Buying Experiences Not Things

Steve’s _IMG_4540I stopped buying things last year, choosing to focus on buying experiences instead.  Although it’s been a fantastic success I’ve been slightly conflicted because some of my best experiences depend on buying the things that enable them.  For example some of my most cherished experiences this year involved listening to audiobooks while on solitary walks.  Some of those walks were in the rain and so depended on good outdoor gear.  I love cycling, but for that I need a bike.  I’ve managed to cope without buying these things so far this year because I already have a huge audio book library, great outdoor gear and two bikes.  Last year I concluded that I already had all the things that I needed, so stopping buying anything new made sense for a while. It also made for a more interesting experiment.

This not buying anything experiment won’t continue for ever though, so I need to refine my attitude to buying before it gets too constraining.  I’m happy buying things that truly enrich my experience of life.  Buying more clothes than I need won’t count, nor will buying expensive watches, or a fancy car, but I’ve decided that there are some things I will be happy to buy, for example:

  1. healthy food and drink, including meals out
  2. experiences, like movies, concerts, holidays
  3. new or improved things that eliminate significant frustrations from my life, for example a new iPhone 6 to replace the frustratingly slow 4S with its half day battery, or a new bed to improve the quality of my sleep
  4. essentials that I can’t do without, for example consumables like new shampoo, fuel for the car
  5. replacement things that I loose or break, provided those things are essential and/or enrich my life, for example replacing a broken iPad that I use for two hours every day
  6. things that enable experiences I want to continue or undertake or do more of, for example hiking safety gear that allows me to do winter hikes, a fitbit to encourage me to walk more
  7. things that are themselves experiences when used, like books or DVDs
  8. things to repair other things, like paint for the garage, or grout for the bathroom tiles
  9. plants for the garden

I’m not planning to go crazy though, having bought almost no new things for 250 days, I’ve realised that I need very little stuff to be happy, but I also don’t want to constrain my happiness by not buying things that enrich my life. 

I’ve also found great satisfaction in having saved a lot of cash this year and having broken the spending habit I’ve no compulsion to spend it, it just sits there ‘comforting me’ because I know I have enough money to replace anything or buy anything should I really need to.

The photo is of Filey cliffs on what turned out to be a rainy day, without good waterproofs I would have stayed inside but instead I got to enjoy a wonderful, relaxing hike, listening to one of my all time favourite books

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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