Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Why you should spend your money on experiences, not things

One of my friends shared an article on Facebook today which I’ve read before and always strikes a chord.

Titled ‘Why you should spend your money on experiences, not things’ and written by Dr Travis Bradbury, best-selling author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, the article highlights research that shows spending money on experiences rather than material goods can make you much happier.

One reason for this is that the happiness you feel from buying ‘things’ can fade quickly. That’s because:

  • we get used to new possessions – what once seemed novel and exciting quickly becomes the norm
  • we keep raising the bar – as soon as we get used to a new possession, we look for an even better one
  • the Joneses are always lurking nearby – things, by their nature, foster comparisons, and there’s always someone with a better possession than us.

Spending money on experiences can make us happier because:

  • experiences become a part of our identity – they are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods
  • comparisons matter little – we don’t compare experiences other people have in the same way that we compare things
  • anticipation matters – anticipation of an experience causes excitement and enjoyment, while anticipation of obtaining a possession causes impatience
  • experiences are fleeting, which is a good thing – the very fact they last a short time makes us value them more.

This really resonates with me because it’s how I think about my life, and especially travel.

I’ve been exploring the world since I was 21. Although I’ve always worked hard, it’s been driven more by the desire to afford travel and other amazing experiences at home and abroad, rather than to invest in ‘normal’ things like houses, cars and home renos.

It’s how I’m wired. I never want to look back in regret wishing that I’d ‘done more’.

As the article comments, “things may last longer than experiences, but the memories that linger are what matters most.” I think this is definitely worth reading, especially if you feel guilty about spending money on travel and other experiences that conventional wisdom tells you are frivolous.

They’re clearly not.


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