Connect with us


Finance: Sometimes you can buy happiness



PHUKET: I recently read a study about buying experiences versus material things and their relative effects on happiness. Interestingly, studies show that money only increases happiness up to a certain point, and buying experiences can have a longer effect on happiness than buying material things, even though the ‘things’ will be around for a substantial amount of time.

The reason behind this is that we quickly adapt to the new material item and it just becomes part of the new normal for us.

“One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation,” says Dr Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University who has been studying the question of money and happiness for more than two decades.

This is why slowly increasing your wealth over time leads to more happiness than getting rich too quickly. You quickly adapt to the new levels of wealth and revert to about the same level of happiness as you had before you were rich.

Slow progress toward a worthy long-term goal gives you a constant supply of new reasons to be happy as you reach one milestone after another.

They say being rich usually just exaggerates what somebody already is. If someone is happy, kind, and caring, he or she will usually become a generous wealthy person who uses the newly found freedom of to do good things for humanity. And if someone was a jerk before getting rich, he or she will usually end up being a rich jerk.

Experiences can get the upper hand on a material purchase even if it is something as fleeting as one special day, for instance a rock concert from the artist you have loved since you were a kid, because the memory stays with you, but without the adaptation effect of seeing a material object every day.

Hearing a certain song often triggers feelings we had forgotten were inside us. The memories we build up from buying experiences, such as special holidays with our loved ones, are often the things that add the most real meaning to our lives.

Keep in mind it is not only money that needs to be budgeted toward buying experiences; many of the best ones are free but need time. Budgeting time for your loved ones is making great use of the most valuable asset we have to buy one of the best assets in existence.

Memories with loved ones are priceless when you think about it.

So, given the above, how do you plan exactly how much of your hard-earned income to put toward experiences rather than that new Benz? This is a very personal decision, but I would advise finding a comfortable middle ground between extremes.

I recently read a story of a professional baseball player in the United States who lives out of a Volkswagen camper van and spends most of his time in the off-season driving up and down the coast looking for waves to surf.

On the other extreme I know a rich local who has millions in real estate, but has never been outside of Thailand.

I don’t have any good quantitative approach to determining how much cash to use for traveling each year, but as with everything, make it so that no matter what comes to pass you are not with regrets. If you died next year, which of those things from the top of your bucket list would you be most disappointed about not having done?

Start to make a plan to cross a few off of your list in the coming year, if you can do so without making it difficult to pay your kids’ school fees or pay down your mortgage, that is.

When your body finally fails, as my grandfather’s is starting to do at 94 years old, you are essentially left with nothing but the memories of your life’s experiences. You can’t take the hard assets with you, although you can leave them behind to your loved ones.

When thinking about your annual budget for purchases, don’t forget to set aside something each year (time, money or both) to add to your list of memories.

David Mayes MBA resides in Phuket and provides wealth management services to expatriates around the globe, focusing on UK pension transfers. He can be reached at or 085-335-8573. Faramond UK is regulated by the FCA and provides advice on pensions and taxation.

— David Mayes


Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Politics14 hours ago

Vladimir Putin officially annexed four parts of Ukraine

Transport17 hours ago

Phuket Airport officials pulled tourist from van, insisted they use airport taxi

Thailand18 hours ago

Thailand’s strange laws – 10 strange laws in Thailand

Sponsored2 days ago

10 Best Seed Banks that Ship Cannabis Seeds Discreetly to You (Free US Shipping)

Politics18 hours ago

The long goodbye – Which way now for PM Prayut?

Pattaya19 hours ago

Pattaya Police Chief cleared of vice slurs, back on duty

Tourism19 hours ago

Reopening Thailand has a busy activity schedule

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Tourism19 hours ago

Today is the day! Full post-pandemic Thailand reopening

Pollution21 hours ago

Garbage in canals is worsening flooding in Bangkok

Weather22 hours ago

Hurricane Ian lashes South Carolina

Tourism22 hours ago

5-star squatters evicted from Layan Beach

Video23 hours ago

All you need to know about Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival

Protests23 hours ago

Anti-Prayut rallies expected across Bangkok

What you get for $X2 days ago

What $100,000 buys you for a condo in Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui and Hua Hin

Thailand2 days ago

Thailand News Today | Activists plan protests all across Thailand

Thailand2 days ago

Snitching on parking space hoggers could earn you 5,000 baht in Thailand

Thailand1 year ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism2 years ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism2 years ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11