Young boy giving his happy mother a hug as they go through a photo album at home
28 Nov 2017

Saving time and buying happiness

We all tend to think that there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. In actual fact, we come across many opportunities to save time each day, but these might come with a cost attached, monetary or otherwise. Should you call a cab or take the train? Order in or attempt to cook dinner? The stress and unhappiness of modern life can in turn affect our physical and emotional well-being. Feeling sluggish? Have trouble sleeping? You’re not alone.

Is there a way out? Perhaps. A recent study1 has shown that spending spare cash to buy time can help to relieve the negative impact of time scarcity. Wait... what does that mean? Let’s rewind. People who spent money on time-saving services reported greater happiness and life-satisfaction. If you constantly find yourself pressured by a ticking clock — read on (don’t worry, we’ll keep it short).

First – some self-reflection.

Mother and daughter playing with some knick-knacks in-store

  1. What do you spend money on?

    Besides the essentials, how much do you have left that you’d be comfortable using to ‘buy time’? Are there personal indulgences you can cut back on that could be routed instead into preserving your sanity?

  2. What do you spend time on?

    Are you spending too much time on non-valuable activities? Can they be reduced or outsourced, for example grocery shopping, or doing the chores? And how much are you willing to pay for these conveniences?

While the research suggests that paying for time-saving conveniences resulted in happier people, let’s look at some ways you could save time—for free.

Cut the makan time queues

Long queue of office workers waiting to buy some beverages at a retail outlet

Skipped lunch recently? With work taking up so much of our daily lives, some might feel inclined to compress our breaks in order to pack more in. For example, if you’re queuing to buy your lunch in the CBD, it takes an average of 24 minutes from the time you start queuing, to paying and collecting your food2. That’s almost half of your lunch break lost before you’ve even had the first bite!

Thankfully, there are alternatives. Consider food-ordering apps like Koufu and other eateries which allow you to place your order on your mobile, pay via the app, and collect the food when it’s ready. Avoid unproductive queueing and waiting, and maximise your lunch hour instead. Hit the gym before picking up your food? Why not, you now have time.

Cut the banking queues

Log in screen of digibank

Still queuing at the bank to make your transactions? How about banking from the comfort of anywhere, right on your mobile?

With the POSB digibank app, you can make payments, money transfers and many other banking tasks, all through your smartphone. Most importantly, the transactions are secured, so you can enjoy peace of mind. Here are just some of the things you can do via the app, with ever-growing features:

  • Peek at your account balance without logging in
  • Transfer money to over 150 countries in more than 20 currencies
  • Pay your friends through PayNow
  • Apply for a credit card, personal loan or investment account
  • Scan your bill and pay it
  • Reset your card PIN

Balancing time, money, and happiness

Father carrying his daughter at the mall

At the end of the day, we only have limited time to do the things we love. Money can be used to buy us more time, just as how technology can gain us precious minutes and hours. So don’t feel too guilty the next time you book a ride, pay to have your groceries delivered, or decide to skip the queue. A little indulgence in your own sanity and happiness will most likely be worth it.


1 Whillans, Ashley V., et al. “Buying time promotes happiness.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 114, no. 32, 24 July 2017, pp. 8523–8527., doi:10.1073/pnas.1706541114.
2 Based on research conducted by DBS