Recently, my boyfriend and I grew tired of 9 p.m. dinner fights and pizza orders, so we signed up for Blue Apron. Now, our fridge is filled with individually wrapped celery stalks and 1-ounce packets of aioli, ready to be transformed, cooking-show style, into an edible meal—even after a 14-hour workday.
We live in the suburbs, so when I have an after-work event, I hail whichever car-sharing service had fewer labor abuses that week and try not to ever mention it to my Marxist father.
And a month ago, after realizing I would need approximately 900 shift dresses to fulfill my moderating duties at the Aspen Ideas Festival, I tried a service that shops for you. I had to return all but an overpriced blouse, but at least I didn’t have to leave the house, look at it, or even click on anything first.
Sure, my life might seem like the bleak portrait of late capitalism, but in fact, it’s the epitome of good cheer. So says a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which found that people who use such “time-saving” services are generally happier than those who don’t.
Researchers asked participants in the United States, Denmark, Canada, and the Netherlands how much money they spent each month on having someone else do tasks they found unpleasant, as well as how satisfied they were with their lives. The services could include things like a grocery delivery service, a housecleaner, or taking cabs rather than buses. About 28 percent of the respondents spent money in this way, spending about $147.95 each. Across countries and income levels, those who spent money to save time reported greater levels of life satisfaction.
The explanation was simple: Using money to buy time made people feel less time-crunched, and thus, happier.