76,000 bank transactions led researchers to some interesting insights on spending.


A recent study found that money can, in fact, buy you happiness. Well, kind of.

There’s been a lot of research lately showing that spending money on experiences or other people leads to more happiness than spending it on stuff for yourself. In other words, there may be a “right” way to spend money.

This study, titled “Money Buys Happiness When Spending Fits Our Personality,” took that a step further by looking at how individual personalities factor in. Researchers examined 76,000 bank transaction records and found that “people whose purchases better match their personality report higher levels of life satisfaction.”

Different things will make different people happy.

To better understand this, researchers broke down people’s spending habits using the “Big Five” personality traits — extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness.

This explains why one person’s dream of saving up and traveling the world might not give someone else the same satisfaction, just as donating a chunk of money to a nonprofit may float some people’s boat but not others’.

Knowing where you fall could help give you a better idea of how to best spend your money. After all, a solid fit between your purchases and personality is more strongly associated with life satisfaction compared to your total income and total spending.

Check out the five breakdowns below and see which one sounds most like you.

1. Extraversion

GIF from “Beetlejuice.”

What it means: You’re a very outgoing and sociable person. You get excited when you’re around people and can talk up a storm like it’s nobody’s business.

What brings you joy: Dancing in the club, large dinner gatherings with friends, joining a tour group surrounded by complete strangers.

2. Agreeableness

GIF from “The Simpsons.”

What it means: You put the concerns of others before your own. You’re very compassionate and cooperative, and you love to do things that benefit other people (or animals).

What brings you joy: Donating to charity, taking care of the cutest puppy ever, investing in a socially conscious business.

3. Conscientiousness

GIF from “Creed.”

What it means: You’re all about controlling your impulses and achieving the goals you set for yourself. You’re also very organized and always pay close attention to the details.

What brings you joy: Signing up for that intensive workout program you read about, joining a free yoga class in the park, setting yourself up with a healthy meal plan.

4. Neuroticism

GIF from “Conan.”

What it means: You’re quite the worrier and are more prone to stress. You overreact at times and your emotions can be rather overwhelming.

What brings you joy: Cracking some self-deprecating jokes with friends, betting on NBA playoff games, clearing all your traffic fines.

5. Openness

GIF from “Up.”

What it means: You’re an imaginative, artistic person with a wide range of interests. You’re also very adventurous, ready to explore things you haven’t tried yet.

What brings you joy: Visiting a place you’ve never been to before, learning a new interesting skill, writing about something you’re passionate about.

But don’t forget: To actually spend your money, you still need to be smart about it.

GIF from “Parks and Recreation.”

There’s not that much room for happiness if you splurge your supply in one go. You still need to budget, save, and spend wisely.

Just think of this as a handy little cheat sheet. A simple guide to help you figure out the kinds of purchases that’ll bring you the most joy.

One of the authors of the study, Sandra Matz, told the Association for Psychological Science, “By developing a more nuanced understanding of the links between spending and happiness, we hope to be able to provide more personalized advice on how to find happiness through the little consumption choices we make every day.”

And that should make everyone happy.


Thumbnail image via iStock.

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