Recently, the New York Times ran an article called "But Will it Make You Happy?" that spent many days in the "Most Shared" section of the paper. It explored what makes people happier: things or experiences and, as you may have guessed, the article cited recent research that showed experieces make us happier than material goods.
This very topic became an issue in my household as my husband and I debated whether we should buy season tickets for the Indianapolis Colts football season this year. Based on the seats we could best afford, we were looking at a total spend of about $2500-$3000. Not an insignificant amount of money. We both started thinking of all the things we could be doing with that money. All the things we could buy. But having read the NY Times article, we decided to think of our potential spend as a function of what would make us happier.
Having the Colts tickets would:
- Allow us to spend time together enjoying something we both love.
- Help us make memories that will last a lifetime and that we will be able to look back on fondly.
- Create a greater sense of excitement and attacment to our home team.
Buying something with the money, or leaving it in savings would:
- Allow us to have something we may have been wanting but have put off purchasing because it's a want not a need (for example, I want a Blendtec blender, he wants a nice watch).
- Allow to gain interest (granted it's barely 1.5% right now that we're getting).
When we looked at the comparison side-by-side, the decision was obvious and we did neither.
What we ended up doing was deciding on the 3 or 4 games we most want to see and looked for the best ticket-to-price match we could find. This way, we're seeing the games we're the most interested in, getting the best seats we can, and still not spending $2500+ for all the games. We reasoned that going to all the home games in the season was really a little too much for us and that it would be foolish to go to games we weren't that excited about. And this way, it really become a big event for us, and much more special because we'll be in really awesome seats to see the games.
So, how does this matter for you? I encourage you to think about what experiences you really enjoy and to think of valuing those over any material items you may want. The problem with most material wants (not needs) is that they:
- go out of style or become outdated and then don't bring us pleasure. And sometimes this can happen really fast.
- they break or wear down.
- they are eventually replaced with a newer, fancier version.
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