Money doesn’t buy happiness. Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert disagrees. “It’s a beautiful and popular idea,” he writes in a paper. “But almost certainly incorrect.”
If money doesn’t make you happy, you probably aren’t spending it on the right things, he says. But how should you spend it?
Does money make you happy or not?
Daniel Gilbert agrees: money buys happiness. He wrote a paper on it with Elizabeth Dunn of the University of British Columbia and Timothy Wilson of Virginia. Money offers an “opportunity for happiness,” they say because people with money can live longer and healthier lives, have free time, and control what they do every day.
Spend money on experiences, not stuff
You may have experienced that spending money on experiences leads to more happiness than spending money on things. Although a new gadget or a new car does provide a brief feeling of happiness, it quickly becomes part of your normal life.
And that while a holiday, a concert or another experience will provide good memories for a long time.
Spend money on others instead of yourself
Brain scans show that spending money on other people activates the reward centres in your brain. And actually, that’s not surprising.
You feel good when you can help others (humans are social creatures), and just like with experiences, you can live on this feeling longer than if you buy a new iPhone.
Make lots of small expenses instead of a few big ones
We mentioned it just now, but we always quickly get used to the stuff around us. After a while, major expenses like a new sofa become normal. Your new iPhone will be a regular smartphone again after a few weeks.
Because we do not have an unlimited amount of money in our savings account, the authors, therefore, recommend that you make a lot of small expenses. “Perhaps we can better spend our limited financial resources by regularly buying nice things rather than buying nicer things now and then,” the authors write.
Also, think about the disadvantages of what you buy
George Clooney was one of the first people to buy a Tesla, but he eventually sold the electric car again because he was always on the side of the road with it. The lesson: When we want to buy something, we often forget about the disadvantages. There is also the saying: “buy a boat, work to death.”
Think twice before making a big purchase. That will save you a lot of headaches in the future.
Stop endlessly comparing
Imagine: you want a new coffee machine. Chances are you are going online and trying to figure out which device is best to buy. And while you were looking for a reasonably priced product, all the reviews and comparison sites suddenly ended up with an expensive fancy device.
It is not surprising that this device comes out on top in the test. But the researchers challenge you to ask yourself a question next time. Namely: does this expensive device really make me happy? Or is the reasonably priced device enough for me? There is a good chance that the second is the case