How to Buy Happiness

Time isn’t Just Money. Time is Happiness Too.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase before,

“Time is money.”

But after reading an interesting article this morning I realize the saying should actually be adjusted to something like:

“Time is happiness.”

Why? Because I’ve always thought money couldn’t buy happiness, until I realized it could buy you something more…

Money May Be Able To Buy Happiness

My husband and I were once hanging out at a friend’s house and we somehow got on the topic of discussing the oddest job we’ve ever taken. This ranged from working at a Hello Kitty Factory, to being paid to push a button at random every time an alarm went off, to photoshopping pictures of cats, and so on.

The winner of the story came from our friend, who told us about one of his other buddies (let’s call him Joe) who took what sounded like the world’s sketchiest job.

Joe took a job at $20 an hour for a listing he found on Craigslist.

The job?

To come wake someone up in the morning.

Joe would come to a stranger’s house, every day at whatever time requested and simply wake the man up.

We laughed at the ridiculousness of this and were all very glad that the story didn’t end in Joe’s murder.

But after reading the article in Inc. today by Betsy Mikel, I have to think that the stranger and Joe weren’t that crazy after all.

Time is a limited resource, constantly depleted by the nature of life itself. The article argues that we should make it a priority to pay other people to do the tasks that we dislike because it could save us a lot more time and energy in the long run.

Two great quotes I liked from the article really brought that idea home,

“Can you buy happiness? Turns out if you’re buying back your own time, the answer is yes.” -Betsy Mikel


“You can always make more money. But you can’t make more time.” -Betsy Mikel

Time is valuable. Time is happiness.

The Guilt Factor Gets Us…

By paying others to do things that would normally steal our time away and exhaust our mental energy, we can increase our happiness.

Like time, energy is also a limited resource. When we exert it in one area of life, we naturally deplete it from another.

So why do we spend money in our society with a frequent disregard for this idea?

Why is it more common to buy a new material good than to buy time from someone who will come clean for us?

I personally think it’s the guilt factor. We tell ourselves a lot of I coulds

I could clean the house, I could construct this furniture (or maybe even: I could wake myself up in the morning.)

And we tell ourselves more I can'ts…

I can’t make a pair of shoes. I can’t sew a new shirt.

So that’s where our money goes. Because we feel so selfish at the mere thought of paying someone else to do something we could really just do ourselves.

But it’s more complicated than that…

How Much Is Your Time Worth?

Have you ever done it? I know I have…

Have you ever just spent hours stubbornly doing a task only to realize if you paid someone to do it, the cost would have been less than what you make per hour?

Here’s something that will help:

Ask yourself how much are your hours actually worth to you? …The amount you are paid at work? …Less? …More?

What you do with your time is essentially the value you give yourself.

“Highly successful people don’t think about time much at all. Instead, they think about values, priorities, and consistent habits.” — Kevin Kruse, 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management

If we want to squeeze more time into our day, we need to prioritize our time where it counts. Since everyone is good at something, and nobody can be the best at everything, delegation is key to making life work. For everyone.

In the book 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management Kevin Kruse talks about this concept further, explaining that delegation is the key cornerstone to time management and success.

He recommends asking yourself three key questions when approaching a task that needs to be completed:

  • How valuable is the task?
  • How can the process be any faster?
  • Am I the only one who can do this task?

These three questions help us to put our time toward that which is most valuable and find others to do the same in the areas we lack.

That’s the beauty of delegation. When done correctly, everyone wins.

Someone can make $20 dollars waking a person up, and then that person can save the time, energy, and strength he needs to get up and seize the day. Both parties win.

“Play for the name on the front of the jersey, and they’ll remember the name on the back” — Tony Adams

We Live in a Time Crisis

We are literally living in a time shortage, time stress, every day.

If we spend it the right way, money can increase our happiness. It can free up our time, allowing us to focus less on the things that nag and more on the things that give us meaning.

The article (and others too) also mention a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which explored this very idea and produced some interesting findings.

Across a wide range of demographics with a variety of samples, the study found that participants who spent money to outsource disliked tasks found an increase in their happiness.

“Across seven studies with over 6,000 respondents, spending money to buy time was linked to greater life satisfaction, and the typical, detrimental effect of time stress on life satisfaction was attenuated among individuals who used money to buy time.”

The study even goes on to suggest the benefits of applying this concept to the workplace

“More broadly, in the face of an increasing time famine, organizations and policymakers could move beyond their focus on promoting financial affluence to promoting time affluence as well.”

Henry David Thoreau once said,

“Its is not enough to be busy. The question is, what are we busy about.”

Call To Action

Be busy about the right things

Ask yourself what tasks you are you a really spending your hours on… Are they even worth your time in the long run? If not, delegate!

Spend your time where it matters (and your money too)!

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