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How Waiting Longer for Experiences Helps Your Money Buy You Happiness

August 26, 2014, 6:00 PM

While money can't ultimately buy happiness, it does provide us with little bursts of good feeling, and the duration of that good feeling can vary depending on what kind of purchases we make. A study out of Cornell University recently concluded that spending your money on experiences, such as a vacation or dinner at a fine restaurant, give us more happiness than a new outfit or iPad. Researchers speculate this is because material goods are a known quantity whose value depreciates over time while experiences are less predictable and can help build long term relationships. 

The study also offers guidance on how to derive the most pleasure from purchasing experiences. In brief, delay the purchase as long possible, or make a reservation long before the date arrives. The time between deciding to have an experience and actually having it is filled with imagination and anticipation, allowing us to enjoy the experience before it happens. 

"It might make sense for consumers to delay their consumption of some experiential purchases to take advantage of the relatively more exciting anticipatory period that comes with experiential consumption. That is, it might be a good idea to make that restaurant reservation well in advance, to buy the tickets to the show beforehand, to start planning that vacation ahead of time."

Being smart about your purchases can make you happier. As Founding Director of the Pew Research Center Andrew Kohut confirms, wealthy people are generally the happiest on the planet.

Read more at New York Magazine

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