Why You Should Spend Money on Experiences Not Things

Travel experiences are more important than things. Buying things doesn’t make us happy. Some studies say that people are happier and live longer.  They lead more productive lives if they spend more money on experiences than material possessions.

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Blue-Mosque-Top-11-Places-to-See-in-Istanbul-1024x683 Why You Should Spend Money on Experiences Not Things

Spend Money on Travel Experiences, not Things

I’m not saying don’t buy things. But, how many sneakers, purses, or bottles of wine does one person need? Don’t get me wrong I wear shoes, love Coach bags and I damn sure have more than a few bottles of wine. But in the overall scheme of things, those purchases pale in comparison. I’ve spent much more on travel experiences, photography, and painting classes. And there’s no telling how much I’ve spent laughing with girlfriends over a glass of red, white or rosé.

Travel Experiences

Travel experiences are more important than things. Buying stuff makes us feel a certain way. It feeds our egos and provides us with a false sense of self and/or importance. There is “prestige” in having a big car, a huge house or an imported car, but what about the prestige of spending an afternoon in the Louvre, running the Paris Half Marathon,  exploring the ruins of Angkor Wat or just kicking back under an umbrella on the beach as your kid’s frolic in the surf?

You probably already know the high from buying things doesn’t last long, either. As a matter of fact, if we spend too much, we are often left with buyer’s remorse. Buyers’ remorse is a common occurrence, and a phenomenon is named for it. It is so prevalent that you can sit in on a meeting for it; alcoholism and smoking cessation– it’s addictive.

Three Things My Daddy Taught Me

My daddy, yes my daddy, is a smart man. I got my sense of adventure from him. He has given me countless bits and pieces of advice over the years… some of which I actually asked for. But there is no denying the following three things involve money and happiness over the long run. He said:

1. Pay yourself first.
You are just as important as the gas, light or credit card bills

2. Do what you have to now, so you can do what you want to later.
Spend the money you earn wisely, so one day you aren’t dependent on a paycheck. You work for the rewards of travel experiences later.


3. There are only a few things NO ONE can ever take away from you.
Your credit, your word, and your education. So take care to get and keep all of them in bulk. They will get you further in life than you’ll ever know.

Makes Military Sense

It also makes sense as a military family that has moved every three years or so. Stuff breaks disappear (lost or stolen), doesn’t match with the decor of a new home (modern, drapes are too short or too long, the bed won’t fit into the new bedroom let alone the elevator. And good, a lot of knick-knacks have to be dusted too.

I feel uncomfortable in a minimalist or sparsely furnished home, I still want to be comfortable. However, you’d be surprised how little you need to achieve that and still create a warm and inviting environment. I am tired of lugging dozens of cardboard boxes from state to state or country to country or storage area to storage area. Unlike many of my friends, we park our cars in the garage and not a shit load of boxes. The things I buy have meaning, purpose, and functionality.

There is no Getting Around It

Of course, we have to spend money to live, provide for our families, stay safe, fed, and warm. But after the basics, it is up to us how we spend the rest. We have the choice to make the time we have on earth more fulfilling, more rewarding, and more pleasurable.

Travel experiences are more important than things. Buying stuff makes us feel the way big advertisers think we want to feel based on what they want to sell us. However, our possessions don’t and shouldn’t define our values or morals. Actually, they often run antithetical to them because we tend to buy more as we make more. And as we do, we have to work more to pay for all the stuff that we never have time to use or appreciate.

What kind of life is that?

I want a life where I have more memories than dreams. Don’t you? For more tips, take a look at 30 Ways to ‘Travel’ Without Leaving Home and Turn Your Travel Dreams into Travel Reality in 2016.

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  1. Gale

    So refreshing! Instead of keeping a list of more things to buy – the latest blow dryer, the newest eye shadow – you have pared down to meaningful essentials. Your journey has been an inspiration to me and countless others

  2. Maria Han

    Thanks for this post, I need to spend money wisely even If I want to treat myself but I have so many bills that needs to pay

  3. aziel morte

    I love reading this post, Yes I am important than our other bills, I want to treat myself sometimes but the budget are so tough my hubby doesn’t have a work so I was the only one who’s paying all bills plus the need for our babies and daily budget

    1. duffelbagspouse

      You also have to read the rest. You have to do what you have to today so you can do what you want to tomorrow. We try to find things that have a low cost but a high value and sometimes those things will mean even more. Thanks for sharing with me and I wish you much success in 2017!!!

  4. emma white

    I have never visited but my brother was dating a girl who lived here so he has 3 or maybe 4 times now and he just loved it all his pictures just looked so amazing like out of this world

  5. Wayne Liew

    Hey Stacey, thanks for sharing. I had a similar realization a few years ago. I started prioritizing experiences above things, and I became a minimalist. Life is so much better these days with so little to worry about. It’s funny how the more things you own, the amount of worry and insecurities you feel goes up too.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Omg that is so true. Thats why adide from making ends meet some of the poorest people can still be happy. People with money cant understand or relate. Its also amazing at how little you need, we moved from a 4000 sq ft house in VA to under 2000 in Germany and we thrived.

  6. Ashley

    I like the three things Daddy taught you, now through you, I have learnt. Hmmm I will try to live the military life this year, especially paying myself first.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      My daddy’s influence is long and strong. What’s funny is I didn’t pay attention to them right away, it took a few hard knocks first.

  7. julie porter

    I love this so much, and it is totally in line with how I am wanting to live my life right now. I just don’t need any more “stuff”, but there are so many things that I want to experience now while I still can.

  8. miraspastry

    I am fan of the three things that your Dad taught you especially the 3ed one Yes Anybody can take away from you your education and knowledge
    you can loose everything but not those values, thank you for this great article .

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Thank you. My dad and I are two of the most similar people I know. I got my values, principles, politics, religion and love of history from him. What else is there?? And then to top it all off, I married a guy that is almost exactly like him. lol

  9. Milica

    You are so right! I was talking on the phone with my friend today asking her to join me on a trip. She sad it might be to expensive and few minutes after she start telling me how much she just spent on shoes and clothing. Like 7 times more then she would spend on this trip. I just can’t understand that.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      What did she say after you mentioned the shoes? Don’t give up on her, but know that people spend there time and money the way they want to. There are ways to travel inexpensively. So if they say they want to travel, but don’t they are telling you its not a high priority.

  10. Tins

    My dad always talks about how he is chasing after new experiences which I think is a great way to spend your money. I also believe we shouldn’t be too attached to stuff! I am really not into being materialistic so I like that you value experiences over things.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      It also makes sense as a military family that has moved every three years or so. Stuff breaks, disappears (lost or stolen), doesn’t match with the decor of a new home (modern, drapes are too short or too long, bed won’t fit into the new bedroom let alone the elevator. And good, a lot of knicks knacks have to be dusted too. I don’t feel comfortable in a sparsely furnished home, I still want to be comfortable, but you’d be surprised how little you need to achieve that.

  11. Amber Myers

    I’m with you! I’d rather have an experience than STUFF. However, with kids, it’s hard to go out and experience the world with school and such. Maybe when they’re older and out of the house I can explore more.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      I thought that too, but I have witnessed how creative my friends with little kids are. Its possible. I stated with things like Christmas, foregoing tons of presents under tree in lieu of family trips. he last one we spent all together was to southern Spain for 3 weeks. I thought they would miss presents, but they enjoyed that trip immensely. I think it starts with managing expectations. I didn’t want kids who thought they were entitled to gifts… sometimes I was successful, sometimes they were, well, kids.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      We are pretty much the same way. If we buy each other gifts its not necessarily during a special occasion. But we’ve come to spend our “holidays” traveling or doing something special.

  12. Author Brandi Kennedy

    I love “do what you have to now, so you can do what you want to later.” That’s a great quote, and a great concept to live by. Sometimes it’s the things we didn’t really want to do today that allow us to do exactly what we love tomorrow.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      It says you are not entitled to anything, you still have to work for it. But at some point you have earned whatever you want to do with the rest of your life. That becomes a motto when you are working a 9-5 or doing something you want to quit. It’s my tagline on my email and my advice to friends who feel they are toiling at work, saving money or seeking an education, etc.

  13. Rose

    Your dad had some wise words! I did come to the experience over things last year at Christmas time. I thought what’s the point of all the holiday decorations for one day, wrapping paper you throw away, presents that are played with momentarily or not at all. I wanted to do something different. I think everyone would rather go some where and see someplace and keep those memories and experiences over a toy or new shoes.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Lol, I don’t live in a white box with nothing on the walls or floors, no where to sit or rest my head. I bought curtains in Japan, a rug in Turkey, and a wine barrel from France. I just bought pillow cases from Thailand, etc… that gives me more pleasure than going to Wal-mart (no offense to those who love Wally World). The things I have serve form, function and affinity.

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