Conventional wisdom says that materialism — that is, using your money to simply buy more stuff — is a quick way to become unsatisfied and broke. However, spending on stuff instead of experiences may still be beneficial if those things are experiences themselves.
Picture: Karoly Czifra/Flickr
As researchers from San Francisco State University discovered, buying such things as books, video games or musical instruments can still increase a person's happiness level because they weren't just buying a trinket. They were buying something they could use, something that would enrich their lives:
"This is sort of good news for materialists.
"If your goal is to make yourself happier but you're a person who likes stuff, then you should buy things that are going to engage your senses.
You're going to be just as happy as if you buy a life experience, because in some sense this product is going to give you a life experience."
In this sense, "buying an experience" isn't necessarily mutually exclusive with "buying stuff". If you spend money on movies just to put them on your shelf, that may be unhelpfully materialistic. But if you but them because you enjoy the experience of diving into that world, you can come out just as enriched as someone who spent the money on a beach holiday.