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Your Take: Splurge on Experiences or Things?

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Jack Harter Helicopter TourWhen I was younger, I used to collect comic books. These comic books are actually in my basement now (my parents brought them on a recent Thanksgiving visit) and they’re relics from a past era for me. When I was younger, I was big on collecting things. I had baseball cards, comic books, comic cards, Magic The Gathering cards, Hard Rock Cafe shirts, etc. I’m pretty sure I liked the idea of having a set more than actually having the set itself. It’s like the idea of not breaking the streak, there’s something compelling about trying to get a collection and accomplishing it.

Fast forward about fifteen years and I no longer feel that urge to collect. In fact, I feel the opposite. I don’t know when the transformation occurred or why, but rather than accumulate things I prefer to accumulate experiences and adventures. I’d rather go on a cruise with my wife and friends than buy a new set of golf clubs (I’m trying to learn), even though I’d get the same level of enjoyment out of both.

Therein also lies my financial Achilles’ heel. While I do hunt for a deal before I go, I’m often pretty loose with money when I’m on the vacation on things I couldn’t get at home. Just recently in Hawaii, we went to a Wal-Mart and actually compared price per unit on something (probably Macadamia nuts) while scheduling helicopter rides that cost $200+ a person. It’s a bit incongruous but my logic has always been to enjoy it while you’re there, it’s not like we’ll be taking many helicopter rides anyway so we might as well do it while in Kauai. (Incidentally, Jack Harter Helicopter Tours was awesome)

Are you a splurge on experiences type of person or a splurge on things? Or both?

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11 Responses to “Your Take: Splurge on Experiences or Things?”

  1. Sheila says:

    Hehe…I could so relate to your Wal-mart mac nut comparison shopping while planning an expensive tour.

    I’m definitely a splurge on experiences person. Thats where memories are made, in my opinion.

    BTW, Kauai is definitely THE island to splurge on a helicopter ride.

    Happy Aloha Friday!

  2. Glenn Lasher says:

    It really depends on the thing. I do collect some things (records, for instance) but I have always felt that you need to be able to use the thing that you collect in order for it to be worth collecting. Now the problem is that many record collectors have a turntable in their basement that never gets used. Mine is in my home office, and does get used.

    That said, the experience counterpart to record collecting would be going to concerts. My wife likes going to concerts quite a bit, and, letting her lead on this, we have seen Ben Lee (and actually met him on the street before the show, outside the venue, totally by accident), Aerosmith, Kiss, Lenny Kravitz, Slayer, Lamb of God, and others of many genres. Each of these is a different experience, and each is an experience worth having. On one occasion, she spent several hundred dollars apiece on the tickets, and got us front centre floor seats, well worth it.

  3. jim says:

    I saw Aerosmith in concert once and it was an amazing show…

  4. Lance says:

    I prefer (and find more meaningful) that where I splurge on experiences. A couple of years ago my wife and I skydiving. It’s an experience we’ll both remember forever. This summer we are taking our kids on a vacation out in the western US, including 4 days of whitewater rafting. It is expensive, but I think it’s something they’ll all remember for a long time to come. Do I remember the gifts I got for my last birthday, or what I gave our kids for Christmas? No, not very well. And they were things. Now, the kids all like things, because there is instant gratification. But I think the older we get the more we value the experiences in our lives.

  5. Madame X says:

    I lean more towards experiences. The more stuff you have, the more space you need to store it, etc. and it just ends up dragging you down. (The exception being things that might appreciate in value, or at least retain some resale value.) My favorite expensive experience so far was spending about $100 to go swimming with dolphins in New Zealand. I highly recommend it!

  6. Steve Olson says:

    When I was younger I didn’t care about stuff, I lived to experience everything. Today things have changed. I am into things more than ever. I like houses, and businesses and other assets. I buy other stuff because i am usually at home with my kids and I can’t experience as much as I used to, so I buy gadgets and projects to keep myself entertained. But as my kids grow I am sure I will return my focus to experiences.

  7. fred@opc says:

    No question: I like experiences. And I often think its a reaction to my parents’ who are definitely “stuff” people. Their house has something on every foot of every wall – furnitures, hangings, knick-knacks everywhere. They’ve had to have extra shelves installed to hold everything they’ve collected over the years. What’s more: my parents basically don’t travel. They like their house, which they’ve built to be a vacation home filled with stuff. They’ve got a pool in the backyard and are content to live in one place, doing the same things day after day.

    For us, we love experiences… and we’re willing to pay for them. We just got back from the UK. While we were there we had to abandon price sanity – everything costs double, but it was worth it. How often will we get to go to the UK? When I’m old, I’ll fondly remember that experience, and I’ll have totally forgotten how much it cost.

  8. I tend to splurge on both. My vacations are limited to one international and one domestic trip a year, so when I do go, I like to indulge. Pretty bad on the wallet. I also love to purchase high quality items, whether they are kitchen appliances to new leather high heels. It’s gotten to be a lot better as I started to educate myself about finances, savings, investments and retirement. I definitely still enjoy travel/experiences and purchase beautiful things, but I limit it and I try to make sure I have that extra money before I go out and spend it.

    My old philosophy was, “while on vacation, you don’t have to budget.” Now I do.

  9. Definitely experiences. 80% of things are just useless.

  10. Marcie says:

    I can relate. We took the Harter helicopter ride in Kauai on our honeymoon this summer and also penny-pinched at the local grocery store, making almost all of our meals in our condo. Pennywise, pound foolish, is that what they say?

    • Jim says:

      They do say that but I think it depends on what you value, I would value taking a Jack Harter helicopter ride over eating the finest cereal in the land when bran flakes are bran flakes. :)


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