Life can seem really expensive — all the items we “need” add up. I needed that new smartphone, and I spent too much on a dress I wore once. I needed the coolest toaster oven even though I just make frozen pizzas. I need a new car, a big house and lots of things to fill it.
All these may seem like worthwhile purchases, but they don’t necessarily help anyone live better. Being wise with expenses means having priorities and spending smartly while making sacrifices. Everyone has different desires and means, but living to the fullest without breaking the bank is all about choices. Here are five reasons to choose experiences over stuff.
1. Experiences Last Longer
Memories don’t go out of style as quickly as a trendy top or up-to-date gadget. The competition to buy luxury goods can be expensive and pointless. Having the best phone won’t get you to a better day any quicker than the old model will. Pictures and “remember whens” are priceless and timeless, no matter how short the experience actually was. Take getting engaged — the story of how it happened is likely to be more cherished than the ring.
2. Experiences Are Unique
Anyone can have the same commodity as you, but no one can have the same experience as you — even if they were in the same place at the same time. There is something inherently special about something that is all your own.
3. Relationships Bring Happiness
Nothing brings the happiness that friendships, loves and family provides. You can spend money on a new outfit for a fancy night out. But what you actually bought won’t be as memorable as the subjects you discussed, the laughs you shared, and the memories you made during the night. Spend less on what you’re buying and more attention to the people.
4. Experiences Are Often Free (or Cheap)
Take advantage of everything life, nature and people have to offer. I think some experiences are worth the money, like seeing a show or live music, but even these genres have cheap or free options worth exploring. The experience is about what you take out of it, so no matter how much you spend on it, the potential for fulfillment is the same.
For example, I wanted to see an opera while in Vienna. I wanted to experience it but instead of paying for a front row seat, I bought a standing room only ticket for 2 Euro. I could hear the music and appreciate the beautiful architecture of the opera house just the same.
5. Experiences lead to positive emotions
Scientists have proved that major consumption does not correlate to happiness. Making purchases toward leisure activities are the only payments that have a direct relationship to joy. Sports, vacations and entertainment are great ways to defeat loneliness, build new relationships and harvest experiences. A new headboard can’t do that.
We have all heard that money isn’t the key to happiness — but we need to remember that commodities don’t necessarily bring satisfaction or fulfillment. Money can provide a lot of great experiences — but you can also make the most of every situation and actively try to do more with your time to make you feel better.
Next time you feel tempted to shop online or buy a new gadget, try going for a walk, contacting an old friend or meeting someone new. Those are the things with real value.