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You’re Right Not to Spend Money On New Stuff

September 12, 2010
Hikers Ascending El Hoyo, Nicaragua

Hikers Ascending El Hoyo, Nicaragua

Hey, it’s not me telling you that.  I’m just repeating this top read NY Times article, But Will it Make you Happy?.

And that’s not all it says.

We Don’t Need that Much Stuff to be Happy

“The idea that you need to go bigger to be happy is false…I really believe that the acquisition of material goods doesn’t bring about happiness.”

This has been known for thousands of years all the way before the day Jesus was born to modern-day minimalists like Leo Babitua. This isn’t a particularly new idea, but it seems to be getting more traction day after day.

Now that we’re in the 20th century, of course, we can do in-depth studies psychological studies and actually empirically prove what people have been theorizing for thousands of years:

“One major finding is that spending money for an experience — concert tickets, French lessons, sushi-rolling classes, a hotel room in Monaco — produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money on plain old stuff.”

So, there you go.  Spending your money on experiences will make you happier than getting just about anything at your local Target.

Yes, the new iPhone is really cool and shiny, but how about spending that money learning how to dance salsa? (or trying to learn how to dance salsa)  Studies show that will make you happier than your awesome new gadget.

You’re Not Alone, You’re Part of a Bigger Trend

I know what you’re thinking: you’re thinking that you must be the only one who doesn’t spend my money on the newest gadgets or the latest fashions. But, here’s the thing. This is no longer an underground, small group of hippies kind of thing like you thought it was. Buying less and spending money wisely on things we know will make us happier has gotten so big that large retailing research firms are taking notice:

“We’re moving from a conspicuous consumption — which is ‘buy without regard’ — to a calculated consumption,” says Marshal Cohen, an analyst at the NPD Group, the retailing research and consulting firm.

It’s even got the attention of the world’s largest retailer: Wal-Mart.  As a response to this trend, they have started arranging the items in their store to create experiences.  For instance, backyard items are arranged so that you can turn your own yard into your own slice of the backwoods.  In other words, Wal-Mart has started to sell experiences instead of just stuff (even though you are still buying stuff).

What This All Means

People all the way from the NY Times readers to Wal-Mart shoppers are shunning stuff to spend their money on life experiences.  People are foregoing the material luxuries for the emotional highs.  The world is becoming less consumerist and becoming more savvy at doing the things that make them happy.

This means that you are right when you don’t spend your money on stuff and spend it on experiences.  So, keep going out there and spending your money wisely!

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