Spend Money on Experiences, Not Things!
My Old Perspective:
I specifically remember being a kid and thinking that if I had $100 and could either buy an experience or a thing – I would opt for the thing, because I could enjoy it more than once. The experience, I reasoned, may be enjoyable- but that would be fleeting. The thing I could touch and hold – and even sell, if need be, something I could never do with an experience.
Change of Thinking & Perspective
But as I matured, my thinking flipped completely. That thing, whatever it was, would never become part of me, and would probably be obsolete within a couple of years. Who I was, and am, is the sum total of my experiences. My experiences shape my perceptions and influence my judgement. My experiences became more important to me, and my priorities in spending reflected that fact.
I have been very fortunate to have had numerous opportunities to travel to many interesting places on this planet. Likewise, I have been able to spend many years as a professional student (some say way too many!). And with those travels and and opportunities to pursue various academic degrees I have had many experiences that have allowed me to learn about myself, the places I have visited and others. Experiences that have permitted me to interact with people I may otherwise never come into contact. Experiences that impacted the way I look at the world and my role as a father. They are part and parcel of me and can never be taken away from me. I remember them, use and rely on them way more than any thing or item I have ever bought.
Goals as a Parent
One of my goals as a parent is to help the children learn NOT focus on things. It is a lesson that took me awhile to learn, & one I hope I can help the kids learn at an earlier age. Experiences are much more important in developing who they are as people, how they look at the world, others, and indeed life. So it is better to invest in themselves (education) and having positive experiences than focusing on material things….
Allocating Money to Shared Experiences
With that said- we are beginning to place more emphasis on family vacations and saving up for our annual adventure as opposed to saving for large items. We hope this sends a strong message to the children with regards to our priorities. We have also encouraged them to contribute to our Family Fun Jar. I’ve discussed this in a little more detail in my Dollar Drop post. When the kids are grown, they will probably not remember many of the material gifts we give them over the years, but I expect they will always remember the experiences and adventures that helped shape them and their world and self views. My sincere hope is that many of those experiences are fun and happy adventures we shared together as a family.
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