The Truth Behind Spending Money on Experiences and Not Things

When I view myself in the terms of spending, I think I relate immensely to Rebecca Bloomwood from Confessions of a Shopaholic. Someone who means well but overall, has no self-control when it comes to how to manage money in a smart and responsible way.

Overall, I spend nothing or spend everything. I am a hesitant buyer at first but once I purchase one thing, it appears that I can’t be stopped.

A great example of this would be my most recent trip to Chicago. I’m not even going to discuss how much I spent because I think that would be too shocking for people to wrap their heads around. But when it comes to travel especially, I’m the worst at saving since my mindset is usually, “When in ____!”

But when you start saying, “When in Chicago!” “When in Bloomington!” “When in Cincinnati!” you will find yourself with absolutely no money (guilty) and a whole bunch of stuff you realize you don’t really need (also, guilty).

Despite my frequent spending habits, I thought keeping money saved specifically for the trips I wanted to take this year would be a piece of cake.

The truth is?

It was a lot harder than I thought.

You often hear the people who say, “Spend money on experiences, not things.” And I agree with this statement 100%. But though I agree with it, why do I find it so hard to follow through with?

I’d rather spend my money on a hotel room or plane ticket but instead I find myself collapsing in shopping bags at the mall. The promises of material America are all around me and can be unbelievably hard to avoid.

We say we want to save our money for memories but it doesn’t always happen that way and I honestly believe it stems from the environment you have grown up in. Surrounded by people with nice things, of course, I want nice things too. I’ve gone to private school my entire life which means that people tend to have more money that they can spend on extra items, therefore frequent shopping trips with friends was always on the agenda in high school.

Also with the pressure of social media around us, it has become almost crucial to constantly be gaining a new influx of clothes and items. People don’t like to post pictures wearing the same outfit over and over again so it becomes a great excuse to spend more money.

Now, I wouldn’t change my upbringing or environment for the world. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with wanting to shop and buy nice things, but for me, the temptation makes it harder to stay focused on saving money for things that ultimately matter to me more. I have a goal in my mind but it often gets pushed back by current events, rather than thoughts of the future.

I think this need for material items can be related to others on a larger scale as well. The tempting’s of a new house, a new car, new furniture can interrupt the savings you had for that trip to Europe or plane ticket to Vegas. Your environment impacts you more than you think but unfortunately, it’s not that easy to just pack up your bags and remove yourself from the equation. So what do we do?

The best I can say is to remember your ultimate goal and make sure you focus on it. Self-control (my mortal enemy) is key. Because if you want something bad enough, you can make it happen.

I know that if I want to travel and live abroad, I’m going to have to force myself to avoid things that eat up my money. Frequent dinners, concerts, new clothes etc. will have to be a thing of the past.

I had so many trips planned this year that I unfortunately had to put on hold (indefinitely) since I ended up spending all my money on useless things. I honestly hate admitting that because I wish I didn’t get sucked in so easily by new party clothes and multiple orders of late night cookies but it happens.

There are various studies shown that spending money on experiences makes you happier. Experiences are fleeting which therefore makes them more memorable and important to your identity than if you bought a new dress that costs hundreds of dollars.

In today’s society I think we all get a little too caught up with material items that we forget there is a world out there for us to see. I like to think I am fully aware of the wonders of our planet but I’m clearly guilty of letting my material wants get in the way of unforgettable experiences I could be having.

But being aware of the issue is how you improve it. It’s a learning process and one that I am slowly getting a better handle on as I go along. I think the closer I get to my graduation date, the more the realization that I will (have to) be a self-sufficient adult will dawn on me and force me to save accordingly.

Budgeting is crucial and knowing when to spend and when to spend it is important in life, regardless if you’re spending it on experiences like I plan to.

So the ultimate truth for me, is that its harder than it looks to pull your head out of your surroundings and remember the end game. But eventually, I will be an old lady and I don’t want to have years worth of buyers remorse because I couldn’t keep my money away from the mall and in a savings account.

Spending your money on experiences IS most DEFINITELY worth it and in my opinion, should be a priority in everyone’s lives. We all just have to remember that when were considering spending a couple hundred dollars on something we could clearly live without.