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Experiences Make Good Value for Money This Christmas

15 December, 2011

Experiences Make Good Value for Money This Christmas

Things to do, not things to have – that’s the mantra to keep in mind when planning for gifts this Christmas, says the Mental Health Foundation.

Research conducted by psychologists at Cornell University and the University of Colorado looked into whether people were happier when spending their money on goods or an experience. In a nationwide study involving over 1,000 people, experiences came up trumps.

“The notion of retail therapy can be somewhat illusory, as the happiness we gain from buying goods fades over time,” says Judi Clements, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation.

“However, creating new experiences – whether it’s going on a surprise holiday or even a special afternoon – makes good memories that last.

“It’s also linked with one of the five ways to wellbeing, connecting and spending time with others. Happiness is experienced at the time of the event, but also for years to come when you retell the story to others.”

Further research has shown that the benefits of giving, either of yourself or of a new experience to others, do not need to involve spending money.

“Christmas can be a stressful time that separates the haves from the have-nots,” Clements adds. “An added benefit of coming up with gifts that involving doing something with others, rather than worrying about what things to buy ,is that it can cost as little or as much as you want it to.”

Participants in a six-week experiment involving non-financial acts of kindness – which could be as simple as writing a thank-you note, giving blood, or helping out a friend – were found to have a substantial increase in happiness.

“If there’s one common thread that emerges from the research, it’s that happiness can be bought – but the key ingredient is your time, not your money,” Clements concludes.


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