In college, when my best friend and I were feeling particularly skint, we’d uncork a bottle of four dollar pink wine and say, “Oh well, we’d rather be rich in memories, and poor in money.” Though times have changed, I still feel the same way.
A couple of months ago, an article called “The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things” made its way across Facebook. The article received more than 1.5 million likes.
“Glad I've been on the side of science all these years,” a friend posted with a link to the article. Another posted the article with a note that read, “Yes!! …Call it a mid life epiphany. I'm tired of accumulation.”
It definitely struck a chord.
The article, written by Jay Cassano for Fast Company, discusses the pursuit of happiness. Cassano notes that most people believe spending their money on a physical object will bring them more happiness than a one-off experience. The logical assumption is that because the physical object lasts longer, it will bring more joy.
However, according to research conducted by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University who has been studying money and happiness for over two decades, "one of the enemies of happiness is adaptation. We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”
While I generally agree, I am not sure our best experiences always outweigh the happiness we get from purchasing an object we greatly desire.
Many years ago, while wandering through CB2 on a trip to NYC, I saw this sofa and fell in love. I went home, bookmarked the link, and thought, maybe someday. A few years later, it caught my eye on Apartment Therapy. I pinned it and decided to start saving. Along the way, I got married, got a dog, got a kid, and finally bought a two-bedroom condo big enough for a sleeper sofa. I sent a link to my husband. I had no idea what he would think about a bright orange sofa. It was kismet. He told me he happened to have the same sofa bookmarked for years also. We finally bought the sofa. It was ours.
Most of the disposable income we have goes to experiences. We eat in restaurants more often than we should. We try to take a vacation every year. We own a membership to our science museum. We spend weekends meeting up with friends at playgrounds, farmers markets, and the library. But when we get home, the first thing I see when I walk in the door is the sofa. It makes me happy every time I see it.
This brings me to another sentiment I hold true. When I invest in an expensive object, I try to make it something fabulous, that I have loved for years, and will hopefully love for years to come.