My husband and I took my 15 year old daughter to see Hamilton a couple nights ago. Her birthday was January 29th, the same day that Hamilton opened in Columbus. She told me last summer that she would like to go to the show for her birthday. I informed her that I would try to get tickets, but that she would not get anything else due to the cost. I knew Hamilton had sold out in almost every city up to that point. After much stress and duress and of course, money, I was able to secure two tickets. My husband was later able to get a single ticket for the same night. While he was not right next to us, all three of us were able to experience the show together. Since the tickets were a good chunk of change, I made it part of her Christmas as well as her only birthday present. We also took her to a nice restaurant prior to the show as part of the whole experience. While we do not struggle financially, we are not rich by any standards, but this was one of those times when the experience far surpassed the purchase price.
In fact, research shows that when we spend money on experiences, and especially experiences we share with others, it improves our well-being more than buying possessions. The main reason is the experiences help us make memories. When we do things with others, it gives us greater pleasure. However, even if we go solo to a movie or on a vacation, we can share that experience later with our family, friends, or co-workers. These memories can be relived over and over. It is this sharing that gives us a bigger benefit compared to buying.
Research defines experiences as things we purchase in order to DO something and possessions as things we purchase in order to HAVE something. There are purchases that fall in to both categories, such as a bike. The bike is a possession, but it can enable you to have more experiences, such as solo rides or group rides with family and friends. When we look at possessions as a way to have more experiences, we tend to feel better about buying them.
There are definite benefits to our overall health and well-being associated with giving. Giving is not limited to buying. We can give of our time, knowledge, or talents, especially if money is tight. Studies have shown various health benefits from giving such as lower blood pressure, lower stress levels, increased self-esteem, less depression, greater happiness, and longer life. Jenny Santi gives these nine tips to make your giving feel good:
1. Find your passion
3. Give to organizations with transparent aims & results
4. Integrate your interests & skills with the needs of others
5. Find your tribe
6. Be proactive, not reactive
7. Don’t be guilt-tripped into giving
8. Recognize that it sometimes gets tough
9. Accept gratitude
So, the next time you want to spend a little extra money, remember these tips. Though money itself may not buy happiness, how we choose to spend it (or not) can!