While scientists have found evidence that income is linked with a person’s satisfaction with their life and other measures of happiness, less is known about the link between how a person spends their money and happiness.
According to researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder spending money in the pursuit of happiness is best spent on doing things rather than having things. The researchers noted that people receive more lasting pleasure and satisfaction from investing in life experiences as opposed to material belongings.
After surveying 12,000 Americans from various demographic groups, researchers found that people were happier from investing discretionary income on life experiences rather than on material goods. The study’s authors reported that experiences appeared to bring more joy than tangible goods because they are more open to positive reinterpretations, are a more meaningful part of personal identity, and contribute more to successful social relationships.
The study, which spanned several years, concluded with the author’s findings, “Our research suggests that individuals will live happier lives if they invest in experiences more than material possessions. By the same token, communities will have happier citizens if they make available an abundance of experiences to be acquired.” Maybe it’s money better spent on a vacation as opposed to buying that new high tech gadget.
In other research, individuals who spent money on gifts for friends or charitable donations were substantially happier than those who spent on themselves. Investigators asked 630 American men and women about their general happiness, annual income and a breakdown of monthly spending, including bills, purchases for themselves and for others, and donations to charity. Statistical analyses revealed personal spending had no association with a person’s happiness, while spending on others and charity was significantly related to a boost in happiness.