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BFTP: Buy experiences

Recent analyses of why many shopping malls and department stores are closing their doors conclude, of course, that more people are shopping online. But one story mentioned that younger people are not as materialistic as we boomers, spending more of their income on travel, nice meals, and other "experiences." Glad they took this advice I wrote five years ago.


Johnson's Rule of Savings: The person in the nursing home with the best stories, not the most money, wins.

When asked in a recent workshop to place myself into a group that represented how I felt about money, I was a bit torn. My choices were Saver, Spender, Avoider, and Monk. The first two categories are self-explanatory and the Avoider perhaps should be called the Procrastinator. But the Monk, as I understood it, believes thinking about money is somewhat irrelevant. I was the only person in that group.

I don't much like thinking about money. It's boring. I can't tell you how much my networth is or my annual salary (very accurately anyway). Long ago I set it up so I automatically max out my 403B contributions and I don't see what goes into my state retirement fund. I make my mortgage and no-interest car loan payments every month. I pay the balance of my credit card. I like money for what it will buy, not as a means of keeping score or rating one' success in life. I just want enough money to buy everything I want - and pray my needs and wants remain fairly modest. When I croak, my plan is to neither be a burden nor a jackpot to my family.


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Research (and personal experience) shows that spending on experiences rather than things makes a person happier. I spend money on travel, on books, on technology toys - and on my grandchildren. Increasingly, I try to find ways to purchase experiences (or future experiences) for them as well: vacations, summer camps, swimming pool memberships, college costs, theater performances, etc. As precocious 11-year-old grandson Paul wrote recently: "Thanks for the toys, books, and food, but especially for the quality family time." He gets it.

A question that has been at the back of my mind is "When we buy computers are we buying things or are we buying experiences?" While they are virtual experiences to be sure, the ability to create, to inhabit a virtual world, and to communicate all are more about having an experience than having a device. Pretty good rationalization, huh?

But I'll make dang sure the virtual experiences don't ever replace the physcial ones.

Original post April 28, 2012

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