Michal Bernolak
Should I Pay Off My School Debt Or Should I

You don’t have a spending problem. Spend your dough a little differently instead.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

veryone wants to be good with their money, yet we buy stuff we don’t need all the time. We make ourselves believe we need something on amazon. We see something useless on sale at Walmart and convince ourselves to buy it.

I used to do it all the time. I would see something on sale and work out a way to make it fit into my life. Giant Tupperware set on sale at Target? I have plenty at home, but you never know, maybe I’ll need more one day.

It’s only twenty bucks. Suddenly I’m driving home, trying to check traffic in my rearview mirror, but a neatly wrapped set of plastic containers are obstructing my view. Why the hell did I buy that?

I made a simple change after hearing published author and writer Jeff Gordinier say something on a podcast that stuck with me.

“I don’t care how much a meal costs. It actually doesn’t matter to me at all. What matters to me is if it’s worth it.”

I realized I was spending too much money on material things, and not enough on experiences.

It’s the trap we all get caught up in. We never seem to have enough cash to go on a vacation with our friends or get out for a boujee meal with our significant other.

The problem is that we never expect to have a spontaneous experience, hence why we never set aside money for it. I had to drill it into my head. The novelty of material things wears off in the blink of an eye. Experiences, on the other hand, last forever and can have a changing impact on your life.

I always catch myself thinking back to my vacation in Thailand, or the weekend at the cottage with my best friends. I never think about how much it cost me because no matter what the price was, it was worth it.

We’ve heard it a thousand times. “Ask yourself if you need it and then decide if you should buy it,” Easier said than done, am I right? You don’t have to live that way.

Yes, ask yourself the same question, but instead of hanging your head and responsibly putting that money into a “need” account, put it into an “experience” account instead. That’s it.

You don’t have to feel responsible and restrained at the same time. You can feel responsible and feel like the money you save is going to a better cause. Instead of spending fifteen bucks on a new t-shirt you don’t need, set it aside for a future experience with friends or family.

When you get an invite to go to the cottage, or visit your friends in the city for a weekend, ball out. Make it a great experience. Get guac with your burrito. Order your friend’s a round of drinks.

The memories you make from those times with friends will mean more to you than a t-shirt from Urban Planet ever will. It just takes a change in thinking and a bit of practice. It’s so worth it.

Every time you want to buy a material thing, instead of asking yourself “want or need?” ask yourself “experience or need?” If you choose experience, feel good about it. Crack a smile and put that money into a savings account labeled experience.

It’s worked so well for me that now I dedicate a portion of my income to the experience account. After having more experiences and better ones, I am addicted. I like not worrying about how much gas it takes to get there, or what the flight will cost. I am ready for it.

Treat every experience like a mini vacation. The money you saved on those unneeded flip-flops is now paying for your lunch in the city with your friends. Splurge. That’s what it’s there for.

Take pictures and videos, document a little more than you usually do. Make it last. Capture lasting impressions of your experiences, and think about how good it felt not to worry about money.

I love how cringe-worthy yet true the phrase “you only live once” has become. I love it. I live my life by it. People aim it at the wrong things all the time, though.

“New sweater! You only live once!” or “let’s upgrade my car! You only live once!” This is the wrong approach. Things like cars and clothes don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Experiences do.

The more you have, and the more positive ones you create, the happier you will become. Nobody likes to worry about money, especially when you want to go on vacation. It’s okay to want things, just aim your wants at experiences instead, and you’ll be much happier in the long run.

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