Think About the Big Picture Before Making a Major Purchase
Before making a big purchase, such as a summer home, it’s important to think about how the purchase will fit into your daily life, and keep in mind all of the minor details that could end up affecting your overall happiness. The Harvard researchers give the example of buying a lake house. While most people who aspire to buy a lake house think of the peace and quiet and sunset views, they often fail to think about less pleasant details such as the long drives to and from the house or an abundance of mosquitoes.
“Cast in the soft light of imagination, these unpleasant, inessential details naturally recede from view, potentially biasing consumers’ predictions about the degree of happiness that their purchases will provide,” the study said.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t make a major purchase because there are some drawbacks; rather, it’s important to be realistic about your purchase so you don’t overestimate the happiness it will provide. Believing a purchase will make you happier than it actually will could make you more likely to spend money on something you can’t actually afford.