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Finance: Sometimes you can buy happiness

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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 david.m@faramond.com or 085-335-8573. Faramond UK is regulated by the FCA and provides advice on pensions and taxation.

— David Mayes

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

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO | The Thaiger

We look at the recent changes made by the Australian and Indian governments to except control over the world’s biggest social media platforms. India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social. There is now an open battle between the rise of social media platforms and the governments and ‘old’ media that have been able to maintain a certain level of control over the ‘message’ for the last century. Who will win?

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told. The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO

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The social media giants in battle with ‘old’ media and world governments | VIDEO | The Thaiger

“The rules signal greater willingness by countries around the world to rein in big tech firms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter that the governments fear have become too powerful with little accountability.”

India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social.

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The companies are also being made to publish a compliance report each month with details about how many complaints they’ve received and the action they took.

They’ll also be required to remove ‘some’ types of content including “full or partial nudity,” any “sexual act” or “impersonations including morphed images”

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told.

The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO | The Thaiger

When the airlines, in particular, were asking the government to put their hands in their pockets for some relief funding in August last year, it was genuinely thought that international tourists would be coming back for the high season in December and January. At the very least local tourists and expats would head back to the skies over the traditional holiday break. And surely the Chinese would be back for Chinese New Year?

As we know now, none of that happened. A resurge in cases started just south of Bangkok on December 20 last year, just before Christmas, kicking off another round of restrictions, pretty much killing off any possibility of a high season ‘bump’ for the tourist industry. Airlines slashed flights from their schedule, and hotels, which had dusted off their reception desks for the surge of tourists, shut their doors again.

Domestically, the hotel business saw 6 million room nights in the government’s latest stimulus campaign fully redeemed. But the air ticket quota of 2 million seats still has over 1.3 million seats unused. Local tourists mostly skipped flights and opted for destinations within driving distance of their homes.

As for international tourism… well that still seems months or years away, even now.

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