Why It Pays to Buy Experiences Over Possessions
Spend Your Money on Experiential Purchases to Find Greater FulfillmentKathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA Monday, 20 February 2023
One thing that unites people of all walks of life is the innate yearning for long-lasting fulfillment and a desire to achieve genuine happiness. The question is, how do we actually achieve happiness? In a previous
article, we examined the question of whether more money can lead to greater happiness and it can – in a few very specific ways. In this article, we’ll look at the importance of choosing how to spend whatever money you may have, with a focus on the impact of choosing to buy experiences over things.
Can Possessions Bring Us Happiness?
Let’s start with a question that is implied in this topic. Oftentimes, we purchase things that we think will make us happy. For a time, they may. If you’ve ever practiced “retail therapy” then you’ve probably experienced that hit of dopamine first-hand. However, once the novelty wears off, our happiness fades. That’s because material purchases don’t bring lasting contentment.
The Power of Choosing to Buy Experiences
Our experiences in life shape us at our very core. The same simply cannot be said about our physical possessions. So, if you want to accumulate more of something that will contribute to your long-term happiness, choose to buy experiences instead.
Unlike material things, our experiences get under our skin. They can change the way we see the world and the way we see ourselves, too. They can teach us things, and they can make us feel things. In addition, when you choose to buy experiences, you’re able to share them with others in a way that creates more meaning and impact.
As humans, we are the accumulation of every experience we’ve had, every place we’ve been, and everything we’ve seen. The things that we experience as we go through life become part of our identity, slowly shaping us as we grow. Even if you’re really attached to something that you buy and consider your identity as attached to it, those things are still separate from you. Experiences, however, become an intrinsic part of you through your memories and feelings about the experience.
SEE ALSO: Does More Money Make You Happier?
If experiences are so significant, shouldn’t we be choosing more often to buy experiences that will help enrich us, teach us, and contribute to our personal evolutions as people? Spending money where you spend your time is one of the best ways to ensure that you’ll get a good return on your investment. Plus, research shows that people who spend money on traveling or pursuing their creative hobbies and passions report better moods more consistently compared to those who spend money on possessions.
What’s more, psychological research on the topic shows that choosing to buy experiences trumps purchasing more possessions because, in reality, the excitement that comes from buying something starts well before the purchase. So, waiting for an experience, and all the excitement that goes along with that, elicits more happiness in the long run than waiting for a material good, which tends to inspire impatience more than anticipation.
Maximize the Power of Experiences by Sharing Them
As we begin to recognize the ways in which experiences can bring us happiness and enrich our lives, it’s only natural to wonder what kinds of experiences carry the greatest impact. For example, playing a video game may not provide the same level of personal enrichment as reading an inspiring memoir. However, competing in a video game competition with your closest friends may have a longer-lasting effect on your happiness than if you played alone.
This is because consuming experiences with people you care about tends to not only strengthen your bond with them, but it also creates a lasting memory to share together. Even after the experience is over, it becomes part of your relationship – where its impact can live on.
SEE ALSO: The Wheel of Life and Achieving Balance
Final Thoughts on Why it Pays to Buy Experiences
It’s my hope that this article will help you to be more intentional about the ways you spend money – not just from a financial planning standpoint, but with your long-term contentment in mind. Buying the latest iPhone will make you feel good for a while, but how long does the positive impact from that purchase last? On the flip side, think about the last girls’ weekend you enjoyed with friends or the last time you visited a brand-new city with your spouse or partner. Chances are, you can still call up the positive feelings those experiences provided, and many of them probably come from the people you were with and what they mean to you.
You work hard for your money, and you deserve to get the most out of it. At Flourish Wealth Management, our team is dedicated to helping our clients feel empowered and confident about their money and their futures. If you’d like to learn more about the wealth management and investment management services we offer in Minnesota and beyond, schedule a call with us today.
About the Author
Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA
Kathy Longo brings over 25 years of expertise and experience to Flourish Wealth Management. Kathy is wholly dedicated to improving the life of each client and finds joy in making complex matters simple and easy to understand. She excels at asking the right questions, uncovering new possibilities and implementing the most advantageous strategies for success. Playing such a pivotal role in her clients’ lives remains an honor and a privilege. After earning a degree in Financial Planning and Counseling from Purdue University, she began her career at a small firm in Palatine, Illinois where she worked directly with clients while learning to build a viable, client-centric business. Over the years, she gained extensive knowledge and wisdom working as a wealth manager, financial planner, firm manager and business owner at notable, various sized companies in both Chicago and Minneapolis.