Feb 3, 2017 |

Experiences Vs Things

Cooper Parry Wealth won Best Financial Adviser to Work For in the UK. We thought we’d mark the occasion by helping you to understand that you don’t need to ‘keep up with the Joneses’, take a look at these words of wisdom shared by our Wealth Team.

In this modern world, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting more and more things, believing they’ll bring us happiness. Surrounded by the latest technology, we want instant gratification, whether it’s an Apple watch, the latest 4K TV or a brand-new car. But no matter how fantastic the product may be, the satisfaction is short lived. Almost like an addiction, once the initial thrill is over, we’re yearning for the next big thing – before we’ve had time to really enjoy the first.

As Oliver James highlights in his book ‘Affluenza’, we’re in danger of living in a state of ‘having’ rather than in a state of ‘being’, which leads to ‘wealthy dissatisfaction’. And during 20 years of research, psychology professor Dr Thomas Gilovich of Cornell University found the reasons:

  • We soon get used to new possessions, not viewing them as ‘exciting’ for very long.
  • We keep raising our expectations, always looking for something better.
  • We can’t help but want to keep up with the ‘Joneses’, constantly making comparisons with what our friends have.

He calls this ‘adaptation’. New things succeed in making us happy at first, but as soon as we get used to them, they lose their shine.

Experiences, by contrast, have much longer lasting appeal; they become part of our identity. Anything you own remains separate to you, whereas experiences (no matter how short-lived) become an intrinsic part of who you are. So, while owning the latest iPhone won’t change you as a person, walking the Inca Trail may well do. You’ll certainly gather some amazing memories to cherish.

‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ isn’t so much of a problem either as it’s harder to quantify the relative value of experiences than products. Instead, you can just enjoy an experience for what it means to you. Anticipation also plays a key part. In fact, half the enjoyment is often in the planning and research of an activity whereas with a possession, anticipation just creates impatience.

We love this saying by Oliver Wendell-Holmes Jr: ‘A mind that is stretched by new experience can never go back to its old dimensions. You’ll see new things, meet new people and expand your horizons.’ Doesn’t that sound more beneficial than just accumulating more ‘stuff’? After all, you’ve worked hard for your money so make sure you’re ‘experiencing’ the happiness it can bring you.

** The Cooper Parry Wealth website is currently undergoing a bold new makeover. If you’d like to talk to one of the team, contact theteam@cooperparrywealth.com

This communication is for general information only and is not intended to be individual advice. It represents our understanding of law and HM Revenue & Customs practice as at 14 August 19. You are recommended to seek competent professional advice before taking any action. The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you originally invested. Past performance is not a guide to the future. The investments described are not suitable for everyone. This content is not personalised investment advice, and Cooper Parry Wealth can take no responsibility for investment decisions you may make as a result of this information. Tax and estate planning advice are not regulated by the FCA.


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