We’ve all been told it’s wiser to spend money on life experiences—great vacations, memorable weekends, other diverting exploits—than on material gizmos, right? Well, research now explains why we don’t seem to follow that advice, and why we definitely should. Researchers at San Francisco State University discovered that, while most people predict in advance that spending on a material item will be “a better use of money” than shelling that cash out for an experience, what they realize in the end is that it’s the experience that actually provides the greatest sense of well-being and is the smartest expenditure.
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“People discount how much they enjoy having that wonderful memory they can go back to over and over again,” says the study’s Ryan T. Howell, Ph.D. But don’t max out the cards to make it happen, he says: “Saving up and paying ahead of time will feel the most rewarding.”