The one night of the week when we all are typically home for dinner is Sunday night, and it’s a bit of a tradition for us to have a Roast dinner, sit at the dining table and catch up on what each of us has been up to over the past week and what’s coming up in the next.

We got into an interesting discussion when Liz gave our sons an estimate of the dollar amount they might expect this year from their tax returns.

“So what will you do with the money?” I asked

Our youngest son Anthony was quick to say that it would be invested in his upcoming holiday. Anthony is about to take off by himself and have 3 weeks during his university break in Europe and visit some exchange student friends he has met over the years.

Matthew, our eldest son, decided it was perfect timing for him to be able to invest in ‘shouting’ a few of his mates and go Paint-Balling (getting dressed up in army gear and shooting at people with paint pellets).

Now, while I personally don’t get the idea of Paint-Balling, what I know is that science validates both of their decisions will have a positive impact on their overall sense of well-being (although Matthew will probably have a few bruises to complain about at the same time).

In an article posted in Psychology Today, Ryan Howell PhD  summarised a number of studies and also reported on his own research that validates the higher return on well-being we receive when we spend our money on life experiences rather than materialistic ‘things’.

Researchers Elizabeth Dunn, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, and Michael Norton, an associate professor of marketing at Harvard Business School detail in their book Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending five things that we can spend our Tax Returns on that will boost our happiness and overall sense of well-being. They are: (1) Buy experiences (what our sons have decided to do); (2) Make it a treat; (3) Buy time; (4) Pay now, consume later; and (5) Invest in others (you can read a summary of their research in Philip Moeller’s article “5 ways money can buy happiness” here)

So, what will you be spending your tax return on?

If you want to live a more happy, flourishing and prosperous life, following the Intentionomics Blueprint of 9 Inescapable Truths for a Prosperous Life will help you take intentional action on what to invest your money into… taking your entire life situation into perspective.

Whatever you decide, like most things in life, you can’t just look to one piece of research in isolation to your personal situation.

My recommendation is, if you haven’t already done so, seek professional help with your personal finances from a professional financial adviser. We have found so much value from our conversations with our financial adviser over the years – value that is well and truly beyond just the value we might have gained from our investments.