Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Stuff

Experiences, not stuff. In the year 2017, this is a motto we’ve all heard, and many of us can totally get behind. Between Mastercard commercials advertising “priceless” moments, to the Marie Kondo minimalist movement, to Tiny Houses being all the rage on the HGTV Network, it almost seems as though the theme of the era is clearing out the clutter to make room for memories. In fact, the recent Unbox the World initiative from Flights.com was inspired by studies that discovered new experiences make people happier than buying things.

For the past several years, my husband and I have gone the route of treating each other with “experience” gifts for occasions such as birthdays, holidays, and job promotions, rather than anything tangible. Living in NYC, this is pretty simple to do. We’ve shared experiences ranging from the simple (wine and cheese pairing classes, trapezing on a rooftop of a NYC building, interactive walking tours), to the more luxurious (a tasting menu meal at Daniel, a helicopter flying class, Broadway musicals). While neither of us rave at dinner parties about the latest material gifts we’ve given each other (him: bed pillows, and her: a sweater. Exciting, right?), we definitely have recounted the time we took a tour of Chinatown together and discovered our very favorite tea house, which we still go to, eight years later!

Besides creating memories that last a lifetime, a few other reasons I think everyone should be collecting memories, not clutter, are:

While your NYC apartment can only hold so much, your storage space for memories is endless.

Sure, the sweater on sale on the rack may just be perfect for your office’s holiday party, but after that, how many times are you actually going to use it? Is seeing it shoved into your already overstuffed closet really going to spark joy? Probably not. However, setting a date with a few of your favorite friends to grab hot chocolate and check out the holiday lights in the Brooklyn neighborhood Dyker Heights is probably a memory you’ll look fondly on for years to come!

While stuff is rarely free, memories really can be.

Unless you just happen upon a couch left out on a NYC curb and can somehow convince someone to help you drag it to the top of your 5th floor walkup (at no charge!), there’s rarely such a thing as free stuff. Memories, however, don’t have to cost a cent, even in a city as notoriously expensive as New York. Case in point: this past weekend my family and I decided to wander to Astoria, Queens, to check out the Socrates Sculpture Park, which is always 100% free and open to the public. However, the fun we had running through the open fields, marveling at the giant art works, and taking selfies was truly priceless. (The pics in this post are from that day!;-)

You have to take regular time out of your life to care for your objects, and memories are one and done!

Think about the nicest gift you’ve ever been given. Now, think about all the time and care you’ve had to spend to uphold that item. Whether it’s a pair of expensive heels (that have had to be stored, polished, and resoled), or an engagement ring (that has had to be insured every year, taken for regular cleanings, and stored in a safe on your vacations), it’s safe to say that even the nicest gifts require regular work on your part. Not to mention the constant cleaning and clutter maintenance having more stuff adds to your apartment! Experiences, however, only require a bit of planning on the front end (which is actually part of the experience itself!), and then the enjoyment of it! And you’ll walk away with memories to last a lifetime.

For more information about Unbox the World, head on over here!

Would love to hear your thoughts on experiences vs. stuff! Let’s talk below!


  • Joanne Theodorou says:

    Name and locale of your favorite tea house please!!

    • Used York City says:

      Oh it’s Nom Wah Tea Parlor–but full disclosure, it’s not a “high tea” serving spot with clotted cream and scones–more a hole in the wall that serves excellent dim sum and a delicious variety of Asian style teas…it’s like stepping back into a piece of old New York! So much fun!

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