When you have some money left from the money you’re earning after days of hard work, you owe it to yourself to spend that money wisely. It’s common for people to spend it on material things, but science says that there is something more deserving than things.

Why Not Spend On Things

According to Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a Cornell University psychology professor who conducted a 20-year study, things are not worth spending on for the following reasons:

  • New possessions eventually get old. Once their novelty wears off, they become less interesting.
  • New things always trigger new expectations. Once you lose interest in things, you often look for better things as a replacement of the old ones.
  • Someone always has better things that you do. It is easier for you to compare your material things with the possessions of other people. The game of trying to one-up the people around you never ends, until you find yourself financially exhausted and unhappy.

Why Experiences Are Better Investments

Gilovich and his fellow researchers concluded that experiences offer long lasting happiness for the following reasons:

  • Experiences help mold who you are. You are defined not by the things that you possess, but the things that you have done, seen or heard and the places that you have visited. Buying the latest gadgets to help you live comfortably will not change who you are, but climbing Mt. Everest will be a sure catalyst for change.

Gilovich wants to emphasize just how much experiences are a part of your identity, while things remain separate from you.

  • Experiences make comparisons a little harder to do. Things are easier to compare, but the value of experiences is hard to quantify. A Harvard research showed two groups of participants who were asked which they like better – a high salary that is lower than what their peers are earning, or a low salary that is higher than that of their peers. They were not able to answer the question. But when they were asked about how long they would like to go on a vacation, they picked a longer vacation, even if it was shorter than what was given to their peers.
  • Experiences raise anticipation. The time leading to your new experience causes enjoyment and excitement, while getting a new thing only triggers impatience. Even the planning stage is still an enjoyable process.
  • Experiences are short-lived. When you buy things that you thought were cool at first, you might grow disappointed and regretful over buying it, thinking that it was not worth your money. But since experiences can only be enjoyed for a short period of time, they only become more valuable over time.

Aside from Gilovich and his team of researchers who believe in all the benefits that experiences bring, Dr. Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, also agreed with Gilovich’s research, saying that experiences are “puddles of pleasure.” Since they don’t last long, they only leave us craving for more, especially when we keep going back to the fun times they bring in our memories.

Click on to watch the video if you need more convincing on why you should set aside a bigger budget to enjoy more experiences instead of material things. Then, plan on a new experience, such as taking a course, picking up a new hobby, or travelling the world.

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