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Money really can buy happiness, Harvard prof says

Nov. 25, 2015 CNN Money

Can money buy happiness? According to the old adage: No.

But a Harvard Business School professor says yes. But how much happiness you can buy depends on how you spend your money.

“We’re really underspending on the things that make us most happy,” says Michael Norton, a Harvard Business School professor, who has researched the science of spending.

With the holiday shopping season around the corner, Black Friday buyers may want to reconsider their wish list.

It turns out people generally get more happiness spending their money on experiences than on stuff. That’s even though experiences are temporary — dinner with a friend or a vacation — while stuff like TVs, computers and smart phones last longer.

“It seems odd that things that disappear could make you happier than things that stay,” Norton said at the New York Times Dealbook conference earlier in November.

When we spend on things like a TV or a phone, it often leads to activities that are typically done in silence such as watching shows alone or using apps to play solitary games, Norton says.

But on a vacation, people bond with friends and family, see new places, learn new things and create memories. The same holds true with relatively inexpensive experiences like going out for dinner with friends.

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