What You Should Really Spend Your Money On To Buy Happiness [Study]


Many people say “money can’t buy happiness,” but according to science (at least as much science as you consider psychology to be), spending money on certain kinds of purchases actually can make you happier than others.

In a 2003 study, psychology professors Leaf Van Boven and Thomas Gilovich determined through surveys and follow-up experiments that people were happier when they spent their money on experiences rather than things. The results of that study might make you realize that we impulsively put more value on obtaining material things that never last over experiences that can afford you memories for a lifetime.

Now, a new study, which is also co-authored by Gilovich, focuses on how people feel before they make purchases. Through a series of different surveys over a wide demographic, the results showed people tend to be more positive when they wait for or anticipate experiences, no matter what the cost, than when they are waiting to buy a material possession.

“Experiential purchases (money spent on doing) tend to provide more enduring happiness than material purchases (money spent on having) …  We argue that waiting for experiences tends to be more positive than waiting for possessions.”

In essence, the study completes a full circle — you are typically happier before, during and after spending your money on flights, events or any adventure-type experiences. You might not think of it this way initially, but waiting for a ride at Disneyland actually makes you happier overall in the long term than waiting in line for days for a new iPhone. So the next time you want to spend your money on a new toy, remember that you can buy more happiness by actually doing something.

Just try telling this to the riotous hordes of people waiting in line and itching for deals on Black Friday.

h/t: Quartz


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