“Spend money on experiences, not things” — what does this mean?

I do not understand the above statement, can someone kindly explain it with a good example.

Also this TED talk:

talks about how companies try to provide experiences. He talks about Starbucks as an example of providing this experience.

How is drinking coffee an experience? Does he try to say a ‘thing’ can provide an ‘experience’, if yes, then above statement is meaningless.

Things are tangible. They are items you can hold in your hand.

Examples of things are clothes, electronics, and golf clubs.

Experiences are not tangible. You EXPERIENCE them. Then, they are gone and only exist in your memory.

Examples of experiences are vacations, concerts, and dates.

Here’s where the gray area comes in:

Often, things and experiences go hand-in-hand, so it’s difficult to think about them separately.

Starbucks is a perfect example.

Coffee, itself, is a thing. You can get coffee at a million places such as Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, the grocery store, etc.

At Starbucks, attached to that thing is a certain feeling you get from being a customer of Starbucks and Starbucks only. These are elements like presentation, service, and atmosphere that aren’t tangible, but contribute to the overall experience of Starbucks.

If you go buy coffee at a gas station, you’d get a similar thing, but a totally different experience than at Starbucks.

When we spend money on the combination of things and experiences, how much we spend often depends more on the quality of the experience than the quality of the thing.

My favorite restaurant in my hometown is a French restaurant called Orsay, where my wife and I go a few times a year, usually for a special occasion or celebration.

I always look forward to it not just because the food is great, but also because the service and atmosphere are also incredible. Orsay isn’t cheap, but I’m happy to spend money there because I get a lot of value from the experience.

When people say “spend money on experiences, not things,” they are encouraging you to make lasting memories instead of accumulating stuff.

This doesn’t necessarily mean go to the nicest coffee shops and stay at the nicest hotels and eat at the nicest restaurants, although it can if you value these experiences.

It’s really about spending your money on the non-tangible things that are important to you. The things that will create lasting memories for you personally.

It could mean donating to a charity to build schools in developing countries or backpacking around Europe or paying a surprise visit to your parents.

Why spend on experiences instead of things?

This article in Forbes states there is research that suggests people who spent money on experiences instead of things are happier for the following reason:

The thrill of purchasing things fades quickly but the joy and memories of experiences, from epic adventures to minute encounters, can last a lifetime.

It makes sense and I’ve found this to be true in my own experiences.

These days, I prefer to spend more money on memorable experiences than material goods. It goes well with the whole theme of minimalism, which I’m really into.

Featured image by Joshua Earle.

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