"Value Seekers" are materialistic but tight with money, while "Big Spenders" are materialistic and loose with money. "Non-Spenders" are tight with money but not materialistic, while "Experiencers" are loose with money and not materialistic, she wrote.
Tatzel then gathered information about well-being to gauge which types of spenders are happiest. The least happy are Big Spenders, who often have credit-card debt. The happiest are the Experiencers, she said.
The discovery that Experiencers are happiest doesn't surprise Tatzel. "Studies in the literature show that when people reflect on how they spend money, money spent on experiences tends to leave a stronger feeling of being happy than money spent on objects," she said. Spending on travel, workshops or education, for instance, gives a happier feeling than spending on a car for these people.
And a third study found that impulse buying results in either feelings of guilt or shame, and guilt is more productive.
Sunghwan Yi, a professor at the University of Guleph in Ontario, Canada, asked 222 college students how they felt after buying something on impulse. Those who felt guilty used healthy coping techniques, such as making a plan to reduce impulse buying. Those who felt shame used avoidance responses, such as denial, the study found.
For more on how finances can affect your mental well-being, visit the American Psychological Association.
SOURCES: Miriam Tatzel, Ph.D., professor of psychology, Empire State College, State University of New York; Leona Tam, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Va.; presentations
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