- Buy experiences instead of things – a US study found that 54% of people reported greater happiness from an experiential purchase vs 37% from a material purchase
- Help others instead of yourself – a study of 600 Canadian and Ugandan students found that people spending on others reported more happiness than people spending on themselves
- Buy many small pleasures rather than a few big ones – overall happiness is more strongly associated with the frequency of feeling happy than the intensity (Diener, Sandvik, & Pavot, 1991)
- Pay now and consume later – anticipation is a source of happiness (whilst consuming now and paying later is like a sugar rush…)
- Read product reviews – knowing what made other people happy and why improves purchase decisions
These points are taken from a 2011 paper in the Journal of Human Psychology, which has a controversial subtitle “If money doesn’t make you happy you probably aren’t spending it right”. As well as the above tips they make the point that whilst money may not buy you love, most of the things that contribute to happiness are available for purchase:
Wealthy people don’t just have better toys; they have better nutrition and better medical care, more free time and more meaningful labor—more of just about every ingredient in the recipe for a happy life
Despite that, wealthy people don’t report themselves as being any happier than the less wealthy. The authors believe that’s because people are bad at predicting what will make them happy and spend money on the wrong things. The explanation for this poor forecasting is that most people don’t know the basic scientific facts about happiness.
That sounds like a solvable problem.