Many people will be familiar with the words “Stand and deliver, your money or your life” as the masked highwayman on his horse held up passengers on the coach.
When faced with such a demand at gunpoint and possibly at night, surrounded by armed scoundrels, it was all too easy to hand over your purse and to remain alive to tell the tale at the next Inn.
Highwaymen hundreds of years ago had a good grasp of human psychology when it came to their black and white yes/no option. There is always a chance to get more money, and after all, passengers didn’t carry all their wealth with them, but there are no shops offering another life for sale, no matter how rich one was.
It could be said that in modern times, money is held in higher regard than life itself.
Gal Zauberman and John Lynch have tested this in an academic paper – ‘Resource slack and propensity to discount delayed investments of time versus money.’ When the authors asked people to think about how much time and how much money they would have in the future, the results didn’t add up. It appears that we are consistently conservative about predicting how much extra cash we have, but when it comes to time, we always think there will be more tomorrow, next week, or next year.
We act as if there are no time limits. And that how much money we need is far more important. But is it?
It’s a question we face daily: Do you spend money to save time or spend time to save money?
A recent study revealed that those who outsource dreaded tasks or pay for convenience, such as a weekly cleaner or taxis, reported greater life satisfaction. Which seems obvious to some of us, because we are eliminating the stress or inconvenience, and freeing up time to do activities we enjoy.
Furthermore, when the study considered the difference between spending money on material goods to spending money to save time, research suggested that spending money to save time appeared to reduce time-related stress and increase well-being, while spending on material goods did not have the same effect.
Despite the positive effects spending money to save time has on our well-being and our life, the research showed that even when we can afford to, we don’t do it often enough.
So why do we do this? Behavioral psychiatrist professor Robert Whelan of Trinity College, Dublin, believes that this is because of our work ethic that values being busy, and guilty for paying someone else to do a task we could easily do ourselves.
At Capital, we believe life is too short to be spending time on things you don’t enjoy. If some tasks fill you with stress and dread, then why not consider whether you can afford to buy your way out of them? The saved time could be used on hobbies, down time or quality time with your friends and family.