Is it better to take a vacation or buy a new couch? The NYT tackles this question and the conclusion seems to be that people get more happiness value from experiences rather than goods.
I thought it was also interesting that the article mentioned that anticipation increases happiness, and that by saving up for a purchase makes it more valuable. I generally agree with this premise. We live by the $100 and the $300 rule. Any purchase over $100 requires a 1 day wait for each $100, so a $500 purchase requires a 5 day wait, etc. Any purchase over $300 requires a family discussion and agreement.
I can attest to the fact that I very much enjoy our new living room furniture, which we saved up for and which we shopped for and researched over the course of a year. Would I have enjoyed the furniture if I had run out and bought it on credit, I'm sure I would have since there is something to be said for immediate gratification, but by waiting and saving up for it I do believe I increased my enjoyment for the following reasons. First, by saving up for the purchase I didn't incur any debt, there was no big bill to pay off for the next several months. Second, by waiting and researching I took the time to find the right furniture for the room. If I had rushed my purchase I likely would have ended up buying something that wasn't quite right and would have given up on my search to find the perfect fit (the room is odd shaped).