It sounds like the right advice: Use all your money to buy actual things that actually exist (and in a pinch could be sold on eBay). In the past 10 years, there's been a lot of discussion about the money-happiness dynamic, and it turns out that while a new couch may make your house better, it might not be the best way to make your life better. Elizabeth Dunn, PhD, University of Virginia, co-author of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending
, has done extensive research on how money can "buy happiness." Her advice? "Seek experiences: Vacations and time with friends provides more happiness than simply buying more clothes or widgets for the house. The money spent is more meaningful and memorable." Your parents may think it sounds impractical, but this isn't just about a bank account—it's about a life. And it's not theirs (anymore), it's yours.