Social Question

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

"Will it make you happy?"?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (30606points) August 9th, 2010

This ariticle in the NY Times talks about how spending affects happiness. If I understand it correctly, it’s not what you buy but how you spend your money that correlates to whether or not you derive happiness from it.

The article goes on to say that buying experiences like concert tickets or classes for learning something new creates more happiness than buying material objects (unless the material objects are purchased specifically to be used in a pleasant activity like golf clubs or a saddle for horseback riding).

What do you think? Does buying objects make you happy? Does buying experiences make you happier than mere objects?

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31 Answers

lapilofu's avatar

I spend most of my money on good food and booze—so if my behavior is any indication, I seem to believe in buying experiences.

zenele's avatar

Every class (whether it be sports, tutoring or lately water sports lessons) I give to my kids, ranging from 20–125 dollars per class (yep – kite-surfing is costly) I feel elated – and for a long period of time. I love buying things for them, and I never equate it with what I could’ve bought for myself with the money.

I also like to buy books an music, knowing the authors have worked hard to make this world a better place. Sorry: I don’t buy much art – especially not arts and crafts. That’s just me.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

I know better than to shop when I’m upset or unhappy. It’s like going grocery shopping when you’ve not eaten yet. Everything looks really good and then you get home and go “I didn’t need this.” That’s how I shop. I think people are questioning what they’re buying and how it will affect them in the future or “will this thing make me happy”. I spend my money on movies, food, and bills. I’m buying “me time”.


Getting a great bargain on something I need or want, makes me happy. I happen to be a great shopper. I don’t like just shopping to be shopping.

TexasDude's avatar

I have expensive hobbies that involve material objects.

My hobbies make me happy (otherwise, they wouldn’t be hobbies)

When I add usable material to aid in pursuing my hobbies, my enjoyment increases.

Therefore, I get happier, despite the fact that I may have dropped a lot of cash on an object.

I actually don’t get much enjoyment out of experiences I pay for. Most of my favorite things to actually experience are either cheap or free.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I spend a fair amount of my money on books. Although they aren’t strictly an experience, I see it as an investment in my knowledge. My other main set of expenses is spending money on going out with friends and my girlfriend, which certainly does contribute to my happiness.

rooeytoo's avatar

I like buying what I need for my next project. I am always looking for a bargain in wood working tools or painting supplies. I just lugged home a piece of timber. I found it beside a dumpster. It is about 3” thick by 3’ long by about 16” wide, it is hard wood and weighed a ton! But I am thrilled with it. I am not sure what I will make out of it, maybe I will carve a relief of some sort, but I am more thrilled with it than if I had gone out and bought a similar piece of timber.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@rooeytoo : A relief carving sounds challenging and fun. Enjoy your find!

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

My biggest expense is subsidizing the farm operation, chasing a dream of profitable sustainability. I spend very little on myself, books and classical recordings mostly. The firearms collecting is sustained mostly by trading.

I get the greatest satisfaction from buying things only if the purchases are to make someone else happy. Status symbols have never impressed me, nor do I seek to impress anyone. At this point in my life, I’m really only interested in increasing my knowledge and helping others where I can; especially to help a certain young lady salvage her life and reach her potential.

MacBean's avatar

Whoever says money can’t buy happiness just doesn’t know where to shop.

NaturallyMe's avatar

I hardly ever buy experiences, i think. I love buying object, like candles, ornaments, puzzles that i can build and frame afterwards, food, clothes, the usual stuff! They’re all fun to buy and do make me happy. Buying a fun boardgame is fun too. And buying supplies for my hobbies is super exciting too, haha (beading and scrapbooking), but those and the puzzles i mentioned above are probably experiences. Come to think of it, i think i do have more fun in buying experiences (building puzzle or making scrapbooking thingies) because you get to use with fun stuff that you bought, wereas an ornament just stands there.
Anyway, shopping in general is fun for me.

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t like buying things at all, but when I get a good bargain, I feel better about it. I am glad that I have enough money for emergencies and to help out family members.

zophu's avatar

I hate spending money almost as much as I hate working to get it. I do like having nice things, though. And if I can get them for very little money, all the better.

stardust's avatar

Buying things isn’t a patch on buying experiences. That’s the good stuff there.
There are some things I like to buy, such as artwork for my future home and whatnot.
Mind you, if given a cash injection now, I’d be very tempted to buy many things.

truecomedian's avatar

Being able to buy something makes me feel human, like I belong. I don’t agree in hindsight, with all my purchases, but, I’m an American, I pray to the god of consumerism. In a land that offers religion almost like a fast food drive thru, I feel like I’m alive. There was a time when I gave my last thirteen cents to a kid who was playing a mean bucket out on the street for money. A picture of John Lennon wearing a shirt that says “poverty sucks” comes to mind. I’m kicking ass now, got all sorts of pocket change. Life is good.

janbb's avatar

The older I get, the less I need new things and the more I want joyous and fulfilling experiences. Last night, I was filled with happiness watching the sunset on a mountaintop with wine, cheese and good friends.

Frenchfry's avatar

Both does. I do get more when I take a class. I learn something. Take a vacation. I got the memories. Shopping for a new shirt well . When I look good I am happy, Watching TV from a new big flat screen TV well I am happy to be alive ,baby.

Cruiser's avatar

Anything I buy for my guitar obsession or my boyz musical talents, I derive great immense from. If I think about it anything related to music I get great pleasure from. The only thing missing in my life is an epic surround sound system, a Marshall stack and a 28 channel mixing board, Crown amplifier, and a wall of JBL loud speakers.

filmfann's avatar

Possibly. I must own 200 DVDs I haven’t watched yet.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I am already happy and the dress I bought the other day only enhances my happiness…possibly elevating it to pure joy.To think I thought that was only possible with shoes to match

CMaz's avatar

I spend my money at

That makes me happy.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Hm, I agree with both @zenele and @FireMadeFlesh – mostly I spend all my money on my kids and their experiences (Music Together, swimming lessons, going to museums and events) and books – all these are worth it, to me.

downtide's avatar

I am exactly the same as @lapilofu. The things I get most pleasure out of are good food, good drink and travel. It’s nice to have “toys” and gadgets but I find they don;t get used nearly as much as I expect. No sense buying a state of the art digital camera, if you never go anywhere to take amazing photographs.

BoBo1946's avatar

If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost any other area of his life.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

This makes some sense to me because I get a lot of satisfaction from particular spending. I might be one of the few people who enjoys paying my bills and budgeting. I’m in the habit of cross shopping just about anything I think I want and then saving a picture of it to a file on the computer. From time to time I’ll delete something and move on to saving for another item instead. When I can finally bring a saved for item home then I really do feel good. As much as enjoy eating out, that’s got to be one expense where I don’t feel much lasting fondness.

le_inferno's avatar

Obviously, spending money for entertainment and spending money for status symbols or useless trinkets are two different things. It’s not a very mind-blowing concept to realize that money invested in activities you enjoy makes you happy.


I agree with @Simone_De_Beauvoir , there are some things money will not buy, that can make you happier that you ever thought possible. Family, kids, lovers, friends, collecting memories. All of which are much more valuable than things or tickets to somewhere.

truecomedian's avatar

@RANGIEBABY but those happinesses are only possible if you have money. What kind of family are you going to have if you have no money? How you going to support the kids? Try and find a lover with no money in your pocket, that’s practically prostitution. Poor people have poor friends and with them you can make some poor memories. Laugh about where you urinated the night before. This is just a generalization.


@truecomedian you don’t have to have money to have love. I grew up in a family of 4 daughters and we had very little. But we did have happiness and love in our family. We learned good values and morals to take through our lives. I have one of the best childhoods anyone could ask for. My mother was the bread winner, my father tried. When I met my husband, he had a house, and that was about all. His wife took everything else. But we both worked hard, earned money to support the kids (2) and put some away. I can stretch a dollar farther than most people. We are now in great shape financially.
But I learned how to work and save as a young person.


@truecomedian you are so welcome.

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