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Does Buying Material Things Really Make You Happy?



Can money buy happiness? That can be hard for many people to answer because it’s easy to think that buying material things will make you a happier person.

The pursuit and purchase of physical, material possessions will never fully satisfy our desire for happiness. It may result in temporary joy for some, but the happiness found in buying a new item rarely lasts longer than a few days.

Buying material things most likely won’t make you a happier person, especially when it can cause lots of financial stress.  Sure, some things can genuinely make you happy, but if you can’t afford it or if you are only buying things to impress others, then you will soon have money issues on your hands!

The average U.S. household has a lot of financial issues, and more material buying could easily make your finances spiral out of control.

Now, I’m not saying that all spending is bad. Buying material things fine, as long as it’s budgeted for and you can afford it. Spending money to make yourself happy is nothing new, and many people call this emotional spending. You may head to the mall and buy a new pairs of shoes when you’ve had a bad day at work to make yourself feel better.

 “If you make a habit of buying things you do not need; you will soon be selling things you do.” – Filipino Proverb


Let’s delve a little deeper into why buying material things might not necessarily make us happy.


There is always something new right around the corner. 

New models, new styles, new features and new improvements. From clothes, cars, gadgets, technology and more, we are constantly inundated with the latest, hottest, newest thing. You may feel pressured to keep up, or disappointed because you can never fully get the newest things out there, but don’t despair, there will always be new things.

Possessions require maintenance and thus, money.

With every item you add to your life, you will spend more and more time and money maintaining things. The things we own require time, energy, and focus. They need to be cleaned, organized, managed, and maintained. Things may also get broken, lost, stolen etc. Who needs all of that stress?


Each monetary purchase adds extra worry to our lives. 

Every physical item we bring into our lives represents one more thing that can be broken, scratched, or stolen, on top of the financial stress. If you buy material things that you cannot afford, this can lead you down a path of stress and other financial problems. You may find yourself with more credit card debt than you can handle, personal loans, high interest charges, and more.



People aren’t all that impressed. 

Most times we expect our newest purchases will impress other people. For the most part, no one cares or will even know that you bought something new. If they do notice your new car, shoes or clothes it’s because most of them are too busy trying to impress you with their newest purchase also. You should do what makes you happy and only buy things for yourself, not to impress anyone else.


Our financial purchases cost us more than we realize. 

Emotional spending can prevent you from reaching your goals. You may be preventing yourself from reaching a financial goal, work or emotional goal by purchasing more and more. This can lead to additional stress, sadness or a feeling of defeat. The next time you are going to purchase something that is just a “want,” you should think about whether or not it will hold you back from your goal. We don’t just buy things with money, we buy them with hours from our lives.


Material possessions all begin to fade. 

The search for happiness in possessions is always short-lived because they are temporary by nature. They look shiny and new in the store, but as soon as the package is opened, they begin to perish, spoil, or fade.


What someone else has won’t always be for you.

I’m sure almost everyone, at one point in their life, has felt the need to keep up with someone else. It could be jealousy, feeling that you deserve the same things or something else. When trying to keep up with someone else, you might spend money you do not have. This can lead to a lot of debt and is really not worth it.


Material things doesn’t define who you are. Neither does money.

The amount of stuff you have most likely won’t make you happier, and your “stuff” doesn’t define who you are. Many people feel like the items they purchase represent them somehow, but you are much more than that. Who you are is defined by your actions, not what you own. You should only purchase things that you truly need or want.

Buying material things does not quench our desire for contentment. 

Instead of emotional spending, you should focus on what makes you happy and fills your soul with joy.


No matter how much material things we get, it’s never enough. Experiences make us happier than possessions. All research points to the fact there are far more effective way to find happiness like enjoying life-changing experiences, helping others and giving to charity.

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What do you think? Do most of the things you buy really make you happy?

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