Sense & Centsibility Blog

Buy Experiences Instead of Things

Concerts are usually ridiculously expensive so for many years I avoided going because I didn’t want to spend $100-200 for 2-3 hours of entertainment. However, in the last couple years two of my favorite bands of all time came to Minnesota. (It was Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters…yes, I’m a huge 90s grunge fan.) I couldn’t resist. I told myself that as long as I can get a ticket for under $200 that I was going to go because who knows if I’d ever have the chance again. 

While it wasn’t cheap, those two nights were two of the most fun and memorable I’ve ever had…because I absolutely love music, the people I was able to hang out with, and the memories that listening to music brings. So after many years of skipping concerts, I realized the price is worth it to me because I got more out of those experiences than buying things with that money. The other great thing about concerts is that you pay for the tickets so far in advance that when the night of the event comes, you don’t have to spend a lot of money.

Don’t get me wrong, we need to save money for emergencies so that we truly can enjoy the fun stuff. So just keep in mind that you want to have balance when it comes to entertainment and being prepared for life’s unexpected expenses. Try to save for both. Set up automatic deposits to a separate savings account for emergencies and another for goals/fun things. As I said, concert tickets can be really expensive and sometimes you have only a week or two between finding out your favorite singer is coming to town and when the tickets go on sale. So for me, it’s smart to start setting aside a little money on a monthly basis so that I’m ready when it’s time to buy.

Concerts may not be your thing so think about what experiences you’d like to have that you may need to save for. Or better yet, if there are things you can do without spending money then that’s a no-brainer; just go out and do it. If you like the outdoors the cheap part is pretty easy; just think about the nearby places you can walk or drive to for a hike or just to take in the views. I live in Duluth and there is so much beauty right outside my door…I just need to go out and see it. (Proof is in this picture I took...)

The moral of this story is go do what you really love to do with friends and family and instead of buying things because you get more bang for your buck paying for experiences. Most of us get more out of spending time with our loved ones versus buying stuff - that we probably don’t need anyway.

My last tip would be to take a few pictures or videos to help remember your time down the road. But then put your phone or camera away so you can be in and enjoy the moment. Unless you’re a photographer and the picture-taking is what you really enjoy. :)

For more tips about spending less but still having fun throughout the year, check out "10 Cheap Date Night Ideas" and "Seven Cheap or Free Family Fun Ideas."

Author Elaina Johannessen is a Program Director with LSS Financial Counseling.