Rethink: Experiences vs. Possessions – Lazy Man and Money


This is a shorter article today. Cox Communications had an internet outage yesterday, so I’m playing catch-up on a few things.

Conventional wisdom in the personal finance world is that experiences make you happier than possessions. There’s a lot of research behind that too. For example:

It makes a lot of sense too. You may have heard that the possessions you own end up owning you. Sometimes it can feel like life is managing possessions.

The other day something happened that made me rethink experiences vs. possessions. My son said, “Dad, can we take the convertible today?” The convertible is my old car before we had kids. It was more practical before we had to put in rear-facing car seats in the back. Now the kids are old enough to ride in the back. It’s just a little inconvenient to use because I don’t carry the keys and usually keep another car parked behind it. It’s not a big deal, but when you are rushing out the door racing to get the kids to camp, they add up.

Once on the road, I found myself smiling on the trip to the kids’ camp. You can argue that this was due to the experience, but I’d argue that it was the possession that made the experience possible. The possession doesn’t always have to be super expensive. My 2001 Mustang was worth around $4,000 before the pandemic, but with used cars being worth more, it may cost you $6,000 to get one today. I suppose that’s not super cheap, but it has saved our bacon a few times when another car broke down.

It didn’t hurt that it was a terrific day out and the view of the beach and ocean is great in Newport, Rhode Island. You could argue that was the experience #2. However, once again I’d say that the possession of our home allows for the view. It wasn’t just the view though. A few days before I had my first surfing lesson.

Lastly, later on in the night, I was able to relax in an inflatable hot tub watching Netflix on my Amazon Fire HD 10. This was more of a direct use of possessions than an experience, but once again the possessions added up to a very good experience.

All of this has me rethinking the relationship between possessions and experiences. What about you? Leave me a comment below.

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