On Friday, I went to see Evil Dead: The Musical with some friends. The play obviously isn’t a good match for everyone, but we are all horror movie fans, I’m a Bruce Campbell fan, and all of us had seen and enjoyed at least Army of Darkness. It was a good fit for us.
The play, followed by a late dinner and drinks with people I care about, was easily the most money my wife and I have spent on a night out in years. That’s including an overnight trip for my cousin’s wedding.
Now, several days later, I keep thinking about that night, but not with regret about the price. I keep thinking about the fun I had with my wife and some of our closest friends. We saw a great play that had us in stitches. We had a few hours of good conversation. We had a good time. I would happily do it all over again. In fact, I would happily reorganize our budget to make something similar happen every month.
I don’t remember the last time I spent 3 or 4 days happily thinking about something I bought.
I look around my house at the years of accumulated crap we own and I see a big rock tied around my neck. Even after a major purge this spring, we’ve got more stuff than we can effectively store, let alone use. When something new comes in the house, we spend days discussing whether we really need it or if it should get returned. When we plan a big purchase, we debate it, sometimes for weeks.
Getting stuff is all about stress.
My wife and I are both familiar with the addictive endorphin rush that comes with some forms of shopping. I wish the rational recognition of a shopping addiction was enough to make it go away. Buying stuff makes us feel good for a few minutes, while high-quality experiences make us feel good for days or weeks, and gives us things to talk about for years to come.
It’s really not a fair competition between experiences and stuff. Experiences are the hands-down winner for where we should be spending our money.
Why then, does stuff always seem to come out ahead when it comes to where our money actually goes?