I heard on the radio the other day that a study has been done that shows that more happiness is gained from experiences than from things.
Say you were to receive an unexpected windfall. Don't rush out and buy that new plasma screen TV (there's nothing to watch on TV anyway!) Apparently it will make you happier if you spend your money on experiences, such as a meal with friends or family, a holiday, or seeing a movie.
We have made the conscious decision not to send our kids to private schools (with all their associated fees) so that we can instead take big family holidays. For us, we would much prefer to enjoy travelling with our kids and utilising the education that living life provides. We don't have a TV, we don't have mobile/cell phones. We figure that we would prefer to spend our money on creating fun family memories with our kids.
If you think about it, it does seem to make sense. When we buy something new, like a new computer, a new car, a new item of clothing, it usually only holds our interest for a period of time before it becomes outdated or obsolete, or just doesn't "do" it for us anymore.
Shared experiences, on the other hand, provide special memories. Memories last a lifetime (except when we forget them...!)
Its nice to see that perhaps we are on the right track - indulging in experiences is likely to provide our family with much more happiness.