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3 Ways to Give the Gift of Experience

December 1, 2022


At Happy Money, we’re big believers in buying experiences over things and also investing in others. According to our Chief Science Officer, Dr. Dunn, “Happiness research shows that material things turn out to provide less happiness than experiential purchases… and research has shown that spending money on others provides a bigger happiness boost than spending money on yourself.” That sounds like a win-win.

Here are three ways to give the gift of experiences this holiday season (or year-round, if you ask us!).

Gift memories, not things

It’s easy to wrap up a sweater as a gift, but the sentiment is often fleeting. Things are nice, but they don’t impact us the way that shared experiences do. Think about how you could repurpose your gifting budget this year to give memorable experiences as gifts instead of physical things.

In our 2022 Happy Money Giving Survey we asked people to share what experiences meant the most to them, and here’s what they had to say.
Going on a trip with friends and/or family because spending money on memories is a better investment than just buying clothes.
I enjoy spending my money traveling with my family. I enjoy making lasting memories with them.
Taking trips to new places, since we are retired.
Traveling to different states or countries and learning about new cultures.

Pool your resources for maximum impact

Flying your entire family to a remote location for an excursion may not be in the budget, but consider connecting with friends and family to see if they’d be willing to choose an experience over physical gifts this year too. You could all chip in to go see an event or take a trip to a location that everyone can vote on. With the power of everyone involved, you may all get to experience something together that you never could have with individual gift budgets.

Pay it forward

While giving experiences to friends and family is great, also consider how you can give experiences to your favorite causes too. Organizations like Kiva enable you to crowdfund microloans, “as a force for good.” This means that your monetary gift can help a family in a different country plant crops for the next year or provide transportation for their children to get to a school. Plus, once your microloan is repaid you can keep paying it forward to other folks too.

Bonus tip: A platform like Kiva is another great gift-giving option for family and friends. You could set aside a certain amount to give and choose your cause together.

For even more tips on how to give to friends, families, and charities this season, check out the full 2022 Happy Money Giving Guide.