“There’s nothing in the world so demoralizing as money,” a character proclaims gloomily in Antigone, but maybe he didn’t know how to use his cash. If we spend it right, research suggests, money can, in fact, buy happiness.
According to one oft-repeated rule of thumb, spending on experiences rather than objects makes us happiest. When asked to reflect on a purchase, people who described experiential ones—travel, say, or concerts—were much happier than those who described material ones.  Psychologists believe the “hedonic treadmill”—our tendency to eventually revert to our original level of happiness following a change—operates more swiftly after material purchases than after experiential ones: A new table is easier to get used to than a trip to Chile. They also say we are better at making peace with bad experiences (“It brought us closer together”) than with regrettable objects. 
Not all experiences are equally worthwhile, however. In one study, when experiential purchases were categorized as either solitary or social in nature, social expenses brought more happiness. People who spent on solitary experiences valued them no more in hindsight than they valued possessions. It’s not so much that doing things makes us happier than having things—it’s that we like doing things with people. This is particularly true for extroverts: In one study, they got significantly happier after shopping with others, no matter what they bought.