money & Banking

Courtney Allan

Cashing out for happiness: Why you should outsource "negative" household chores

Cashing out for happiness: Why you should outsource "negative" household chores

According to a Harvard professor, outsourcing “negative” experiences, such as laundry or mowing the lawn can result in more happiness.

Ashley Whillans, who researches time-money trade-offs says that more people would be happier if they spent more of their money to “buy themselves out of negative experiences”.

She spoke to the Harvard Business Review’s IdeaCast podcast and explained the idea in more detail.

“We really like to flip Benjamin Franklin’s adage on its head and say, ‘Well, if time is money, maybe also we can think that money can buy a happier time’,” she said.

“Any way that we spend money in a way that might save us time — such as also buying ourselves into positive experiences — has reliable and positive effects on the happiness that we get from our days, our weeks, our months and our lives.”

However, Whillans has said that we need “retraining” in order to be comfortable with strangers helping them out.

“I find in my studies that people feel really guilty about outsourcing even though they’re giving up money to have more time that they’ve earned … People feel guilty about burdening other people with their tasks.”

Whilst it might be tempting to outsource every chore you dislike, it can end up with negative consequences.

Whillans noticed that people who outsource too much “experienced the lowest levels of happiness, in part probably because … they feel like their life must be so out of control if they can’t even do one load of laundry on the weekend”.

People on the lowest incomes also benefit more from time saving purchases.

Whillans explained:

“What we think is going on there is that people who are materially constrained also tend to be time-poor,” she said.

“They might be working multiple jobs, they might be a single parent. They might have to commute really far away because the only place that they could live is somewhere that’s quite far away from where they work.”

Do you outsource your chores? Let us know in the comments.