So why buy experiences over luxury items? Isn’t a fancy car or a big house an experience?
You can argue that buying a fancy car or a big house is also an experience. That you can ‘create experiences’ within that fancy car or mansion. While that’s true, I have found that buying experiences as an ‘activity’ has always been more rewarding. That the material ‘shell’ in which you create the experience usually has very little bearing and comes at a very high price.
When it comes to possessions or experiences, It all boils down to memory, and in essence, life. It’s like that cliche idea of, will you remember your six-thousand dollar Swede-crafted couch when you’re on your deathbed? Of course the answer is usually a profound No. Yet, you will likely remember that trip to Rome where you went to study ancient Roman culture. You’ll also remember the time you went snorkeling in the reefs of the Bahamas. Or that time you met that cool group of people that taught you something entirely new or shared a unique experience with together.
Expanding on your experience is like adding tree-rings to your trunk and years to your life. It’s literally an expansion of your mind and perception of time. Life by definition is about expansion, growth, and learning and we all know that a select luxury item doesn’t cause one to grow or expand.
Choosing experiences over possessions also makes you a more interesting person. Sure, some people might be impressed by your Ferrari or mansion, but that type of adoration usually isn’t very meaningful. Attracting people into your life based on material success often leads to a shallow dynamic that doesn’t benefit you in the long run. However, when you have a plethora of experiences to share with people, it helps you in multiple ways. The first way is that it attracts people into your life that value experiences. They value the fact that you have so much to share with them on a deeper level than wealth. That you can share wisdom, understanding, and connection. In many cases, having an experience focused life will allow you to relate to almost anyone. If they have done it or gone through it, you probably have too.
Let’s not forget that possessions also weigh you down, and in some way end up owning you. Now, I’m not saying you need to live like a spartan and own nothing. I’m also not saying that you have to go to the extremism of minimalism where all your possessions can fit into a single knapsack. In my mind, it’s completely fine to own things that you need. It’s also completely fine to own a few toys. Just remember that every single item you add to your life that doesn’t have a specific need, or is just another toy, the more burden it may add.
For example the Ferrari. When you own a car that costs two-hundred thousand dollars, you have to change certain aspects of your life. You can’t just park it anywhere. You have to take tons of precautions that inconvenience your life. You have to be constantly ‘worried’ about accidents or theft. You have to pay exuberant insurance rates and registration renewals. Whereas if you owned a 2005 Toyota 4-Runner, you wouldn’t have to worry about anything. You can park wherever you want. You’re not particularly worried about theft, and your insurance rates are low, you have no paranoias or worries like you do with the Ferrari. The Ferrari in many ways owns you. It dictates your behavior.
Experiences, on the other hand, are fluid, and beautifully temporary. Once the adventure is over, you reap the reward for the rest of your life, unlike when you lose a possession. Investing in experiences are not only liberating, enjoyable and what life is all about – but they are permanent. So next time you think about buying some new possession or toy, ask yourself, do I need this? What does this really add to my life? Will I remember it later in life? Or can I go without this, and invest that money in a once in a lifetime experience that I will probably never forget. Something that I can share with friends for decades or even the rest of my life. Something that I can remember as I fall asleep and think, ‘Damn, it’s good to be alive.’
Final Note: I also believe that money is a tool and I support the goal of making a lot of it.