If you’re wondering whether to use that extra money you came upon to buy that new expensive bag or go on vacation, a new study suggests your best bet may be the latter.
Researchers from San Francisco State University found that people generally know life experiences will make them happier, but they still choose to spend their money on material items because they think they’re of greater value.
“We naturally associate economic value with stuff. I bought this car, it’s worth $8,000,” study researcher Ryan Howell, associate professor of psychology at the university, said in a statement. “We have a hard time estimating the economic value we would place on our memories.”
For one of the experiments in the study, published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, researchers surveyed study participants before and after they bought something. Before making the purchase, the participants said that they were aware that a life experience would bring them more happiness, but that it would also make more sense financially to buy the material item.