Is Spending On Experience Overrated?

Is Spending On Experience Overrated?

Whew! I finished our taxes and sent them in on time. Unfortunately, we owed the government over $3,000 because I didn’t pay enough estimated taxes. I also contributed $5,000 to my i401k for 2021. That reduced our tax liability a bit. Unfortunately, these big payments reduced our cash savings to an uncomfortable level. I usually try to keep around 2-3x our monthly expenses in our bank accounts. Also, we plan to travel a lot this summer so we need to save up for that too. We’ll have to watch our spending over the next few months.

What about you? Did you have to pay the IRS or did you get a refund? Many taxpayers get a refund and it’s nice. They can use the extra money to buy a few nice things or splurge on fun experiences. Lately, I hear that spending on experience is a better value than spending on things. Is that really true?

*Originally written in 2016. Updated 2022.

Spend On Experience

Happiness researchers have shown that spending money on experiences gives you more happiness than spending on material possessions. Things don’t make you happy or unhappy in the long term because we adapt to them. New things are great for a while then they lose their luster. It’s hard to impress humans for long, according to research…

On the other hand, we anticipate experiences much more than things. In 2015, we went to Costa Rica for a vacation and I was looking forward to it for a long time. I spent a lot of time figuring out how to get the cheapest tickets. (We signed up for a credit card and accumulated enough points for free tickets!) I did a lot of research on Costa Rica and planned our itinerary. We had a great time on the trip and we’ll go back someday.

Costa Rica was fun, but we could have used the money differently. We could have spent the money on a new entertainment system instead. I could replace our aging 480p TV with a big screen 1080p HDTV. Also, it’d be great to get rid of our cheap Walmart TV stand and get a much nicer entertainment center. While we’re at it, I’d get a Blu-ray player to improve our movie viewing experience and an Xbox. 🙂 The problem is that these things will get old. In a few years, I’d be lusting after the latest and greatest gadgets.

Studies found that when people look back at their purchases, they realize that experiences actually provide longer-lasting value. We appreciate old experiences much more than old material possessions.

*Update – I got a new TV when we moved into our duplex three years ago. The TV is awesome and I still love it. We also got an Xbox One. It plays Blu-ray discs so it serves two purposes. I enjoyed playing games on it when I first got it, but I haven’t played much lately. RB40Jr uses it every day, though. We still have our old Walmart TV stand. Spending on stuff isn’t bad as long as you get your money’s worth. We use our TV frequently so it was a good buy.

Experiences Fade Too

The Costa Rica trip was a lot of fun. However, it was recent and I remember a lot of it. My memory is terrible and the recollection of this trip will fade in a few years. In 2009, we went to Japan and it was an awesome trip. I remember the food was great and we enjoyed the hot springs. We also appreciated the historical castles and temples. I don’t remember much else, though. It’s a good thing we took a lot of photographs. I’ve been to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, China, Thailand, Belize, Jamaica, and many other countries. They were all great, but the memory of those trips are all fading.

Personally, I don’t think back on previous trips often. Is experience really a better buy if you don’t think about it much? I focus on the present and the future; I rarely look back. I don’t think magical moments and memories grow in value over time because I’m so forgetful. That’s just me, though. Mrs. RB40 has a much better memory than I do. She remembers things from her kindergarten days. That’s amazing! She still recalls details from our trips to Hawaii, Jamaica, and Belize. Purchasing experiences is the right model for her.

Memory may fade

Spending on experience is great, but spending on nice things is okay too. For me, both categories lose their luster over time. However, past experiences form who you are. If you don’t spend on experience, you won’t grow as a person. The memory of my trips may have faded, but they are all a part of who I am today. I’d be a different person if I didn’t travel to all those interesting places. On the other hand, things are just temporary. Once they get old, you’ll want something newer and nicer. My HDTV is nice now, but in 5 years, there would be a much nicer model. Anyway, I choose to prioritize experiences over things. Fortunately, we are comfortable financially now and we can have a bit of both.

Do you choose experience over material things when it comes to spending money? 

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

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60 thoughts on “Is Spending On Experience Overrated?”

  1. My memories also fade fast! I treasure and value both. I adore travel. I also prioritise enjoying my daily life, which often includes spending on ‘things’ along with food.

    Reply
  2. I also had to pay taxes. I haven’t had a refund in a very long time! I love spending money on experiences and find that the memories don’t fade for me. I often talk about trips with my family or remember places that I’ve been when I’m reminded of food that I ate, a tour that I took, or a person that I met while traveling. Don’t get me wrong, I also love a good TV and entertainment center at home but I will always prioritize experiences over purchases.

    Reply
  3. Love this post. I also have the same problem memories fade and things lose value (emotionally and monetary) very easily. However, I have an issue with having things without thinking do i really need it? The planet can’t hold more things, everything that we buy have impact in the planet. We really need to think about that, not just because i can i’ll do it.
    I have found Travel experiences that i remember the most is when i really connect with People when I create new relationships when I hear/learn /appreciate /understand about the new place. Laughing, sharing, enjoying with people different than us give us a new and unforgettable experience.

    Reply
  4. Your television thoughts hit me just right — in 2019 we bought a 50″ screen specifically because the USWNT was about to win the World Cup, and we wanted to have a better EXPERIENCE watching it happen. 😉 My wife and I enjoy live sports but it can get ridiculous; I specifically remember attending a below-freezing Ravens game in December 1997 and $four-figure travel plans to see basketball tournaments in March. $299 for the largest screen that fits our living room is a steal by comparison, even taking a decent cable package into account… and sitting on a comfortable sofa is a bonus.

    Reply
  5. I built a PC from scratch myself. I enjoyed the research, I enjoyed building it, and I enjoy using it (almost) every day. I still remember the excitement as the parts arrived and the elation when it actually worked! I saved money but could have saved more by carrying on using the old one, but (a) why continue with an increasingly inefficient ‘tool’, and (b) my business paid for it anyway.

    Hopefully this counts as officially having my cake and eating it!

    Reply
  6. Interesting posts and comments, Joe. I would have to say I fall into the “middle of the road” category. Some experiences can be worth the money, others not so much. I do not enjoy traveling which I would guess a lot of people might find strange. We traveled quite a bit when I was growing up (dad worked for an airline) and I HATED it because we had to travel stand-by. Imagine being about 7 years old and sitting at the airport in Los Angeles for eight hours before finally being able to get on a plane. Hubby and I do a lot of things locally, especially seeing plays, concerts, sporting events, museums. Birthday time I splurge and get a massage (well worth the money in my opinion!). I guess it depends on your values and your priorities.
    I also agree that there are purchases I have made that over time the initial feeling of happiness has faded somewhat but I certainly feel appreciation. Our house for example. So glad we made that purchase. My very dependable (knock on wood) Saturn that is over ten years old and still looks good and runs fine. I very much agree with the other posters who mentioned well-made, high quality (and possibly expensive) products that I get a lot of use out of such clothes, cell phone, computer, kitchen items. I would say over-all for me it is a question of balance. Being debt-free, having savings; these bring peace of mind, which is invaluable.

    Reply
  7. You nail it when you say that experiences form who you are.the memories might fade, but the change they make stays.
    That is why I prefer an experience over a material item. I went lately for a swim in a subtropical pool for his birthday. I prefer this over just a gift. The gift would be cheaper and easier, but my kids and godchild still talk about it. Worth the money I would say.

    Reply
  8. There is no right or wrong answer on whether spending on experiences versus material things, or choosing to save almost everything are overrated. It’s up to the individual. Most studies tend to state that spending money to take fun trips, socializing and building relationships with people at parties and dining out together aren’t overrated.

    One thing no one can buy is time, so one mental exercise anyone can do is to project themselves into when they’re in their 70s and 80s and decide whether they’ll likely regret or be content with the inextricably linked financial and lifestyle choices they’re making presently for the next several decades. Habits are very powerful to break, so if someone is constantly depriving their desires just to hoard cash, they’ll likely continue this behavior indefinitely.

    Reply
    • That’s a great mental exercise. I should try it. I think I will be content with how we lived in our 40s. We’ll see, though. You’re right about habit. I don’t know if I can ever splurge that much…

      Reply
  9. A lot of material things I buy just provides basic functionality and satisfaction. However, every so often, I buy something that I regular use and comment how it was one of the best purchases ever. The material item makes a day to day activity that much more of a fun experience.

    Experiences can be tricky. At their best, they transform you, a little or a lot, as person and expand your knowledge. But you can also pay for an experience that you end up sleepwalk through. The problem is that you don’t know if it will be the former or the latter until you actually experience it.

    Reply
    • I usually go for basic functionality. I don’t know if I have anything that could qualify as one of the best purchase ever. I probably just don’t care that much. Let me think about it.

      Reply
      • Joe,
        I have to say that when it comes to something that is to function in the house my husband always wants the best. I want something that will work for a long time. Again, we have to balance and agree. We check consumer reports, returns, complaints, etc. We go about two levels down from the best. After 30 years, we still have the same fridge…refuses to break!
        After 20+ years we just replaced the drier. I drive a Toyota Celica GTS 2001 and its a beauty, not a single problem…just the normal replacement such as tires, oil, etc. With certain technology I would say it is just so difficult to keep up with…like computers, phones, cameras…I think the fridge, I am just gonna have to kill it myself. Oh! on watches, I went solar this year, I spent $300+ in 3 watches: gold, silver and black band. They work awesome and no more batteries!

        Reply
  10. Can you share which credit card you used to gather enough points for free tickets? I am looking for a credit card that will accumulate points for airfare!

    Reply
      • Hmmm , I think I want to know more about what everybody is using for free miles, hotels, yada, yada. I have never done that. I used the Costco American Express. I get a percentage back on everything that I buy…I even buy the milk and eggs with it. We get at least $800.00 at the end of the year. Starting March American Express and Costco will not be partners anymore, I wonder what credit card company will take over. Does anybody know what the option will be?

        Reply
  11. Experiences for me trump material possessions. But one can also overspend on experiences such as meals or travel. I believe it is a balance that one must figure out based on their finances. Just because we may get an unexpected windfall does not mean we mindlessly spend it. We should remain aware of our actual life goals.

    Reply
    • Jason,
      I agree, balance is the key. I am not a diamond person but I love shoes! Eating out with moderation. For example, we eat often out but we visit the same places because my husband doesn’t eat meat and I do. He has a sensitive system and I don’t. We had to find a balance to accommodate us both…I figured out that restaurants make their money in the drinks. Just keep track of your bills not ordering drinks and drink water instead. In order to eat out often we excluded the drinks and we were able to have the fancy vegies for my husband and I could have my meats. We did this often and it was a tremendous savings. We live in L.A. and we eat often at a restaurant called “Portos”. We don’t drink sodas and the smoothies/natural juices were like $9 for two. We are not fast food restaurant eaters either. no alcohol . no smokers. We sort of “out of place” with most of our friends…so we found a balance, while they drink we dance!!! We eat out and go out with moderation, a big savings is overall in the drinks! After all, who will have good memories being drunk?

      Reply
  12. I read all the comments and enjoyed it very much ! Why you should read mine? Because I have been happily married for 31 years. Debt free? yes! Because I believe that if it is not in your pocket don’t buy it?
    I believe there is a balance for all in life. We must not go to the extreme to enjoy life, we can buy and also travel. There is no law! There are things that we do or buy that gives inner and outer pleasure, they are both ok. I think that the bottom line is that we are all individuals and what gives some pleasure may not give others pleasure. What is great is to share experiences, to accept and respect each other. I just had a blast reading all your comments!
    There are also the reasons why we do what we do, some might be just crazy and here are a few of mine (married for 30 years, yeah…same guy):
    1. We never bought a “nice” living room set! Reason #1: first we had the children one after the other one, adorable but terrorized the furniture. Reason #2: We got a cat and promise to buy a set after the cat passed to a better life (no, we never wished for the cat to die…that beauty is still alive, she is 18 years old!). Then, we got the dog. Still with cheap furniture.
    2. We did a wild trip to Brazil to see the world cup without reservations, plans, yada, yada.
    Reason #1: People kept saying it was impossible and I like challenges. Reason #2: It was my husband’s dream and he also thought it was impossible (he knows I like challenges and used reverse psychology…ha ha) Yes, we saw 4 games! In addition went to Machu Pichu.
    3. I hate traveling on RVs/owning RVs. Reason #1: I feel jammed, phobia, missing things. Reason #2: not a good investment that will be parked most of the year, when needed rent it.
    4. I have difficulty throwing things away. Reason #1: I was born in a country where individuals fix everything that brakes, TV, shoes, furniture, etc. Reason #2: Sentimental value.
    5. We don’t celebrate our birthdays/ anniversaries/valentine with gifts or dinners: Reason#1: We have been going out for dinner every Friday and we end our evening with a movie ever since we got married. We did it with our kids and now we go alone. With all the rush of sport events, school,etc…it was a good thing to sit together to eat as a family. Reason #2: After 30 years we still feel that each other is the best gift we have and everyday is a day to celebrate! We do give gifts to our kids and celebrate their bdays…I think they have to make their own decisions on what is important and what makes them happy!
    6. One more and the last one: I don’t attend funerals. Reason #1: I do not enjoy the ritual and the protocol. Reason #2: Give to the person while is still alive, why flowers when they are dead? I still remember the day my husband brought me 100 roses! no reason…just love.
    We do have to live to the fullest with moderation, responsibility and learn from others. My mom, who is 89, has alzhymers and she lives “today”, yesterday doesn’t exist and tomorrow will never come. She still wears make up and high heels! What motivates her? I don’t know…
    Happy New Year and Thank You all For Sharing!

    Reply
  13. I personally think that all of these are beneficial to us. For our own growth. Learning by experience from traveling, getting abreast by advanced technology, and investing for security. But it is substantial to remember that we could also be of help to others. An utmost achievement as such may fade in our memory but to other people, the effect would be “unforgettable”… no article was written that encouraged people to give extra. To organize charity events like feeding programs, visiting the sick and /or donating to jomes for the aged. It’s sad.

    Reply
  14. Hi joe, I choose experiences any day over material possessions. Of course, I also forget the experience overtime too. What I found super helpful is making it more memorable with a video, you don’t need it fancy or stuck to the lense. A simple app like ‘one sec a day’ would make the trip easy to record and unforgettable.

    Reply
  15. Depends on what kind of experience you “purchase” I suppose. If it’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime experience, then it’s worth it. A good way is maybe split up the windfall. Maybe 1/3 goes to spending on experience and 2/3 on saving? That’s a nice balance I think.

    Reply
    • Splitting is a good way to go. I agree with the once-in-a-lifetime experience. You will remember those. Bungy jumping was pretty good. I think it was memorable because I only did it once. If I kept doing it, all the jumps would blur together. Something to think about…

      Reply
  16. I think money is well spend on experiences and stuff. But it’s stuff that brings you experiences that seem to get the most bang for the buck. Spending $500 for a nice TV (ok, maybe $650 – just saw a sweet 4k UHD 55″ Samsung TV at that price in Walmart!) and $10/month on a netflix subscription is probably a better way to maximize your entertainment dollars than buying a new $500 watch or purchasing a luxury car (with $500+/mo payments). At least it would be for me.

    And I would prefer the $500 tv over spending $500 on a weekend trip for me and the Mrs. since the trip, while fun, would be short lived whereas the TV is the gift that keeps giving throughout the year.

    I would put outdoor gear or sporting equipment in the same category of “stuff that provides experiences”. A few hundred for a bike or kayak would give me much better value than a few hundred bucks to buy 2 linear feet of granite countertops (for example). One is useful and brings me a lot of joy and value. The other just sits there looking pretty. 🙂

    So yeah, stuff is okay but the stuff that provides experiences is best.

    Reply
    • I’d probably prefer the $500 TV too. 🙂
      I have been wanting a kayak for a while, but we don’t have any space for it. We’ll rent next year and then see. Not sure if I agree about the counter top. A nice counter helps you cook. We spend a ton of time in the kitchen and probably should spend money there.

      Reply
  17. This is a tough question to answer. We are currently living in our RV and traveling North America. We put a lot of money towards the RV which is both a material thing and an experience, which I love! 🙂

    Reply
  18. I think you and I suffer from a similar problem: we are more frugal than we need to be, out of habit. As a result, we don’t spend as much as we can or should to maximize our happiness. I’m not saying you aren’t happy, I’m saying that there’s probably a little bit of adjusting where you could become even more happy.

    When you’re making money online while traveling or not being in the office, that’s the best IMO! Otherwise, what’s the difference between a day job?

    Reply
    • I think you’re right. We’re still pretty tight because we’re working on Mrs. RB40’s retirement. Once that’s done, then we’ll evaluate our life again. Spending a bit more probably could increase our happiness.

      Reply
    • Smart move. Travel and build upon your experiences. Have your money work harder than you–real estate, equities, online business, and passive income can fund your nest egg while you enjoy life. One extreme view is from travel bloggers; they all have sustainable income while they are doing something they enjoy. I do wonder if any of them actually save for retirement however…

      Reply
  19. I have found material things can be really cheap or free if you know where to look. I do not value jewelry so that’s good for my wallet.
    Excellent, quality made clothing and household goods can be found at surprisingly low prices if you look (think $1.00 for clothing at thrift or holiday decor).
    When your house is full of all the things you need and want, what then? Keep buying? Nope. I’m not into waste. However, for me, experiences are the gem of life. I had really no vacations as a child but made it a priority for my child. Even if she did not remember one of them, she still benefits. She benefits from seeing the world outside her neighborhood. People look differently, dress differently, talk differently, eat differently, and so on. Experiences give you fresh new eyes to the world around you. It teaches acceptance and tolerance. It helps you dream bigger. I personally would rather explore our planet then sit at home and admire my jewels, my knick knacks that are collecting dust, or the like. I know so many that have never flown, never dipped their toes into the ocean, never rode on a subway, never tried sushi, and so on. I find many of them to be narrowed minded, intolerant, racist, and boring. Sure not everyone would be like that but in my experience it is spot on. Growing up, observing their lives, I wanted something different. Travel and exploration has been my answer.

    Reply
    • Right. Our place is pretty small and it’s already full. We don’t want to buy anymore stuff. From now on, it’s replacement only. Hopefully, with quality stuff. Exploration is a lot of fun.

      Reply
  20. Traveling is a lot of fun. But I do agree memories tend to fade. I’m still trying to strike a balance between material things and experiences and savings. It’s always a balance right? I want a new couch, and I finally found the one. I have enough money saved up to pay it in full with credit card rewards but I feel guilty about spending so much money on a material item.

    Reply
  21. It seems to me that for any physical entity, the distinction between a ‘thing’ and an ‘experience’ is whether that entity gets used after acquisition. What we call ‘things’ occupy storage space in closets, and during the occasional cleanup you see it and wonder “what were we thinking when we bought THAT?”. For example, even though a house is a physical entity, most people would not consider buying one to be a bad spending decision — after all it’s not a ‘thing’, it’s an ‘ownership experience’. By this reasoning anything that is heavily used long after purchase transforms from ‘thing’ to ‘experience’. A great example is all of the ‘useless electronic gizmos’ that we are accused of buying and dumping. Actually most of us spent quite a bit of time on those gadgets before we upgraded so they are woven into our life experiences, whether we remember or not. It’s this cycle of rapid advancement and adjustment that makes modern work/life balance situations such as yours and mine possible!

    Similarly I think the economic utility of experiences gets overrated by survivorship bias. Unlike the useless things you buy that you have to look at and regret periodically because you never throw expensive stuff away, unhappy experiences automatically fade from our memory so in hindsight they effectively never happened, even though the money spent is gone. Plus while you can borrow against ‘things’ that have market value such as homes and cars in good condition, good luck trying to mortgage your Grand Tour of Europe (unless you’re Rick Steves).

    Reply
  22. Sometimes things can create experiences. Having nice bed sheets and covers reminds me of sleeping in a hotel and makes going to sleep at night quite enjoyable. Or the nice camera we bought before going to NZ which helps us remember the trip and future trips after it. Or the kitchen gadgets that we use to cook delicious food. Saving also gives you a sense of financial security which is quite nice too.

    Reply
    • I think you’re right. I tend to leave my nice camera behind, though. It’s too bulky to lug around. 🙂
      I need to overcome my cheapness so I can buy nicer things that will last.

      Reply
  23. I’m all about spending on experience! Having too many toys while you’re stuck as home doesn’t sound as nice as going on adventures with the family. I do think that saving for financial security is more important than saving for a vacation. I wouldn’t want to go on vacation if I didn’t have some financial cushion. I went to New Orleans with my family while I’m currently laid off because we are good about keeping a healthy savings. If you budget properly and have a decent income you should be able to do both. 🙂

    Reply
  24. I think the key is balance. Personally, I think experiences are good for the soul – whether it is travelling, or going to a concert. I don’t see it so much as how ‘memorable’ it is…as I think with anything, they fade over time. But the memory of it being a good, worthwhile experienced doesn’t. But day to day materialistic needs can be important too. At 27 I feel like I’m finding a new appreciation for this balance – I don’t want excessive material things. I want to value the things we get more (so we think about them more before purchasing too). But as we are also tackling debt, and trying to set up ourselves for smarter savings…I am also looking toward experiences that seem to be reasonable in our budget. When it comes to travel, it would be pushing it for us to plan a big trip. So instead, we’ve been planning out smaller, localized trips that can be worked out on a budget. Places that are within 2-3 hours. As we’d like to visit more and more places, all these places being new are exciting for us. And I think over time, as our budget allows we will be able to explore places that are further and perhaps more luxurious, indulgent. All too often, people only think about the big ticket trips as options and forget that there are a variety of options in the middle.

    But I do agree, as I am getting older. Financial independence and stability is so much more important. As I plan for us to receive our tax refund and work bonuses – I certainly am much happier pushing most of it toward long term stability and independence. It will provide us much better peace of mind both short and long term – and also during any trips that we will be able to truly afford. ?

    Reply
    • We love exploring locally too. There are so many places nearby that we haven’t been to yet. We usually take one big trip per year and a bunch of local trips.
      We need to balance experience, things, and saving better. We’ve been focusing more on saving and probably need to loosen up as we get older. Good luck in 2016!

      Reply
  25. I look at it a little differently as a mom of 4 girls under the age of 8.

    I have a terrible memory also, so I don’t remember the trip to Disney in 1975 with my family. But it evokes happiness when I think about it – and when I took my parents with our family last fall.
    I don’t remember camping with my family in Tennessee while attending the World’s Fair, but I remember being together, the road trip, and really having fun.
    I don’t remember the 2 summer trips I took with a singing group to China, Japan, Mexico and Costa Rica when I was 11 and 12 years old. But the experience of traveling abroad at such a young age impacted my life, to such a degree, that I minored in German and did an 5 month internship in Stuttgart while getting my BSEE. I think it really is a part of who I am now.

    I personally love experiences and MUCH prefer them to material things. But MORE importantly as a parent, I want my girls to see the world, hear different languages, have their own experiences to remember (or forget 🙂 ) and maybe develop new passions as a result.
    So I would go with 50% savings (hello, college for 4 girls?!?!) and 50% travel and experiences.

    Reply
    • This is so true. I think it’s important to also remember that the value of these experiences will change over time, and that’s okay. I also look back to remember more so that the trip/experience was wonderful and enjoyed, even if I no longer remember the exact details.
      And some of those trips meant a lot because at the time they were more valued or appropriate — that may not translate anymore and that’s okay too.
      It’s all about balance to me and knowing what you can truly afford. It doesn’t have to break the bank.

      Reply
    • That’s why I want to take our kid traveling too. We are the sum of our experiences. Even if we don’t remember the whole thing, we still grew from those trips. 50% saving is a good policy. 4 girls! 🙂

      Reply
  26. Over the last five years my mother(89) has moved from her own home to a retirement home and now to a nursing home. Each time she moves her living space is smaller and in the nursing home there is minimal room for personal possessions. This has taught me that at the end of the day we are left basically with the memories that we gathered over the course of our lifetimes and this is what my mother thinks about sitting in her room. She never talks about things, it always about remember when. I plan on stocking up on a lot of memories.

    Reply
      • Oh yeah, you’ll be thankful for less stuff accumulated by anyone for whom you will handle estate proceedings and other end-of-life arrangements. You know that old expression, you can’t take it with you.

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  27. From: sciencedaily.com
    Living happily in a material world: Material purchases can bring happiness
    A recent study shows material purchases provide more frequent happiness
    Date:
    December 21, 2015
    Source:
    Society for Personality and Social Psychology
    Summary:
    Researchers have shown that material purchases, from sweaters to skateboards, provide more frequent happiness over time, whereas experiential purchases, like a trip to the zoo, provide more intense happiness on individual occasions.
    Maria – on my first day of retirement!!! Jan. 4, 2016

    Reply
    • Thanks! I will check it out. I guess there is a study to support every viewpoint.
      Welcome to the rest of your life! Happy retirement!

      Reply
  28. I would take the money and split it, 50% cash fund, 50% vacation fund. Then I’d feel better all around knowing I had a cash reserve when those surprise expenses pop up. And have fun planning another cool trip somewhere. I still remember awesome moments of trips taken 10, 20, 30 years ago. Material things just have to be cleaned, maintained, repaired, insured, stored, worried about. They own you instead of you owning them! I’ll take experiences over that every time!
    On the other side of the coin, people spend ridiculous amounts on weddings when they could have bought a decent house with that money. I honestly do not remember one moment of any wedding I have attended or been in. What does that tell you!

    Reply
    • Don’t even mention weddings. I think it’s ridiculous the length people go through. They are spending too much in one day and 50% of marriage don’t even work out.
      I don’t care much about material things, but maybe I should get nicer things. The things we have are not that great so they don’t really add much to our lives. Someday, we’ll have nice things that can last. 🙂

      Reply
      • Yep, emotional times like weddings and funerals often cause overspending. Why else does Kevin O’Leary own a piece of the wedding industrial complex?

        Reply
  29. We don’t really care about fancy clothing, jewelry or anything like this. But traveling has really opened our eyes and we’re planning on taking our kid with us as well. As I grew up my folks were too poor to travel and to be honest this is something I regret, not having the chance to such experiences. So we’re planning to travel at least for 6 weeks this year (if not more).

    Reply
    • We were poor when I was young too, but we still did some traveling. Mostly to national and state parks. Our kid is so lucky to be able to see so many places while he’s still young. Have fun traveling this year. Where are you going? 6 weeks is a long time.

      Reply
  30. I’m learning now that experience is the only thing that you really need to spend money on. My wife and I are constantly finding ways to travel, even if for just a long weekend because we know that we will remember those trips and they will bring enjoyment to our lives. We went to New York a few years ago and can’t stop talking about that trip. We took no trip really in 2015 but have 4 trips planned for 2016 all because we have come to learn we enjoy traveling and experiences much much more than having things.

    Reply
    • Have fun in 2016! 4 trips is a lot of traveling. We like traveling too. We usually do one big trip per year and a bunch of little trips. My memory is really bad, though. Take a lot of pictures. 🙂

      Reply
  31. I absolutely agree and have pointed this out a time or two. Experiences may be valued more than old things in general but in our lives, between me with a bad memory and PiC with his fastidious maintenance habits, we value them equally.

    New pants that are high quality will be more valuable to me than that concert we could go to next month.

    A super lightweight bag that carries all my things and doesn’t weigh me down vastly improves my day to day life more than a fancy dinner of equal cost.

    But sneaking away to watch Star Wars will be more fun than buying myself a new pen.

    And we have nice dinners to celebrate our anniversary and birthdays. I cook a special meal for PiC’s birthday and we don’t give each other presents for any of these occasions because we value the tradition of having a nice meal together more.

    I won’t remember all of them, he will because he plans all of them, but I will always remember that in our entire relationship, he has voluntarily and perfectly planned every single birthday and anniversary. I sometimes forget our anniversary but he’ll have a reservation made a month in advance. Now that’s something!

    And now with our new (well not brand new…!) baby, we strike the same balance. It’s much more important that we spend time together when we can than to have every toy and gadget available. We spend on quality daycare because ze is highly social and we need that time to work, and that ability to buy time is something we value as highly as having a full bookshelf of books to read to hir.

    Reply
    • That’s a great way to think about it. I want to stop buying cheap stuff and aim for things that last. It a hard habit to break, though.
      Wow, what a great guy. He’s on the ball. I’m terrible at planning for special occasions.
      Buying time is good too.
      Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

      Reply
  32. Hi Joe – I’m with you on the “experiences fade too”. Can’t we also hedonically adapt to those experiences? I think so.

    Take an example from my own life – eating out. I eat out probably 10 times a year. Not terribly frequently. I can only remember 3 or 4 of those instances when we went out to eat in 2015. How about 2014? I can probably remember 1 or 2 of them. So experiences definitely fade, even when the experience is relatively infrequent. A good camera is definitely important!

    Investments, if made properly can last a lifetime. 😉

    Reply
    • I think you’re right about the hedonistic adaptation. If you travel too often, then it won’t be as exciting anymore. That’s why I don’t think “traveling” is a good goal for retirement.
      I remember a few great dining experience from last year, but you’re right. The majority of them were forgettable.

      Reply

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