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Would You Rather Buy an Item or an Experience?

I've never seriously mulled over the pros and cons of spending my paycheck on a pair of great pumps or a handbag, but the idea of splurging on a vacation usually requires some deliberation. However, a recent study revealing the monetary worth of happiness may have me reevaluating my long-practiced spending habits.

The study suggests that, assuming all basic needs are met, we're better off spending our extra cash on a meaningful experience — a romantic getaway or well-deserved stay at the spa — versus the latest version of the iPod. Over time, the material possession will likely lose its value, but our fondness for the memories of a great trip will actually improve over time — and they don't require maintenance or costly updates.

While this newfound insight has me thinking a little differently about my reluctance to treat myself to an out-of-the-box excursion, I'll admit, it's never easy to resist the immediate gratification of purchasing the must-have-boots of the season. So tell me, what's your spending style — would you rather purchase something to do or something to have?

Join The Conversation
BabyNorbert BabyNorbert 7 years
Both! Some items become a part of your everyday life - like in my case anyway an iPod - and yes others may exite you for a while before getting forgotten... I love experiences and the best gift to give is in my oppinoin something you can do together... I love both... and sometimes you can get both in one buy! I love bying magazines/books especially if I have the time to sit comfortably with some candles lit and a cup of tea and read for hours. A pair of shoes doesn't do that, but you can have great experiences in them! hehe
cordata cordata 7 years
I agree that it really depends. I've spent a great deal of money to travel to another country at the spur of the moment and I loved it, but I've also spent a lot (well, a lot for someone in grad school!) on a dress I literally had my eye on for years, and felt pretty happy about that as well. I think the key is just to spend your money wisely, on what you know will make you happy, instead of wasting it on stuff you don't really care about.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 7 years
Spectra I agree with you and to me those types of items are investments. It's not merely a bauble that will decorate the mantle, it's improving your quality of life (based on the individuals definition that is), and it's enabling you to have more experiences that you want to have.
wmoonw wmoonw 7 years
I voted "experience", but it's really hard to separate the two. I bought a motorcycle, and I ride with my husband -- does that count as an experience or a thing? Same thing with video games; I bought the thing, but we experience play together. The only material stuff I can think of that's really not an experience is home decor and clothing, and I can see why that wouldn't make you as happy as a night out!
sourcherry sourcherry 7 years
I'm much more willing to spend money on vacations, concerts or experiences in general than on material things. I never make a big purchase if I know I'll have a chance to do something fun with friends/family in the near future; that always comes first.
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 7 years
Good point Spectra! Same thing goes for things that make for great experiences with your friends, like.. I don't know, a beer making kit. heh.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
What about buying items that make their own unique experiences in and of themselves? Example: We bought a woodburning stove for our house and now we spend lots of time cuddling in front of a toasty stove, cutting wood together on our farmland, and enjoying a nice warm house. Those types of items are ones I'm more likely to buy.
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 7 years
A lot of times even small amounts of money (or none) can buy you experiences that are so memorable you'll have them for the rest of your life, whereas items you can buy for a small amount of money can only be so awesome. (Unless you're in the Czech Republic, haha.)
mek123 mek123 7 years
I have spent too much money on both things and experiences and I have better memories of the experiences than of buying something.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 7 years
I would much rather spend money on experiences than things. We've made family vacations a priority for us for this very reason. Even when it comes to things for me to personally do, I'd much rather pay for a mtn. biking experience here locally or a guided tour of something than go shopping at a mall.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
It depends on the item or experience. Generally, I've been known to purchase either/or.
HaterTot HaterTot 7 years
I spend most of my money on food and drink, so I guess it's the experience. I think nothing of spending a couple hundred dollars in a night on a meal and drinks with friends, but I need to think much harder about spending the same amount of cash on a piece of clothing or electronic equipment.
elle-j elle-j 7 years
I have mixed feeling about this. I usually try to think of what will make me happy longer. A spa treatment is wonderful for the day, but by the next day, it is almost like it never happened. When considering money when spending time with friends, I would much rather spend $40 on having three girlfriends over for a nice lunch and afternoon hanging out, then spend $40 on just my own meal at a restaurant that you feel pushed to be out in an hour or two.
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