Thursday, July 16, 2009

What Do You Spend Your Money On? Things or Experiences?

Money has been very tight in our house lately and we've taken a very close look at where our money is being spent. This has been such a valuable learning experience for our family. I cannot even begin to enumerate all of the lessons we have learned over the last few years.

Earlier this year, I set a goal to spend less money on things and more money on experiences. We fill our lives with too many things - clothes, movies, furniture, cars, jewelry, decorations, toys, electronics etc. And in reality those things do very little to make us happy, and we definitely can't take them with us into our next life. Sure they are fun, but they don't bring us any lasting joy. What does bring us lasting joy, and will forever be a part of us, is experiences and memories with our friends and family.

With this in mind, I'm trying to put my money into those things that really matter. Rather than buying Hunter a bunch of toys that he really doesn't need for his birthday, we put his birthday money from Grandparents and great-Grandparents toward a trip to Disneyland. And let me tell you, those 3 magical days at Disneyland are more valuable than a house full of toys.

This year, when my mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I couldn't think of anything. I honestly hadn't thought about what I wanted at all. That has never happened to me. I did need a new diaper bag, and so she got me a new one (note to all you new mothers out there: do not buy a white diaper bag, even if it is absolutely adorable with it's pink and white polka dot interior and black accents - it will be filthy in one day flat!) What I did want for my birthday was the ability to do fun activities with my family, activities that we really can't afford right now. So, I'm spending my birthday money on arts and crafts supplies for Hunter, trips to water parks and museums for the whole family. The memories from these experiences are worth so much more to me than any thing I could buy.

And, speaking of my birthday, my favorite part of the day didn't require any money at all. Fred had my brother and sister-in-law babysit the kids while we took a walk up Provo Canyon. We walked and talked. We sat on rocks by the river listening to the peaceful flow of water and discussing grand ideas. He picked me a bouquet of wildflowers as we walked back out of the canyon. It was truly magical and it didn't cost a dime. Sometimes the most valuable experiences in life are the simplest ones.

Next time you go to plunk money down on something, ask yourself if it is just a thing, or if it is an experience. If it's just a thing, think about what experience or memory that money could buy instead. Decide which you want more. You may be surprised how many things you realize that would trade in for lifelong memories and experiences.

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