06 Oct You CAN buy happiness: and here are 6 ways how…
Six Ways to Get More Happiness for Your Money
By Kira M. Newman
More than a decade of research looks at how our spending choices can make us happier—or leave us disappointed.
When we think about spending our money wisely, we usually focus on getting the best value for the lowest price. We comparison shop and download apps to find the latest discounts and deals; we’re seduced by the daily special or the limited-time offer.
But, for those of us lucky enough to have disposable income, what if we defined wise spending in terms of the happiness that it brings? That’s a completely different way of thinking about our purchases, and one that we have little practice in.
“Most people don’t know the basic scientific facts about happiness—about what brings it and what sustains it—and so they don’t know how to use their money to acquire it,” write Elizabeth Dunn and her colleagues in a 2011 study.
Luckily, more than a decade of research has been investigating how different types of purchases affect our well-being, and it can help us turn spending into a happiness practice in its own right. The key, it seems, is to spend money in ways that bring you closer to other people.
1. Spend money on experiences
In a landmark study in 2003, researchers found that buying experiences—like seeing a Broadway play or going for coffee with a friend—improve our well-being more than buying possessions. Across different surveys, more than 1,500 participants tended to say that experiential purchases made them happier and were better investments, and that their moods were more positive when recalling them.
Thus began more than a decade of research into this phenomenon, unearthing some of the reasons why buying experiences is so beneficial—which can inform our financial choices in the future.
But first, some definitions: Although the distinction between experiences and material goods is sometimes fuzzy (think: books and cars), we tend to intuitively understand which is which. Researchers typically define experiences as things we buy in order to do something, which don’t endure in the form of a possession; and material goods as things we buy in order to have something…
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