Splurges, Habits, and Projection

I recently wrote about the “connection” between quality of life and consumer spending, concluding that it’s financially healthy to derive a sense of quality of life from things that aren’t consumer purchases. The post generated a lot of discussion (well over a hundred comments), with many readers seeing both sides of the coin – that it’s great to derive joy from non-consumer sources, but that one shouldn’t be fraught with guilt from making a consumer choice.

I strongly agree with this sentiment, actually. When I do make a consumer purchase, particularly over the last year, I very rarely feel guilty about it in any way. Almost always, the purchase is a net positive, and I walk away glad that I spent the money.

Recently, for example, I went ahead and purchased a portable GPS unit for my wife and I to use. We had been using a GPS program on her cell phone, but the service had a small monthly fee (which we didn’t like at all), a tiny screen, and some serious functionality issues. After our most recent road trip in which we used the GPS phone functionality successfully twice (saving us some money and a potential diaper clean-up in a new car) and failing once (resulting in our son almost wetting himself as we searched for a bathroom while I cursed the awful interface), we decided that we should just cancel her GPS service and get a dedicated unit. I did the research, found a perfect one that fit our needs, tried it out at a local electronics store, and picked it up at a great price. We’re very happy with the purchase.

A few years ago, I would purchase some sort of electronics item or media every week, often in multiples. These purchases would give me a quick blip of joy, but in the end, the items would wind up in a big pile along with a lot of other items that I didn’t have adequate time to enjoy. The net result of this was an empty bank account and a decisive lack of happiness – in fact, I wound up selling most of those items used in order to pay down the debt without having enjoyed them much at all.

Another example: as I’m writing this, I’m sitting in a coffee shop. About two mornings a month, I take my laptop to a local coffee shop that I adore, pick up a tasty morning treat and a cup of coffee, and sit here in this pleasant environment writing for a few hours. I enjoy it. It feels like a real perk to me and I leave feeling as though my time and money were well spent.

Several years ago, I made a daily stop at a coffee shop for breakfast. I’d sit in there each and every morning, drop $7 on a breakfast sandwich, a cup of coffee, and a paper, and read it without much real joy. It was my routine. It wasn’t joyful – it was just the way I started my day.

With the GPS unit and the irregular coffee shop visits, I get a lot of joy out of the situation. I can see that the expense fulfills me in some way. Since I do it so irregularly, it not only seems special, it retains that positive feeling over time, lifting me up. The irregularity is also a benefit in that it doesn’t add up to an expensive routine – I keep money in my pocket.

Back in the day, with the regular electronics and media purchases and the daily coffee shop visits, I would be spending a lot of money in a way that wasn’t special or particularly enjoyable at all. The coffee shop visits and media purchases were part of the routine of my life – a routine that, when I stepped back and actually thought about what I was doing, wasn’t in line with what I really wanted from my life at all. Even worse, the routine was expensive – it drained a large, regular amount from my checking account every month, like clockwork.

A splurge is healthy every once in a while. It’s an irregular expense – not one that you spend money on every day or even every week. It also fills you with joy when you do it – and you still feel happy about it a day later. In short, you derive quality of life from that purchase.

A habit is never healthy. When an experience (particularly one tied to spending) becomes routine and normal, it should either fulfill a basic need in a simple way or it should be reconsidered. If it doesn’t add genuine value to your life – or if there’s a cheaper option that could add the same value – then you shouldn’t be spending your hard-earned money on it.

The difficulty for many people is that splurges become habits without the person realizing it. Their happy memories of when the coffee shop was a splurge keeps them defending the habit that it has become.

I was very guilty of this. I remember how I used to think about buying new electronics and media purchases. I would think back to the huge treat that it was when I would save up enough money to buy a video game when I was young – and the many hours of happiness I would have playing through it and defeating the game. The memory of that good feeling was often enough to get me to the checkout lane with a new game or a new gadget, without me realizing that I wasn’t actually getting joy from the purchase itself, but from the memory.

I experienced a similar phenomenon with the coffee shop. I’d stop there, step in the door, and the smell of the beans would take me back to some wonderful evenings with college friends in coffee shops. I’d buy the coffee, a sandwich, and a paper, and sit down with them, still coasting on that initial burst of good feelings brought on by the smell. Yet, when I finished up, all I was left with was a memory, one that I could easily trigger myself by smelling coffee beans in a completely different environment. My belly would be filled just as easily with a banana and a cup of tea at work – and that wouldn’t cost anything at all. I was paying $7 a day essentially for the privilege to smell the smells and savor a memory for a bit.

Change came when I realized that I was paying money for my own memories, not for a new joyful experience. My spending habits really revolved around recreating memories and events that I had enjoyed in the past. I wasn’t paying for something I enjoyed in the moment – I was paying to extend the moment. In the end, though, that left both my wallet and my heart empty. The real happiness comes from within – and it doesn’t cost anything.

Take some time and really look at the things you spend money on regularly. Are these things really bringing you happiness – or are they tired routines centered around something you can’t really recapture? You might be shocked to realize how many of your spending choices are really dictated not by your true wants and needs, but by the wants and needs you’ve projected onto those purchases.

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  1. Anna says:

    With little sons on car trips, frantic bathroom searches can be avoided by a simple device: a tall glass jar with a screw top. We used to call it a “tinkle bottle.”

    Mother of sons ;-)

  2. Maureen says:

    Writing in a coffee shop certainly worked out well for J K Rowling!

  3. Anna says:

    Paying for memories — what an astute observation. The other day I passed up a chance to go to a book-signing and hear a well-known author speak. When I first heard she would be in our area, I was all eager to go. Then I realized that although her books meant everything to me 20 years ago, they are much less important to me now, and I was doing nothing more than expecting to recreate that long-ago warm enthusiasm. Gained: a little more self-knowledge. Saved: time, gas, and the price of a book I really didn’t want all that much.

  4. Battra92 says:

    You had me just nodding until you got to the part about paying money for memories. That hit home.

    I know that I do that at times going to eat pizza alone for lunch remembering how my friends and I used to eat at the same chain back when I was in college. I miss those days and where I am now in life I’m not really in the position of making the same kinds of new memories. I just have to savor my evenings and weekends I guess.

    By the way, what GPS did you get? I’m in the market for one right now since I’m sick of getting lost.

  5. leslie says:

    I also realized that once I stopped doing my splurges and habits, I didn’t really miss them.

  6. Studenomics says:

    Nothing beats writing on the laptop in a coffee shop but it definitely comes with a price. One common experience that is very costly for young people is the feeling that they need to drink beers with friends to have fun. There are so many ways to have fun that don’t include spending a ton of money on drinks.

  7. Nick says:

    Great points Trent. A GPS is a great purchase. It allows you to concentrate on the road instead of reading a google maps printout. It also allows you to explore and go places you never would before. They are quite affordable and a good one will last you many years. Just remember, DO NOT LEAVE IT IN YOUR CAR! Left mine in the open and it got stolen. Lesson learned.

    I have done some similar things with my routine. Little things I used to do often I now make a special occasion. Its all about getting back to basics and enjoying the simple things. Think we would all be better off as a country if people were back to basics.

  8. Mule Skinner says:

    The following has a grammatical error commonly seen in the upper midwest. “Recently, for example, I went ahead and purchased a portable GPS unit for my wife and I to use.” If you remove “my wife and” you get “Recently, for example, I went ahead and purchased a portable GPS unit for . . . I to use.” The problem here is using a nominative pronoun as the object of a prepositional phrase.

  9. Gabriel says:

    Fantastic post. It’s always better to enjoy the luxury of such a “splurge”, rather than having it become a mindless habit. That’s what I get out of living frugally – you scrimp in areas that you don’t care about that much in order to have money for a luxury that you really enjoy.

  10. Sally says:

    Unless work pays for your banana and tea – then it would cost you something……just not as much as it would in the coffee shop.

  11. dimwell says:

    Which GPS unit did you get?

  12. erlebe-ferneisen says:

    Dear Trent!
    You wrote: “A habit is never healthy”

    Really? What about the habit of eating healthy, or the habit to first think about the shopping before actually doing any shopping?

    Only habits that are completely subconscious and that point one away from ones goals are negative I think.

    Kind regards from Germany,
    Irmel

  13. Dawn says:

    I agree that we should spend consciously. Being mindful of where my money goes has really helped me control my spending. Like you said – sometimes purchases of material things do bring me joy, other times it is more out of habit or old memories. Although sometimes I like the idea of living as a frugal monk with nothing but the absolute necessities, I know that is not really who I am. It is all about finding balance and being moderate without causing myself to feel deprived.

  14. Peter says:

    GPS.. I do not get it! The cost, the distraction while driving, and it seems that a map works quite well, and are FREE. Is anyone blazing trails in unknown territory? I just do not get it!!!

  15. kz says:

    @ mule skinner: Thank you :)

    @ Trent: You write, “A habit is never healthy. When an experience (particularly one tied to spending) becomes routine and normal, it should either fulfill a basic need in a simple way or it should be reconsidered.”

    I’m curious – do you think all habits are unhealthy? Or just those related to finance? In either case, I think such a blanket statement is erroneous. I have plenty of non-financial habits that are healthy (regular exercise, my habitual snacks of fruits and veggies, a weekly date with my husband to the local library, etc.). I also have plenty of financial habits that are healthy (I pay my credit card bill in full every week, I direct about 30% of our gross income into savings every month, I check on and maintain my accounts at least twice a month, etc.).

    I would say that a better blanket statement is that, with any habit, it’s beneficial to stop and think periodically about why you have the habit. If it no longer serves the need or has become unhealthy, then you will be in a position to change it.

  16. beth says:

    @Mule Skinner, thank you for pointing that out! That’s one that grates on me but that I try to let pass since so many smart people I know fall prey to the she/her, I/me rules. :-)

    Great post, and nicely timed, as we are still struggling with the sacrifices of getting on a fairly rigid budget. The splurges have been occasionally sneaking in there, but they are replacing old unnecessary habits and *are* much more enjoyable when they are only occasional.

  17. Great follow-up article Trent! I agree wholeheartedy with you on this one. I was one of those that disagreed last time and you made a great point that not only do I agree with entirely, but also one which I wrote about on my site in an article titled “He-Man & The Masters of the Universe”.

  18. Tracy says:

    Love this post. I just got back from a very rare trip with some roomates from college (20+ years ago).

    The best part of the trip was just catching up with everyone, not the lunches out or shopping. I am, however, pretty frugal normally, so a little splurge like this trip was great too. It was guilt-free, because I didn’t spend more than I could afford, budgeted for the trip, and paid cash.

    No ugly credit card statement to return home to.

  19. Ryan Loos says:

    “The difficulty for many people is that splurges become habits without the person realizing it.” Great thought for many people today!

  20. Great follow-up article Trent! I agree wholeheartedy with you on this one. I was one of those that disagreed last time and you made a great point that not only do I agree with entirely, but also one which I wrote about on my site in an article titled “He-Man & The Masters of the Universe”.
    Should say good post. Looking forward to reading your next post!

  21. Battra92 says:

    @Studenomics: I hear you. I’m a teetotaler and in many ways I felt I missed a lot of socialization with people since they wouldn’t even bother with someone who refused to drink.

  22. Strick says:

    Great article, I think this is the main reason why my savings grows dramtically as my income increases. ‘Splurges’ are always good if you can afford them, Unnecessary ‘habits’ are never good, no matter how much money you have, because the making of a habit usually robs you of future splurges. Eating fast food everyday is a disgusting habit that doesn’t bring me any pleasure, but eating that first McDonald french fry after a month of no fast food is amazing! The money saved from not making this a habit is not the main reason to keep your splurges from becoming habits, just a wonderful byproduct. Its amazing how you can even find splurges where you thought there was none (think of that first hot shower you take or the feel of your bed after a week of camping).

  23. Marianne says:

    Totally agree with every point in this article except the sentence “habits are never healthy.” Aside from the obvious (that some habits ARE healthy), this also fails to take into account that going to a coffee shop twice a month IS a habit–just not a daily one. I see what you’re getting at, but I think that statement was just a bit too broad.

  24. Nick says:

    I used to be an avid amateur screenwriter. Never sold anything, but had a lot of fun writing stories. Once a week I would go to a coffee shop before work for two hours and viciously write.

    I could not have gotten so much done in my home or office. It allowed me to step outside of my normal routine once a week.

    I finished two complete screenplays by doing that. I still do it occasionally, but not with the same schedule.

    It was worth the $3 coffee once a week.

  25. Anitra Smith says:

    Hm. When I go to a coffee shop, it’s because I can relax much better there than I can at home. At the coffee shop, I can sit and read a book, enjoy the atmosphere, and savor a coffee and pastry – at home, I drink coffee in the morning, but my attention is always divided (especially now that I have a baby). And when my attention ISN’T being demanded, I’m so exhausted I tend to zone out with the TV.

    And that’s why coffee shops started taking up most of my discretionary money, until I set a limit on how much I can spend there each month. I haven’t found a good substitute, though.

  26. Marsha says:

    The concepts of “splurges” and “treats” are ones I’m struggling with. Somewhere along the way, I adopted the thinking that I “deserved” splurges or treats every so often. I’m not sure where I got that or whether there’s any logic to that at all – am still working on it. I do believe that splurges and treats can be expensive in terms of dollars and otherwise (e.g., calories).

  27. DollarDream$ says:

    Strick, I exactly know what you are saying when you wrote ” but eating that first McDonald french fry after a month of no fast food is amazing!” !

    I have stopped eating fast food 2-3 times a week and instead once in a month I pick-up a burger at McDonalds or a burrito at Taco Bell and I literally plan for that since the morning and I am really excited to eat that food! It’s funny how I have changed.

  28. Thanks for yet another thoughtful post Trent.

    You’re absolutely right, of course. An easy example of what you’re talking about for me is buying my lunch. I pack a lunch at least 80% of the time, so the few occasions when I splurge feel like a real treat.

    And good call on your point about paying for memories! Very insightful.

  29. jreed says:

    The Simple Dollar is very popular right now because of our economy…but as interest in The Tightwad Gazette waned with the recession receeding; so may go TSD. Even you, Trent, are losing interest in making every dollar count as you are out buying pastries and coffee twice a week to alleviate boredom. Diehard frugalists are losing interest as you hypocretically financed a brand new Prius. The message here is becoming vague with mostly other professional bloggers cheering you on. What is the Simple Dollar’s purpose???

  30. Kim says:

    I’m in the process of trying to break a fast food lunch habit. I have come to realize that there is little enjoyment in it anymore. Instead I’m treating myself to a weekly lunch with a friend. We take turns cooking. I spend about as much as I would for a home made dinner, but since the expense is only once every two weeks, it turns out to be much less expensive. This is a far more satisfying social experience than the daily quick burger.

  31. Dana says:

    That is a very astute observation. In the end, memories are perhaps the only things we have with us, and that are worth the money. Great post, well done!

  32. Sarah says:

    Several people have touched on it. But if you replace “spend” and “money” with “eat” and “food”, this article becomes useful for looking at weight loss instead of spending.

    I think a lot of my eating is related to this sort of comfort and nostalgia.

    Thanks Trent!

  33. Brian says:

    @jreed

    He said twice a month, not twice a week.

  34. Janice says:

    So, Trent, in essence you are saying the same thing that you lambasted in your post that prompted this one: one chooses how to spend ones money on “luxuries”.

    Yet, you neglected to reflect on Sydney’s post and how you “misread” it.

  35. Nikc says:

    I think the best way to break a habit is to use Mint.com, run the numbers on the habit for the past 6 months, see the average cost. Usually this is so staggering, I at least end up finding alternatives.

    The book “Predictably Irrational” outlines how habits form in a similar way that you did. It explains that when you see people standing in line for something say, a cup of coffee, you automatically assume the coffee must be very good. So you stand in line like the rest and try the coffee. If it is good, then you go back again, and then again. Each time you go to get the coffee your are essentially forming “a line” in your brain. Each time you return you see the long line of yourself (each time you got the coffee in the past) and you just assume that it is very good, every time. Before long its hard to tell if the coffee is good, or just the memories (especially the first few times) is what is satisfying you.

  36. Habit and routine can remove the “special” in some things . . .

    I have posted about going out to dinner going from a special occasion to being a way of life, an expensive one.

    We need to put the “special” back into our lives– when we do that we will appreciate things and moments more.

  37. Oddly enough, I posted about something very similar yesterday, about how occasional splurges are much more enjoyable than habitual splurges.

    I did wonder the same thing as some of your other commenters, though, about the “habits are always bad” idea. Perhaps you just mean that habitual splurges are always bad, but that seemed like a pretty large overstatement if that’s what you were trying to communicate.

  38. Goal Hunter says:

    This is a very insightful post and a truly enjoyable read. The information here has power, for some readers, to change how they make choices and really raise the standard of their lives. I love it.

  39. Deep thoughts Trent… and I love them.

    It becomes like a drug addict chasing the high.

    A pleasant coffee shop visit or meal at a nice restuarant are enjoyed in a special way because they ARE special. Eating a Ruth’s Chris steak every day becomes a chore after enough days whereas it is (for me) one of life’s joys if done once or twice a year.

    Pleasure activities – not work or exercise which are very different – should be done in reflection of ‘this moment’ not historical or long past moments.

    Great stuff Trent, thanks for making us think – again!
    Dave

  40. IRG says:

    Life is relative. What’s a splurge and/or luxury to one, may indeed be a “staple” to another (who has the money to spend while still saving and not overspending).

    Trent makes good points. And if he has perhaps covered them before, so what? A writer cannot assume that everyone read everything he/she wrote before.

    Plus, repetition is important when making changes, learning new habits, reinforcing changes, etc.

    What I personally like about Trent is that he does not, to my mind, represent the extremes of spending: Mindless consumption OR seriously questionable frugality. (Sorry, some of y’all who comment here, I wonder how much you enjoy your lives and where in the world you live. You can’t possibly socialize much or want to participate in a lot of society. Saving money is important; not being debt is important. Purchasing consciously and with thought to whether something is a want or need, very important.

    But so is enjoying some of the ‘stuff.” I think, my friends, that some are perhaps deep down envious of the ability of someone like Trent to be able to enjoy some of the treats of life.

    Cause the truth is, there are certainly plenty of hardworking people who deserve a lot more than they have. But life is unfair in many ways, including how people are compensated (TO the person who does NOT get the need for a GPS, I hear you. But I don’t understand the need to pay sports figures kazillion dollars to take steroids, cheat and worse.)

    And please, do not forget that a blog represents a point of view (POV). You don’t have to agree with Trent. He’s not asking you to “follow” him, he just raises thoughts and asks you to think about your choices.

    I’ve disagreed with several of his articles, but I still respect his POV and almost always he has a unique take on a topic that makes it worth my while to continue reading him.

    I especially like that he is not a fanatic like some of the financial/frugal bloggers and is respectful of others and not defensive. Signs of a secure and confident human being.

  41. teri says:

    habits are never healthy? really? a habit of reading with your child every evening? a habit of eating at home? a habit of exercising every day? a habit of taking a shower each morning? a habit of eating grapes rather than m&ms?

    I think there are some habits that are perfectly acceptable–humans are creatures of habit, after all. The problem is that we have so many unconscious habits, and so many unhealthy ones. The issue is mindfulness, not habits.

  42. Karen says:

    IRG comment #40 I agree. It is Trent’s POV. Plus I am also sick of sports people getting paid big bucks for playing a game and cheating at it. By brother in law has a GPS since he travels alot and loves it. It shows restrooms, etc. on the drive which will come in handy for little ones especially since Trent has a girl who will not be able to tinkle into a bottle!!! My boy friend and I are looking into getting one also. I can read a map but a map doesn’t give me all the great information between my distinations. Keep up the good work Trent.

  43. Robin says:

    Splurging had become such an ingrained habit for most Americans over the last few decades, that we all told ourselves & our friends “go ahead, you deserve it”. Now many people are struggling with feelings of depression, during these difficult economic times. Not all of these people, are losing anything, like a home or job. Some are just put in the position that they need to live within their means, and the loss of indulgences, have apparently made them feel, like less of a person. Hopefully, our society will go into “recovery”, from this materials addiction, and not just go back to the same old ways when things eventually get better.

  44. IRG says:

    In defense of the GPS…

    I don’t drive and am rarely in a car. However, I’ve had to play navigator many times, with the ensuing frustration of the driver often escalating as directions (from friends, MapQuest, police, etc.) didn’t work.

    However, in the fall, I took a road trip from NYC to Florida over two days. My brother and sister in law borrowed a GPS unit from a friend. It was so useful because we could look up places to eat, reststops, motels, etc. quickly. (I had already done a lot of stuff online but this let’s you find stuff based on exactly where you are or will be in a few minutes. Love it. Plus they used it to walk all around new york city by themselves without getting lost. I didn’t have to hold their hands or keep answering cell calls to ask: Where are we? How do we get to X? Y? Z?)

    My brother and sister in law travel a lot with my nephew for his activities and that of his schoolmates. So for Xmas I got them a GPS, which they love and use all the time.

    The key with this and other electronics and gadgets is whether you will really use them, versus just wanting them because everyone else has them or you think you should get one. That MAYBE you’ll need it.

    I totally admire folks who can live with little and are not into “stuff” but I know that there are still some items that are so functional, big time and money-savers and sometimes just plain comforting (a good stereo system) that they are worth the investment I make in them. They provide daily advantages and improvements to the overall quality of my life. (Like hot water and big bathtubs! LOL)

    But we all have to really take the time to think: Stuff takes up space, requires maintenance and upkeep, and the question is: What is the ROI to you on a personal and/or professional level versus what you paid upfront and what you pay on the back end in time, etc. to learn, use?

    For some readers, a kindle, for example, is a gotta-have item. I get it, but I’m a reader who loves, loves, loves the physicality of books. But not electronic books. (A chapter here and there is fine but I want a book in my hand, thank you.)

    For others, it’s a Blackberry or one of those new lite notebook computers.

    New and “advanced” aren’t always better, and for the most part, for me and many others, that isn’t enough to get me/us to part with something that already works fine. (I’m still regretting tossing out an old toaster when someone gave us a fancy new one. The new one is pretty but it sucks. The old one was plain and perfect.)

    Again, Trent is only asking us to think carefully about what we want, which is always a good thing. And NO ONE is immune from some form of stuff. I know folks who live pretty simply compared to many of us city folks. But then, you see where they DO spend money: On gardening stuff, fishing and hunting gear, sports events (Egads, the prices. How do families do it?)and in some cases, building materials to build “stuff.”

    As Trent points out, we should be able to enjoy and delight in some of the stuff. And not feel guilty. Otherwise, what’s the point?

    You don’t need to go through life wearing the equivalent of the hairshirt of frugality.

  45. John says:

    Trent; I’ve had my gps about 3 years, really like it. some have a lock on them you have to enter a code to operate, mine is a Garmin.

  46. Sharon says:

    I have a Garmin, too, after taking a trip with a friend and his Garmin. I was halfway to one destination when I became aware that a certain tension was NOT in my body. I was never aware of that tension before it was gone, as I get lost easily. While getting lost isn’t a huge stressor for me (“Getting lost just means finding a new way home” is a quote I recite often!) it was a stress that I never recognized. My husband navigates for me, but when I am alone it is not good, even with Mapquest.

    We got our own Garmin, with the lifetime subscription so we can update and find stuff on the road, and it paid for itself the very next trip. We were going to a Shriner’s convention and without it we would have had to stay at the convention hotel. With it we were able to go a distance away and save close to $100 per night. We could also go find less expensive places to eat.

  47. Sharon says:

    P.S. Our Garmin is stored in a very old camera box that looks like nothing at all. Yeah, don’t leave it visible!

  48. Christine says:

    A trick which works well for me is to make myself wait to purchase an item.
    Example 1: I’ve been wanting a GPS for a few years now. I’ve been using Mapquest and AAA’s trip-tik to plan trips. Sometimes, though, I just get plain lost, as we live near D.C. and visit there often. A GPS will probably be my next major electronic purchase. Example 2: For about a year I’ve wanted an XM radio to use in the house (we use the reciever in our van), but the high cost stopped me. Then, I found a new-in-the-box XM radio on ebay for only 40% of the cost of one at a department store. I didn’t feel guilty at all spending the money, as I had made myself wait, and it wasn’t an impulse buy. (Incidentally, the XM is just about our only entertainment expense, as we have no TV, no cable, and don’t rent or go to movies.) Example 3: Since the beginning of the school year I’ve needed a small laptop for one of my children, and was looking at spending close to $500, which was as cheap as I could find for something basic. However, I found a used one on ebay even cheaper ($175) and it doesn’t have wi-fi or a DVD player, which I didn’t want. Again, delaying a major purchase saved me lots of money.

  49. Chike says:

    “I wasn’t actually getting joy from the purchase itself, but from the memory.”

    Probably one of the most insightful things I’ve read on a blog.

  50. princess_peas says:

    Great post, thankyou.

    You’ve brought to mind a number of purchases I do that are really just trying to relive the memories of the first time over and over.
    The first time I went into a Subway (as an adult – backwater market town) was a wonderful experience. But not one worth shelling out ~£6/£7 a time, once or twice a week or even once or twice a month for! Only when I really really want one and don’t need the money for anything else.

    Thanks, this article has a very very good point!

  51. Cade says:

    A very insightful post, Trent. Spending money for memories pretty much sums it up. I know lots of people who head down to the same little beach bar each evening to toast the sunset…and rack up a bill close to $15 for a beer and a burger. Their splurges have become habits without them even recognizing it…just like you said.

    I’ve disciplined myself to do that about once or twice each month, just like you do with your visits to the coffee shop with your laptop. It makes the experience a lot more meaningful.

    Thanks for a great post. You nailed it.

  52. Charles Cohn says:

    Somebody mentioned the distraction of a GPS. In my experience, it’s a lot less distracting than a map. (Of course, you should always be stopped when you are setting up a route.)

    In unfamiliar territory, you have to be continually watching for street signs, etc. With a GPS, you don’t even have to look at the screen; all you have to do is listen for the voice commands, which are always given well in advance of need.

    Also, a GPS always calculates the most efficient route, which can save you time and gas. This can be helpful even in your home territory.

  53. Mary says:

    Being a Geography major, I don’t necessarily like GPS. It’s fun for me to read maps and be the navigator myself. :)

    Great post. I could relate when you said “Are these things really bringing you happiness – or are they tired routines centered around something you can’t really recapture?” I thought of my times in college drinking with friends. It’s exactly that – friends have moved on and you can’t really recapture the great memories you had out at the bars. I’m still in the same places (bars) trying to relive those memories. I now realize that there are better things in life than this. Thanks.

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