Sunday, September 8, 2013

Invest in Experiences

Where has all my money gone?

I'm sure most of you have felt this way at one point or another in your life. Being low on cash can be frustrating, scary and stressful, not to mention a total buzzkill to your social life. I always automatically put money into my savings--to use for a rainy day. Usually, my extra cash goes to utility bills, paying off credit cards and grocery shopping, and anything left over is used for anything else I might need or want (clothes, dinner/drinks with the girls, manicures/pedicures, etc). Lately, however, I've been putting my money towards something else: experiences.

And while many of the other categories can force pause or lead to some sense of regret or buyers remorse, I never think twice about investing in an experience, especially if it involves travel. How could I possibly regret taking the opportunity to better myself, to enrich my life, to learn something new and to go somewhere I've never been before. For that, I'm willing to sacrifice a night out at the bar, or brunch with the girls one weekend, or not going out to lunch and making it at home every day (but I've always done that, regardless of funds being tight). I figure those are things I can do any time.

The next experience will be a quick drive up to Lake Geneva to see my roommate compete in a triathlon. Ok, I know it might not be the most exciting thing to do with my Saturday morning. But, I've never been to Lake Geneva, and it is incredibly entertaining and inspiring to watch these elite athletes achieve their goal. Not to mention, it's a good bonding experience. My roommate and two other friends will have a nice evening at the hotel, a fun morning at the race and a pleasant brunch afterwards. It will be like a mini girls getaway.

In October, Chicago Ideas Week is being held at various locations downtown. This event includes workshops, labs, discussions and lectures, all from innovative and influential people sharing their thoughts, ideas, advice and insight. The talks are only $15, so my boyfriend and I decided to take advantage and see at least three. We both really like these kinds of things--we listen to Ted Talks, Ted Radio Hour and Freakonomics Radio all the time--so why not see it in person? I'm super excited to hear what these people have to say, gain more information and find some inspiration. Definitely worth a few bucks.

From there, I take a weekend to Washington, D.C., to see my friend Hannah and spend time with a few other good friends. While I've been to the nation's capital before, I was 13 years old at the time, and most of that trip was spent taking student tours of the monuments, museums and other tourist attractions. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against doing some touristy activities, but I'd also like to see areas of the city I never had the chance to experience before. Also, I can't turn down the opportunity to be around people I love and care about, because that just fulfills my life even more.

Plenty of people criticize these choices--for whatever reason--telling me to make smart financial choices, to save more than I spend. But in my opinion, I am being smart. I'm not wasting my money on an expensive outfit I'll only wear once, or some fancy electronics I don't need, I'm not blowing cash at restaurant or a casino. I'm making purchases--or more appropriately investments--that contribute to my growth as an individual. These experiences are more beneficial to me than a bunch of material items.

There's a saying I have hanging in my room that says, "How you spend your time is more important than how you spend your money. Money mistakes can be corrected but time is gone forever."

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