I was combing through the various personal finance blogs that I frequent last night when I came across a post over at The Simple Dollar that got me thinking.
This post was concerning the fact that what we desire is sometimes what drives us and our behavior. The post and the comments that followed got me wondering about the reasons people think they spend their money the way they do, compared to the actual reasons they spend their money.
One of the main things this article brought to my mind is the difference between spending money on items, and spending money on experiences.
Examples of spending money on items:
Small Tropical Island
Examples of spending money on experiences:
The Nascar Racing Experience
Flying to space (Yes, for real… check it out!)
Supreme Overlord of The World
Obviously we can all see the difference between the two columns. The first column contains things you buy that you have something to show for, something tangible that can supply you with instant gratification and use.
The second is things that you look back on years and years from now and think to yourself, “Now THAT was a good time!”
When I was younger, my focus was certainly more on the first column than the second. I just wanted stuff… a new videogame, a flashy car, the latest smart phone, the best laptop. But the older I get, the more I realize that I would rather spend money on the second column.
At first this started manifesting itself in the form of traveling. As I got into reading about the revolutionary era I experienced the urge to travel to the locations where things during that time period happened (a finance and a history buff… double nerd). I have been able to do some of those things like visiting George Washington’s home (it’s called Mount Vernon… they named their houses back then), and the various monuments around the Washington DC area.
The other things are a little out of my price range for the time being (obviously I can go out to eat or catch a movie… becoming the supreme overlord of the world might take a little bit of saving), but I’ll get there.
I began to ponder this shift in my spending priorities (like, an hour ago, when I wrote the first draft), when it occurred to me that it really wouldn’t have been as much fun to travel to the DC area if I hadn’t had family to share it with. I looked at all of the other things I could have spent my money on and came to a conclusion:
I would rather spend money on socializing.
Interaction with other people is really what it came down to. Think about it, none of the activities in the second column would be nearly as fun if you had no one to share them with (okay, so I would still take a trip to space alone, not gonna lie, but you know what I mean…)
I love thinking back to my trip to Mount Vernon and looking over the pictures I took, thinking about all the good time spent with family. I love going out to eat good food with good friends, talking and laughing and just having a good time. I love watching movies with others and being able to pull out movie lines at random times and have people know what I’m talking about.
Why I shifted from the first column to the second I still really can’t say, but over time, as I’ve grown up, the things in the first column just don’t hold that much of an interest for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still buy the occasional video game, and would love a big ‘ol 50-thousand- some-inch LED TV, but it’s nothing like it used to be… and for some reason building connections and sharing experiences with family and friends seems more important to me now than ever before.