Why spending your money creating memories makes you happier

woman with sunglasses takes a selfie. Spend money on making memories


MoneyPlus Features Team

16th June 2017 at 9:41am

We all work hard to earn our salaries, put food on the table, pay bills and save for the future we want and deserve.

But how do you spend your spare cash after your monthly savings have been taken care of?

Do you impulse buy, or save even more for a rainy day?

I know that I often spend some of what I have left on whatever catches my eye on the high street, but the happiness of a new purchase is often fleeting. I’m left wondering if I could have put that money to better use.

Yes I save into my rainy-day fund but we all deserve a little treat. But is buying possessions really going to make us happy in the long run?

Do things really make us happy?

According to research by Dr Thomas Gilovich professor at Cornell University, in an article for talentsmart, material objects have a definite shelf-life when it comes to happiness;

“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.”

What should we be spending our money on instead? What would really make us happy, and stay with us forever?

Memories and experiences would, as Gilovich explains;

“You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

And the might of making memories doesn’t stop there.

We don’t compare experiences – but we do compare things

When was the last time you compared a life experience to someone else’s? I’ve never done that, because they are very personal.

When others tell me about their experiences, I listen and appreciate the story. I don’t sit back and compare. On the other hand, if a friend comes and tells me she’s just bought a great new house and I’m trying to scrape enough money together for a deposit, I will compare. Possessions encourage us to compare, experiences don’t.

Owning possessions can lead to impatience

We’ve all been there, wanting the latest gadget or waiting until we can afford that outfit that’s just hit the high-street. We become impatient but, as Forbes explains, waiting on an experience has an altogether different effect.

‘…anticipation of an experience causes excitement and enjoyment, while anticipation of obtaining a possession causes impatience. Experiences are enjoyable from the very first moments of planning, all the way through to the memories you cherish forever.’

Memories are one of life’s great joys

Material possessions can quickly become obsolete, which means we often feel like we’re chasing the next best thing. And we’re constantly disappointed with what we buy later on down the line.

That’s why chasing the best experiences is more fulfilling. As Lifehack points out, you’d better go out and make the most of it;

‘…you may want to take advantage before you miss something! The rising waters of Venice are not going to recede for you. Old Beijing didn’t wait for you, and neither will the Amazonian rainforests in Brazil. That fantastic new tea shop will close if no one visits….’

Seeking out new experiences and making memories is one of the true joys of life and really does beat buying the latest product or trying to keep up with the newest trends.

One of my most treasured memories is sitting on the shore in Crete at midnight, drinking the best mojito I’ve ever tasted with the waves weaving upwards and drenching my feet. That beats buying something new any day of the week.

So why not give it a go? Spend on something amazing, not the mediocre. Make some memories.


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The information in this blog or any response to comments should not be regarded as financial advice and is based on our understanding in June 2017.