After you’ve paid your bills and set aside money for savings, how do you spend your “fun” money? Do you spend your money on experiences, or do you spend them on things? Science says that if you want to be really happy, you should spend your money on experiences.
According to a 20-year study conducted by Dr. Thomas Gilovich of Cornell University, spending money on things is often unfulfilling because the happiness they bring is usually short-lived. Why?
We get used to our new toys:
Yes, having the latest phone is cool and all for the first few months, but pretty soon you’ll just get used to it, and the joy you got from using your new gadget will fade once it becomes part of your routine.
“One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation,” Gilovich tells Fast Company. “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”
We keep wanting more
There’s always going to be a shinier, newer thing that’s better than the shiny new thing we just got. We all have the tendency of keeping up with the Joneses, making comparisons and always trying to one-up our friends and acquaintances.
“The tendency of keeping up with the Joneses tends to be more pronounced for material goods than for experiential purchases,” says Gilovich. “It certainly bothers us if we’re on a vacation and see people staying in a better hotel or flying first class. But it doesn’t produce as much envy as when we’re outgunned on material goods.”
Why you should spend your money on experiences
Gilovich also explained why spending on experiences is far more fulfilling than spending on things.
1. Experiences become part of you
Even though you keep material possessions with you, and experiences are once-and-done, experiences stay with you after the fact.
“Your experiences really are part of you,” says Gilovich. “We are the sum total of our experiences.”
2. Even bad experiences can be good in the long run
A bad purchase almost always stays negative, but Gilovich found that people who had negative experiences tended to view these in a more positive light once they got to talk about it. Why? It might become a funny story, or perhaps looked at as a character-building experience.
3. Experiences make better connections
The fact is, you’re more likely to foster a connection with someone you went on a trip with to India than with someone who also bought the latest iPhone.
And even when you didn’t experience something with someone, it’s easier to bond over experiences. If you’ve had similar experiences, you can compare notes, or simply trade stories.
Do you agree that you should spend your money on experiences to be happier?
Read more articles: