Have you ever wanted to buy something so bad that you thought you’d be on Cloud 9 once you actually made the purchase? Maybe it was a new car, a new watch, or a new smartphone. You care for your new purchase like it is your baby and swear never to get a scratch on it. However, a few weeks later, the euphoria of your new purchase wears off, and you’re back to feeling empty inside. It’s easy to get caught up in the consumer culture because the economy and media, with its advertising, depend on it.

Rather than spending your hard earned money of tangible goods, spend them on life experiences, according to Elizabeth W. Dunn, Daniel T. Gilbert, and Timothy D. Wilson, authors of If Money Doesn’t Make You Happy Then You Probably Aren’t Spending It Right. Although the prospect of owning something physical may make you think it will lead to more happiness than an experience, studies show that life experiences give you more “memory capital” which you can refer to. Furthermore, because tangible goods stay the same, you get bored with them and your happiness declines over time.

Do you remember your first kiss? How about the time you accomplished something which you thought was impossible? You’ll remember events like these for the rest of your life and the more of them you have, the happier you’ll be. You are fulfilling your higher order needs: the need to feel wanted, the need to feel that what you do matters, and the need to feel alive. Aside from purchasing experiences, the authors of the paper say that you can buy happiness by…

Buying Lots of Little Stuff

Rather than spending your money on one big vacation or one night out to a fancy restaurant, spend money on affordable weekend trips and eat out at an inexpensive restaurants, which you enjoy.

Not Purchasing Warranties

Pass on warranties and generous return policies that increase prices of experiences and tangible goods. According to the researchers, we underestimate our ability to cope when bad things happen, even when they are as traumatic as terrorist attacks. Furthermore, warranties and return policies prevent us from committing to a purchase, decreasing our satisfaction with what we bought.

Thinking About the Big Picture

We tend to overestimate how happy we’d be with an experience because when we think about going on vacation, for example, we don’t think about the air travel, the possibility of a dirty room, or the water in the ocean being cold. These daily trivialities affect our happiness more than we’d like to. So, when deciding whether or not to purchase something, think about the little things that may make a huge difference.

Giving Gifts

The researchers found that people think they’ll be more happy spending money on themselves than on others. However, surveys indicate that because we humans are hyper-social, anything we can do to increase our social bonds improves our well being. Specifically, the researchers’ paper notes that spending on charity and gifts for others is related to increased happiness.

Buy Things Ahead of Time

Have you ever anticipated a concert, vacation, or eating something? Looking forward to something makes you happy in and of itself. And, even if your purchase isn’t that great, anticipating it makes you happy.

Don’t Focus Too Much On Comparison Shopping

When we comparison shop, we compare on features which sometimes may not matter in our overall happiness. Comparing 2 hotels based on star level may be a smart choice, but if one of those hotels doesn’t have any attractions next to it, it’s unlikely to be your “best” option.

Follow the Group

Have you ever bought something just because you wanted to try something “different.” You ignored the countless reviews you saw online and decided to test things out. The researchers note that when making a decision, we should just “follow the herd” to maximize the chances of enjoying a purchase.

Nickolay Lamm protects consumers from scams at InventHelp Scam.

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