The Battle Between Experiences Vs. Things

We hear a lot about different money styles. Some of the more common personal finance dichotomies that we are used to reading about include:

  • Spending vs. Saving
  • Denial vs. Indulging
  • Impulse Buying vs. Planning Purchases

While all of these financial styles illustrate different characteristics about how we spend our money, I always thought it interesting that few people address spending styles in terms of what we like to spend money on. We talk a lot about whether we should or shouldn’t spend, but not much about the type of spending.

This oversight occurred to me a few years ago when my husband told me that it was a “waste” to spend money on short trips to a neighboring state, at which point I fired back that I thought it was a “waste” to buy a television that we didn’t need—especially when our current TV worked just fine and was certainly adequate.

experiences versus thingsPurchasing Things vs. Experiences

Our conversation led to a realization that my husband and I have different spending styles. He likes things. He likes to have a fish tank, or buy a Blu-ray instead of a regular DVD. I like experiences.

I would rather see someplace I haven’t seen before, or go someplace nice to eat. If we had $1,500 that we could just blow on whatever we wanted, my husband would purchase some large piece of artwork for our already-filled walls. I would plan a trip to the Oregon coast.

Of course, neither answer is the “right” answer. Finances, like so much in life, are personal. And there are few things as personal as the way we spend money and what we spend it on. Also figured into our money calculations are much we are willing to go into debt and what things are worth buying on credit. In college, I thought nothing of whipping out the credit card for a spring break trip to California. I would never have bought a nice, new stereo like my husband did with his credit card.

In the end, it’s about compromise.

I realize that my interest in traveling, whether it is enjoying a day at the spa or getting away for the weekend, can be rather pricey. In order to compromise, we save up for trips, so that it doesn’t take as big a hit out of our monthly budget.

My husband also realizes that I feel hemmed in and cluttered when we have a house full of stuff. He also recognizes that we don’t use a lot of the products that he has insisted we purchase. As a result, we are reducing the number of things we buy, and spending more consciously.

We also find different ways to satisfy our…

read more…