Can Spending Money Make You Happy?

March 23rd, 2010

Money Shirt

Most Americans are closely monitoring their spending habits these days. With concerns about the economy and a growing unemployment rate, people across the country are tightening their belts.

A shrinking budget doesn’t mean that people are going to stop spending, but it seems that some expenses may have a more positive impact than others. According to a new study from researchers at Cornell University, using your money on experience-oriented events can make you happier than purchasing actual products.

Although people certainly enjoy owning exciting new possessions, the study shows that buying goods can lead to feelings of guilt, stress and budgetary concerns. Researchers also concluded that spending money on an experience – such as a vacation, outing with friends or a dinner party – results in far more positive feelings.

The researchers came to several conclusions as to why people have such drastically different reaction based on how their money was spent. They suggested that most people will wonder if they could have found a better deal or a more advanced product, which causes feelings of stress and unhappiness. As much as people might appreciate the item they’ve bought, just having it around can serve as a constant reminder of a potentially dubious expense.

Money used for experiences, however, does not seem to cause such concern to consumers. The study suggested that people are less likely to compare events than material possessions, so they don’t ponder the possibility of that their money might have been better-spent on another experience.

One immense factor is how satisfied each person is with the product or occurrence that claimed their hard-earned cash. Cornell’s investigative team discovered that life-experiences led to far more personal satisfaction than goods. Participants in the study indicated they felt the highest levels of concern and doubt after spending money on products.

As it turns out, people may also be happier when they are just thinking about devoting their finances to experiences instead of material goods. Part of Cornell’s study involved asking questions about hypothetical expenditures. Even when the subjects were simply imagining making purchases such as clothing or electronics, they felt more stressed and unsatisfied then when they pictured using the same funds on a movie with friends or to take a trip.

We’ve thought of another potential contributing factor – unlike new possessions, experiences involve other people. While it is fun to own a new phone or laptop, nothing trumps spending time with friends and loved ones. No matter how important any purchase is, it will always be better when it’s something that is shared with others.

At PeopleFinders, we consider this to be scientific proof that our People Search service can bring happiness. We are dedicated to helping people find family, friends, classmates, military buddies and anyone else, and all for a price that won’t infringe on your financial plans. Start searching for the people that you miss sharing your life with, and plan some new experiences.

Cornell’s researchers turned us some very interesting results. People are happier when they spend time and money of events with other people. That’s something we could have told them long ago, and saved them the expense of the study. Live your life to the fullest, take in every experience you can, and thank you for reading the PeopleFinders People Search blog.

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