Experiences Trump Things
One of the websites that I subscribe to via RSS using Net News Wire is The Simple Dollar, a daily blog that posts ways to save money or financial advice. I’ve learned a lot from them in the past few years; they are consistently challenging me on my spending habits and giving me things to think about.
Earlier this week they posted an article called Experiences Trump Things – The Evolution of a Hobby. And again, it was a challenging read.
You see, it wasn’t too long ago that I was more of a collector than anything. I would go into thrift stores and buy any board games I could find. I would receive a game, play it once, decide I didn’t like it, but then just add it to the growing mountain that was my collection. I was an avid collector of several types of trading cards, and I used to buy quite a few games, too.
At some point, it all became overwhelming. I had lots of games that sat around unplayed and instead of actually playing them, I would go hunting at thrift stores and other places for some great undiscovered item for my collection.
Why? I had completely lost touch with the reason why I had such a collection to begin with, which was to play with friends.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have hobbies. Unfortunately, all of my hobbies tend to be expensive ones, more of many short term purchases than long term investments. I have boxes of comic books and old magazines sitting around, plus the majority of my family’s DVD collection belongs to me as well, as does at least 4 bookshelves full of novels.
And yet, despite it all, I’ve been giving away and selling off a lot of what I own, yet some days it still doesn’t appear to make a dent. Know that I’m not pursuing that hipster agenda of “no possessions = godliness” or some such nonsense; the goal is not to get rid of all my stuff. The goal is to manage my stuff. I especially appreciate this The Simple Dollar article because it points out one of the biggest reasons I collect stuff: I can share it. In the past year I’ve loaned out numerous books, DVDs, and even had family and friends read through my comic book collection.
I try as hard as I can to collect experiences. If something means something to me, I hold on to it, and frequently revisit it. This Harry Potter marathon has been an example of that, as I’ve only had to go out and purchase one or two of the books to fill gaps in my collection. And it should be noted that both of my brothers as well as my mom has been reading the books as well over the past few years. That is one of the reasons that I don’t mind paying $25 for a hardcover book sometimes; I know that at the very least my mom will probably read it when I loan it to her, and maybe even more than once if she really likes it, so spending $12.50 for two people to read a book for 5-6 hours is actually a pretty good investment.
One of my deepest joys is sharing things with other people. Often that means sharing experiences such as books, films, or video games. (JESUS JUKE – why don’t you just share the gospel with them? Or is Jesus not a deep joy?) I’m the guy who will absolutely remember that you asked about a certain song or book and then will find a copy of that cd or book and give it you free of any expectations except the hope that you will actually listen to that cd or read that book because I hope you be as blessed or touched by it as I was.
All this to say…throttling back on buying stuff is often wise, and not everything needs to be held on to. It’s ok to let go of that VHS collection of Star Trek: The Next Generation episode recorded off of tv.
After all, the DVD sets are pretty cheap nowadays…
Stuff gathers dust. Experiences live forever. Stuff costs money. Experiences just use what you already have.
Experiences trump stuff, every time.