Would You Be Happier Spending on Experiences Instead of Things?

by Miranda Marquit · 0 comments

I’ve long known that I am more of an “experience” person than a “things” person. I’ve noticed that I’m not nearly as happy when I spend money on things as when I spend on an experience.

And it seems I’m not alone.

According to the book, “Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending,” it doesn’t matter how much income you have if you are spending on the wrong things. The book is written by Dr. Elizabeth Dunn and Dr. Michael Norton. This pair has looked at the spending habits of consumers, and considered the ways that spending money can impact satisfaction and happiness.

One of the things Dunn and Norton point out in their book is that experiences offer more happiness than buying things.

Experiences vs. Things

My husband does enjoy things. He likes collecting, and he likes sharing his collection with others. However, he is slowly moving toward a greater interest in experiences than in things. In fact, he is starting to realize that he likes the experience involved with making a purchase of items for his collection. It provides him with a chance to connect to his sister, who collects similar items, as well as a relaxing way to unwind in the evening. The act of trying to find just what he wants, at the price he is willing to pay, is part of the fun.

For me, though, it’s all about the experience. The only time I buy things is when they can remind me of the experience. This means that I often buy a magnet or a postcard, but rarely buy anything else that will clutter up the house or cost a lot. I’d rather pay for box seats at the opera and have a great experience than save money to sit in the back.

Things eventually lose their luster and interest; experiences can be remembered over and over again. There’s no substitute for a great experience.

Choosing the “Right” Kind of Experience

Of course, sometimes spending on experiences backfires. What happens if you end up with a less satisfying experience? Before you drop money on an experience, Dunn and Norton suggest four things to consider:

  1. How much will you be brought together with other people?
  2. Is the experience memorable, providing a story that can be told in years to come?
  3. Will the experience help me become the person I want to be? Is it in line with who I feel I am?
  4. How unique is the opportunity? Is this an experience that may not be repeated in the future? Is it something different than what I’ve done before?

As always, even when you’re spending on experiences, it makes sense to spend wisely. Carefully consider the situation, and what you will gain from the experience. Pay attention to what makes you happy, and how you can enjoy your life a little bit more. If you find that saving up for great experiences provides more satisfaction than buying more things, you can adjust your budget accordingly.

Bonus Tip:

You can seriously cut your Internet and TV costs. Find a Verizon FiOS promotion code here and you might be able to spend less every month.

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