Ep. 39: Stuff vs. Experiences

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the latest and greatest. We are surrounded by ads. If we look at something on Google, inevitably it shows up in our social media feeds. Technology always has a new fancy gadget with some new improved something. We are surrounded by the opportunity to purchase.

So then the question comes into play of when is it too much? When am I buying things for the sake of buying them and are these things actually adding value to my life or am I purchasing them because it’s convenient?

This week on The Gutsy Podcast, we’re going to break down the difference between purchasing stuff vs. experiences and knowing when it’s okay to purchase things and when it becomes a little bit too much.

enjoying nice things

I want to start this conversation off by saying that you are not a bad person if you value nice things, if you purchase things to enhance your life, or just appreciate the finer things. You’re also not a bad person if minimalization is your thing and you would rather just travel the world all the time.

Like almost every single topic we talk about on The Gutsy Podcast — to each their own. And I want you to take away from this what resonates the highest with you. But I challenge you to see things from a different perspective because sometimes stuff, quote-unquote nice things, can be perceived as, Oh, that clearly means you’re materialistic.

And in the same respect, if you’re never home and you’re traveling the world constantly, that can be perceived as your distant. So everyone has their own way of doing things. And I encourage you to not judge people by the things, places, and purchases they choose in their life. Because most of the time it’s what brings them joy.

buying experiences vs. having experiences

So first and foremost, I am all about a really great experience. And when I talk about investing in experiences, I’m talking about being in the moment, going places, doing things, and actually physically and mentally interacting with yourself and other people to gain memories.

For instance, let’s say you really just want to show your family how much you love and care about them. It could be easy to say, you know what, let me buy them some gifts. Or, you could go on a family vacation. That’s what I’m talking about. Buying experiences. Because stuff — physical, tangible things — honestly only lasts so long.

What if instead of stuff and things on a more regular basis, we’ consider having physical time together. This could be, yes, a vacation where you’re going for a week or two at a time and you’re all going together. But it could also be something as simple as a day out or even a couple of hours going to the museum, the park, visiting a new town, trying a new restaurant.

There are always a ton of seasonal things as well. Like right now we are in full-fledged Fall season, which I feel like is the season of festivals. Amazing memories are made at pumpkin patches, hay rides, stuffing scarecrows, face painting, and bobbing for apples. There are just so many amazing things to do together.

why experiences matter

Experiences create memories and memories are what our lives are built on. It’s somewhat easy to buy stuff, right? Like two clicks of a button and Amazon can have something on our doorstep in two days. So if you’re running behind on planning for an upcoming birthday or anniversary and Shit, I haven’t gone to the store yet. Let me just figure something out and throw it together real quick. Yeah, raising my hand over here, guilty as charged.

It happens to the best of us and those things serve a really great purpose. But what we want to be conscious of is not allowing that to become the go to. The this is how we do things. The always running around at the last hour.

Think about your spouse, for instance. In most cases, this is one of your greatest supporters, someone you spend a lot of time with, someone you’ve built a lifetime of memories with. What is the next time your anniversary rolls around? You get away for the weekend. There are so many distractions at home and you can have the greatest intentions, but between work, phones, kids, the house, projects, and, oh, let me do this real quick, or let me run that errand real quick.

Love between spouses is one of the most important relationships for you to nurture, so invest in an experience with that person. Go away for the day, for a couple of hours, for the weekend if you can, and just really get back to the root of why you started all of this to begin with.

If you and your team have been busting ass for weeks or months at work, pause and celebrate with them. Maybe it’s taking them out to the newest lunch spot in town or going putt-putt golfing, or just taking some time to be together without the crunch and pressure of having to work.

In humans, happiness increases when people spend time together doing something they enjoy. And the beautiful thing is, while that is an investment with your money, it’s something that’s going to last a lifetime.

purchasing stuff to prove worth

Now, I want to switch over to actually purchasing stuff — tangible, physical things — because I think there is some negative behavior associated with it. But I feel like there’s also some healthy behavior as well.

All right, let’s start with the bad news. So there are four primary behaviors I’d like to go over that are associated with I’m buying stuff for a negative reason. Sometimes this might be associated with a verbiage called retail-therapy. And you know, we’re all entitled to those moments where hey it is what it is and it’s done. What we don’t want to do though is get into a habit.

So one of the very first signs of knowing your shopping is associated with something negative is having the latest or greatest or the best to impress people. I am here to tell you this is a never-ending battle that will leave you feeling empty every single time. Because you know what, if you’re always going to be chasing whatever’s coming out next — both your heart and your wallet are going to feel empty.

Sometimes things — physical, tangible things — are associated with, hey, if I have these things then I’m doing well and if I want to impress the people around me or fit in with them I have to have them. The next thing to look out for is when you’re purchasing things, are you purchasing them to prove your worth?

For instance, do you feel like you have to have that designer clothing outfit to feel like you can get an appointment or a meeting with someone? Are you spending a shit ton of money going to the highest end salon in your town? Whether you can afford it or not simply because that’s where all the other people go and you feel like to prove yourself, you also have to go there? Are you driving a car you cannot afford but it keeps people thinking and knowing you’re successful?

If you are purchasing anything on other people’s behalf to get their approval, that’s a sure fine sign to say it’s time to stop and really start evaluating the way I am purchasing. And better yet, that’s an opportunity for you to dig deeper and ask yourself, why am I looking for their validation to begin with? What am I lacking in my life that I need some assistance with? How else can I fulfill myself, my family, and my goals?

emotional purchasing

Next, if you’re bored or upset and you’re buying things to make you feel better, I want you to stop and get out. Emotional purchasing is one of the most detrimental ways to spend your money so rapidly that you don’t even know what happened.

If you are awake at midnight and literally searching the internet for something to buy — something you don’t necessarily need but you’re thinking I’ll just feel better if I purchase something — I want you to pause every single time that comes up.

Now, if you’re on at midnight because you can’t sleep and you’re like, this will be a good time to add my groceries to my cart because I might as well be productive — then that’s a whole different thing. But literally if you are searching for something to fill your life with, whether you actually need that product or not, this is another sign you are trying to purchase something to fill another need.

What’s keeping you up in the first place? Where’s your stress coming from? What’s going on in your relationships? What conversations do you need to have?

There’s such a heightened response in our brains. When we purchase something it’s like winning, right? For a couple of seconds we get this burst of endorphins that say, oh my gosh, you’ve done it. I’m so happy. I’m excited. Then by the time you get home with it, or by the time it comes in the mail, it’s kind of old news. It may seem easier to deal with your thoughts and emotions through purchases. I know that dealing with stuff is hard. Facing things and people is hard. But living a lifetime with unresolved issues is way harder in the long run.

buying just to buy

I also want you to keep an eye out if you are buying things just for the sake of buying them. Just because you can does not mean that you should. We literally have just about every product on the planet available at our fingertips on a 24-hour clock. If it doesn’t serve some type of purpose in your life and you’re just buying it because you’ve got a good deal or you thought it was cool, you’re going to end up with a giant yard sale one day or a giant bag of things to take to Goodwill for donations.

Worse yet, you’re going to end up with a house full of shit. Yeah, I’m just going to get really real right there. If you are purchasing things on impulse just for the hell of it and you have closets and rooms and basements and storage bins and all kinds of rooms full of stuff — you are purchasing things to fill your life with something. But in return, you’re way more overwhelmed. You’re way more stressed out. You always have this tab running in the back of your head saying, Hey, I should clean out that room. Hey, I should go through that bin. Hey, I should clean out the basement. Because you filled your life with all of the stuff. But now the very stuff that once gave you pleasure is now driving you insane.

Things can have a really negative effect on our lives. Clutter causes anxiety. An over abundance of stuff can actually cause depression and constant purchasing can really take a toll on your financial health, your personal health, and your relationship health.

the flip side to purchasing stuff

Now, since there’s always two sides to every coin, like I mentioned in the earlier part of this episode, I can appreciate nice things and I’m all about investing in things that help to make my life more efficient and a lot more simplistic. So I don’t want you to beat yourself up if going out shopping or purchasing something or investing in your home or decorating or you have a hobby. If there’s something that brings you a tremendous amount of joy and it doesn’t have a negative effect on your life in some capacity, then there are definitely ways that purchasing things can be really healthy.

For instance, if you are purchasing something that helps you to be more productive (maybe this is the latest iPhone, the newest tablet or Ipad, the newest jean cut — I don’t know), if there are aspects to this purchase that are going to help you to be more efficient, more productive, and take stress off of your life then by all means, purchase the damn gadget.

Now, keeping in mind, does this fall within your budget? Does it align with your goals? I mean, it’s not just like, Oh, this will make me better, let’s buy it. But if you’ve done your research, you’ve evaluated your budget, and you’re like, yeah, this actually makes a whole lot of sense, then don’t feel bad for purchasing something.

People get bashed all the time for saying, Oh, you have the latest, Oh you had to go get this. Oh, you had to go get that. Well, you know what? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and everyone is living their own life. You also don’t owe an explanation. If this is something that’s truly going to improve your life in some capacity and you can afford it, then buy it. If you are evaluating a purchase and it’s going to help you feel more organized, put together, or boost your confidence — this is another healthy evaluation of making a purchase.

The important thing I want to point out here is that it’s for you. You are feeling more put together for yourself and are feeling more confident in your own skin. So whether it’s a new piece of furniture that allows you to organize things all neat and tidy or it’s a new pair of jeans that fit just right or a new pair of shoes that just really help you feel amazing — organization and confidence are two things that can help to actually expedite and enhance your life and your goals.


If you’re considering making a purchase, ask yourself if it adds value to your life. I want to infuse in here again that we are always trying to be budget-conscious, right? So just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Just because you have the money doesn’t mean you have to go out and purchase something. But if you’re finding, your budget allows and know this particular product or service will add value to your — then go for it. Investment in you.

And if people want to knock you for making purchases that better your life, hey, that’s on them. So if you’ve got something that adds value to your life: 1. you don’t need to explain it to anybody and 2. enjoy it because I’m going to guess you have worked your ass off to be able to do that.

And lastly, if you’re making a purchase and it just makes you happy and you just want to buy it, I think sometimes that’s okay. In my own personal opinion, I don’t know that every single purchase needs to be justified every single time. If your bills are paid and your budget is situated, there’s food on the table, there are clothes on your family’s back, you’re moving forward in life, then but the thing. You work really hard for your money and you have every right to infuse your life with things that improve your health, happiness, efficiency, and experiences that add value, longevity, and memories to your life.

What serves one person or family may not be the same as someone else, but that does not make either one right or wrong. I want you to just be mindful of the way you’re spending, what you’re investing your money in, and, ultimately, how it’s going to affect your life.

Thank You, Gutsy Tribe!

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