Can Money Buy Happiness? The Research Says It Can

money can't buy happiness

Can money buy happiness? The research says it can, but only if you use it the right way.

The Research

A study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that people who spend money on time saving services, such as lawn mowing, house cleaning, or grocery delivery, have a boost in happiness. Those who spent money on material possessions, such as new clothes or furniture, did not see such a boost in their happiness.

Surprisingly, the part of the population who spends their money on the latest phone models, a big screen tv, or an expensive pair of shoes are least likely to spend their money on time saving services – probably due to guilt they experience over hiring someone to do something they could do themself.

Participants in a study were given $40 for two consecutive weekends. On the first weekend, they were instructed to spend the money on something that would give them some free time, and on the second weekend, were instructed to buy something material (like fancy wine or new shirts). Participants then ranked the positive emotions they felt after each task, and researchers showed that they had higher levels of happiness from spending money on time saving services, especially when the service was something the participants did not enjoy doing themselves.

Another study gathered people from all different salary ranges in Europe asked participants to list how much money they spent on time saving services and how happy they were on a scale of 1-10. Research showed that those who spent money on time saving services were, on average, a full point higher on the happiness scale than those who did not.

What does this mean for you?

There are a lot of great services we can take advantage of that will help increase our time.

money can't buy happiness

Grocery Delivery

Many grocery stores are now offering to shop for you and either deliver the groceries to your home or bring them to your car outside the store. Especially if you tend to have a large grocery list, this can be a huge time and stress saver, especially when the delivery is inexpensive (my local store only charges $5). Yes, of course it’s something you can do yourself, but sometimes, you deserve a break. And $5 is a pretty great price to pay to have an errand done all while you’re relaxing.

Amazon Prime

The best thing I ever bought on Amazon Prime was a huge bulk size package of toilet paper. Yes, toilet paper. Mundane, I know, but I didn’t have to lug it around the grocery store (or even make an emergency grocery store visit to get it) and it was on my front porch the next day. Prime lets you get hundreds of everyday household items delivered to your door in a day or two with free shipping.


Moving has historically been one of the most stressful times of my life. The month before the move, I’m always anxious and feeling rushed about how much has to get done before I move. If that sounds like you, consider using movers. You don’t have to worry about a thing the day of, and a eight hour stressful day of moving can turn into four hours of you laying on the couch telling other people where to go.

House Cleaners

Growing up, my mother had a housekeeper visit the house once a month. Nothing wild, but the housekeeper did a great deep clean of everything. Floors, carpets, dusting, kitchens, bathrooms, she did all the time consuming stuff that my mom didn’t want to do. Even though my family would clean the house between her visits, it was always more of an upkeep type of clean rather than a deep clean, and took far less time.

Blue Apron

Sometimes, it’s not the grocery shopping that’s overwhelming, it’s the meal planning. It can be difficult to think of a week’s worth of meals in one visit to the grocery store. That’s where great services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh come in. They do the meal planning and grocery shopping for you. Their prices are reasonable top (about $10) per person and the meals are always tasty.


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