own renovations and improvements than the average person. But when we found out that it was about the same price to hire someone to take care of our pool than to do it ourself, that was a no brainer. The pool costs exactly the same, but we enjoy it so much more now that we’re not spending time fretting over it.
And that’s what gets to the heart of the matter – the more unpleasant the task you are outsourcing (and pool maintenance is pretty high up there on the unpleasant scale for me), the more happiness you are going to get out of the money spent in that manner.
But a minute saved is not a minute gained since it depends how you use it. If you’re wasting the purchased time on something that’s not going to increase your happiness, then you’re not actually getting much of a value for your money.
Think About Tuesday
Their advice for buying time is simple, yet highly effective. When considering a major purchase, think about Tuesday.
“Take the time to consider what you’ll be doing from morning to night this coming Tuesday. How will the purchase affect you on Tuesday? This … helps us make less biased predictions about how much any one thing will influence our happiness.”
This lesson, more than any other, focuses on getting the most happiness out of our everyday lives and routines.
Isn’t the whole Financial Independence thing just a way of buying ALL of our time? Every penny we plant, every dollar we save is just basically spent on buying time on the behalf of our future selves! We actually do a lot of uncomfortable, time consuming things now to save money because eventually we’ll have enough of it to buy back the rest of our lives. I sure hope my future self appreciates what a great deal he is getting…
My absolute favorite part of this book was when they talked about Roomba, the robotic vacuum. “With a price tag of over $300, a Roomba costs more than your run-of-the-mill vacuum cleaner. But a Roomba offers something that even high-end traditional vacuums do not: the opportunity to change the way you use your time.”
Full disclosure, we bought a Roomba while we were working on the duplex. We were so crunched on time back then, I was literally having minor breakdowns at the thought of spending the tiny amount of free time I had – after working full time and putting tons of hours of manual labor in at the duplex – sweeping our floors, one of the tasks that tops my list as the most unpleasant household tasks ever.
For someone who finds sweeping or vacuuming calming (do such people really exist?), a Roomba would be an awful waste of money. But for me, it took one of the things I hated the most and removed it from my life. My Tuesdays are much more awesome knowing that they NEVER include sweeping. Roomba’s been worth EVERY CENT. Seriously. Every. Last. Penny.
What have you done to buy time recently? Was it worth it?