Money can really buy you happiness ?

New research suggests spending money really can make us happier, as long as we’re spending it on making more free time for ourselves – by employing a cleaner or paying to get the car washed, for instance.

Perhaps it’s a sign of our increasingly hectic lives, but the study found that buying time with our money gives us a better sense of well-being than buying yet more material stuff.

There’s just one problem though: An overwhelming number of Americans currently live paycheck to paycheck, and part of the reason we’re so behind on savings is that we’re paying for services we want, but don’t technically need.

Think about the last thing you hired someone to do so you wouldn’t have to tackle it yourself. Was it a potentially dangerous job, like fixing a roof, or was it a task you were perfectly capable of handling, like trimming the bushes outside your window? Chances are, it was something along the lines of the latter — a luxury, and not a necessity.

Of course, it’s not like most of us don’t deserve a break. Given the number of hours many of us spend on the job, it’s natural to want to salvage whatever remaining time we have left during the week. But if you’re going to consistently spend money to buy yourself happiness in the form of free time, you’ll need to set some priorities and find ways to carve out savings opportunities. Otherwise, what you gain in short-term satisfaction, you’ll lose in long-term financial stress.

Striking a balance

If you’re a strong saver — meaning, you have a fully loaded emergency fund and have begun building a solid nest egg — then you shouldn’t hesitate to use a portion of your disposable income to free up valuable time for you to enjoy. In fact, many people value experiences over possessions, so if you’d rather spend $200 a month on a landscaping service so you can reclaim your weekends for leisure, by all means.

But most people aren’t in that sort of position. For one thing, 69% of U.S. adults have less than $1,000 in the bank. And that’s hardly enough to serve as a full emergency fund. Secondly, a good 33% of workers have no retirement savings to show for, many of whom are older employees with limited time to catch up.

While it makes sense that you’d want to use your hard-earned money to enjoy your life, and spend less time on tasks you find loathsome, there’s a limit as to how much you should be spending on such conveniences when your immediate and long-term savings are sorely lacking. So, if you’re currently paying hundreds of dollars each month to have other people maintain your home, do your laundry, or chauffeur you from place to place, it’s time to rethink that spending and set some priorities.

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