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To buy happiness, purchase an experience
Old 09-17-2013, 04:23 PM   #1
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To buy happiness, purchase an experience

I ran across this in a blog post someone sent me and thought it made some interesting points. (Of course, being LBYM, we can look to creating free experiences, too...not simply buying them. )

To Buy Happiness, Purchase an Experience

Sep 17, 2013 10:49:31 AM

by Carmen Nobel, Harvard Business School

Conventional wisdom says that money can't buy happiness. Behavioral science begs to differ. In fact, research shows that money can make us happier—but only if we spend it in particular ways.
In their book Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, authors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton draw on years of quantitative and qualitative research to explain how we can turn cash into contentment.
The key lies in adhering to five key principles: Buy Experiences (research shows that material purchases are less satisfying than vacations or concerts); Make it a Treat (limiting access to our favorite things will make us keep appreciating them); Buy Time (focusing on time over money yields wiser purchases); Pay Now, Consume Later (delayed consumption leads to increased enjoyment); and Invest in Others(spending money on other people makes us happier than spending it on ourselves).
In the following video [BTW, no link was provided], the first in a series, Norton doles out some cash to two women in Harvard Square on a sunny summer day. The catch: Each of them must take the money and spend it on an experience.
"One of the most common things people do with their money is get stuff," explains Norton, an associate professor of marketing at Harvard Business School. "But we have shown…in research that stuff isn't good for you. It doesn't make you unhappy, but it doesn't make you happy. But one thing that does make us happy is an experience."


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Old 09-17-2013, 04:31 PM   #2
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I guess you could say that all FIREes have purchased an experience: ER!
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Old 09-17-2013, 04:45 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by omni550 View Post
The key lies in adhering to five key principles:
  • Buy Experiences (research shows that material purchases are less satisfying than vacations or concerts);
  • Make it a Treat (limiting access to our favorite things will make us keep appreciating them);
  • Buy Time (focusing on time over money yields wiser purchases);
  • Pay Now, Consume Later (delayed consumption leads to increased enjoyment); and
  • Invest in Others(spending money on other people makes us happier than spending it on ourselves.)
A lot of truth to this IMO, and 1 & 2 are best combined (make experiences a treat). YMMV
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Old 09-17-2013, 04:52 PM   #4
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Which Total Recall experience would you like implanted?
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Old 09-17-2013, 05:07 PM   #5
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I agree with many of the points except I don't think you necessarily have to spend any money at all to have memorable experiences.
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Old 09-17-2013, 05:18 PM   #6
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So "Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll" was all that was ever needed?

OK, older folks may remember the phrase as "Wine, Women, and Song"
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Old 09-17-2013, 05:23 PM   #7
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"But we have shown…in research that stuff isn't good for you. It doesn't make you unhappy, but it doesn't make you happy. But one thing that does make us happy is an experience."
Could not agree more. Baubles provide "joy" until the novelty wears off, leaving you wanting more. I wouldn't trade my honeymoon nor my trip to the Super Bowl for a new car (which is pretty much what the two combined cost). Two relatively expensive experiences that are amongst my most fond memories to date.

I also agree that ER is an "experience" worth saving for.
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Old 09-18-2013, 06:15 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by omni550 View Post
"One of the most common things people do with their money is get stuff," explains Norton, an associate professor of marketing at Harvard Business School. "But we have shown…in research that stuff isn't good for you. It doesn't make you unhappy, but it doesn't make you happy. But one thing that does make us happy is an experience."
omni
Our honeymoon (26 years ago) was backpacking in the Smokies. Since then we like to try different experiences. Hot air balloon, Skydiving, hiking the Inca Trail, trip up the Amazon to a biological research station, down hill sking trips, motorized hang gliding, Riding elephants in Nepalese jungle, White water rafting trips, Motorcycle trips, road trips all over the US and Canada, etc. Unrelated injuries are slowing me down but I continue to look for more experiences I can still do. We walk to a beautiful uncrowded beach but live in a modest home and never had a combined income of more than 80k. We don't have a lot of things but we have all we need/want with a lot of great memories as well and plan on a few more before it's over. It's been a great ride so far.

Cheers!
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Old 09-18-2013, 06:52 AM   #9
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Works for me. DW and I take at least one bike trip a year, which we pay for in advance - New Zealand is coming up in January. And when we pop for the occasional Stones or Springfield concert we are always a bit surprised by how much we enjoy them.
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Old 09-18-2013, 07:18 AM   #10
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I guess you could say that all FIREes have purchased an experience: ER!
Yup. I remember when I first switched from working full-time to part-time back in 2001, I was buying my way out of the misery of working full-time, especially the commute. It cost me nearly half of my annual pay but it was surely worth it. In 2007, I made another similar "purchase" when I reduced my pay firther to reduce my hours again. And in 2008. I made my last of these "purchases" when I retired completely, forgoing the rest of my pay (but I was able to cash out my company stockand invest it with its dividends replacing most of my reduced pay). Most important "purchases" I ever made!
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Old 09-18-2013, 08:52 AM   #11
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Yup, I'd agree. Experiences trump things, hands down.
And experiencing life without indoor plumbing makes you appreciate it all the more!
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Old 09-18-2013, 09:26 AM   #12
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This is one thing that my DW has definitely taught me over the years. Being cheap/frugal by nature I tended to miss out on great experiences by being cheap (i've happily slept in or under the car on trips on my own and lived on hot dogs and cheap beer) She taught me that its okay to spend when you're traveling and save when you're at home. The phrase we use is: are you going to miss that $100 when you get home or are you going to talk about that amazing meal, cool hotel or wicked concert for the rest of your life ?
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Old 09-18-2013, 10:20 AM   #13
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The phrase we use is: are you going to miss that $100 when you get home or are you going to talk about that amazing meal, cool hotel or wicked concert for the rest of your life ?
while you can! Because when you get to that rocking chair, you'll hopefully still have some of those memories, but you probably won't have any of the "stuff" you could have accumulated instead!

Pssst: Pan American Highway...2015.
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Old 09-18-2013, 10:45 AM   #14
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I agree with many of the points except I don't think you necessarily have to spend any money at all to have memorable experiences.
+1

Sometimes they are free, and sometimes they cost just a trivial amount. We are always on the lookout for these free or inexpensive experiences, and have lots of fun doing free things.
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Old 09-18-2013, 11:27 AM   #15
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Works for me. DW and I take at least one bike trip a year, which we pay for in advance - New Zealand is coming up in January. And when we pop for the occasional Stones or Springfield concert we are always a bit surprised by how much we enjoy them.
If you remember, when you get back please PM me with how it worked and how you liked it. I have been thinking of biking New Zealand (though my wife would drive the "support car") for a couple of years. Maybe an ER vacation!
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Old 09-18-2013, 11:29 AM   #16
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while you can! Because when you get to that rocking chair, you'll hopefully still have some of those memories, but you probably won't have any of the "stuff" you could have accumulated instead!

Pssst: Pan American Highway...2015.
right on.. exactly what I was trying to say in my less than eloquent fashion.

ha... you temptress.. mind you, permission from DW has already been sought and approved... ;o) i'll take a seat near the back, on the left hand side..
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Old 09-18-2013, 11:30 AM   #17
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So "Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll" was all that was ever needed?

OK, older folks may remember the phrase as "Wine, Women, and Song"
No one that old left on earth.
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Old 09-18-2013, 11:34 AM   #18
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right on.. exactly what I was trying to say in my less than eloquent fashion.

ha... you temptress.. mind you, permission from DW has already been sought and approved... ;o) i'll take a seat near the back, on the left hand side..
It's yours.
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Old 09-18-2013, 11:38 AM   #19
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So "Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll" was all that was ever needed?
Sometimes things and experiences make the best combination. Like my old grand pappy used to say, " I spent most of my money on booze and women, the rest I wasted".
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Old 09-18-2013, 11:41 AM   #20
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The Forbes link: Want To Buy Happiness? Purchase An Experience. - Forbes
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