Should You Buy Stuff or Experiences?

What's a better way to spend your money: trips or possessions? What's a better way to spend your money: trips or possessions?

Should You
Buy Stuff
or
Experiences?

The internal battle over
our disposable income

Experiences or things? Places or possessions? It seems to be an age-old question that's been the subject of many articles and academic studies. Recent research from San Francisco State University, along with a handful of medical journals, all point toward experiences being the best predictor of happiness. They concluded that the initial thrill of purchasing things fades but the joy and memories of experiences last a lifetime. "Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods," psychology professor Dr. Thomas Gilovich told Fast Company. "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."

The truth is, there's so much noise surrounding our newfound love for vacation that one seminal study is hard to settle on. And new data suggests that it depends on how much money you have. People in lower socioeconomic groups get just as much, if not more, satisfaction when they spend on objects versus experiences. But one thing is for sure, if you take your Instagram feed at face value (which, generally, may be the worst possible idea) we all seem to be traveling more, which means going deeper into our pockets than ever.

The pressure to "get out there" has had such a large impact that the economy of tourism is changing. Startups are finding success in targeting thrill-seekers with pre-planned trips across the globe—all you need to do is put in the time off request. Other companies are faking it by renting out a grounded plane to stage glamorous travel photos (at $250 an hour) in case you don't have the time or money for an actual trip.

But what if getting off the ground isn't all that important to you? For some, the beaches of Bali are far and a sunrise in Bryce Canyon is worth sleeping through. The good news is that the "things" category is wide. And for many, material goods are still, well, good.

So, what items are bringing the most happiness if we value something to have and to hold? The key there seems to be those items that have real staying power. Investments that pay dividends, getting better year after year. For those people, it's worth splurging on possessions that will last longer than a holiday weekend when they improve our lives and our moods. Regardless of what camp you're in, we've collected some ideas for your next big purchase.

Advertisement

Experiences Worthy
of a Splurge

The high-end hotel

Stay at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and soak up the luxury from what has got to be the best rooftop in any hemisphere—the floating sky park features a swanky cocktail bar, observation deck and the world's largest infinity pool.

A Truly
Indulgent Meal

Book your flights and hotels around one singular experience. Anything on the list of the 50 best restaurants in the world is guaranteed to be a keystone for your next memorable trip.

An Unforgettable
Music Venue

Pelham, Tennessee offers one of the most unique music settings in the world. The Caverns plays host to top talent in a completely natural underground cave, something no modern arena could ever replicate.

Advertisement

Items as
Investments

Outerwear

If half your year is dark and dreary, then jackets and coats that last a lifetime and bring comfort is a worthy investment. Barbour's IconS Beauchamp jacket is a reimagined take on a timeless staple.

$595 at Orvis

Headphones

The world can be a noisy, irritating place. Flying, commuting or drowning out coworkers will never be easier. Bose is the leader in noise-canceling headphones and the brand's newly redesigned 700 series will bring you daily joy at home or on the road.

$399 by Bose

Pillow

If one third of your day is spent in bed, it's worth having your face rest on something you'll enjoy—even if you aren't awake for it. Bedgear specializes in pillows tailored for very specific types of sleepers and body types. The Storm series pillows features Ver-Tex fabric that deflects heat, regulates body temperature and totally blisses you out.

$199.99 by BedGear

Shoes

A well made pair of men's shoes can easily last a decade or longer. They're built tough to begin with, only get more comfortable (and better looking) with age and can often be resoled to keep them in tiptop shape. A pair of Gucci horse bit loafers will never let you down or be out of style.

$690 by Gucci

Vintage Watch

An old school timepiece imbues a man with a sense of history and status. And there are few status symbols more coveted or revered than a Rolex watch. It's at once a decadent indicator of a man's success and a useful timepiece durable enough to last a lifetime (or more).

$4,400 at Crown & Caliber

Midcentury
Furniture

Influenced by the early 20th century schools of Bauhaus and De Stijl, mid-century modern followed the founding principles of architects and artists who sought to create a bare and beautiful style. The pieces, like Eero Saarinen's womb chair, have a timeless quality that always seems to be in style regardless of current trends.

From $4,439.55 at Design Within Reach

Ready to be
more interesting?

The Daily Valet. is your cheat sheet to what you need to know right now. Never feel caught off guard again.

More on
Spending and Saving

Advertisement