Reader Question: Spending on Items vs. Experiences

Today’s post is answering a question from a sweet reader, Sylvia:

Hi Katherine, can you share what you can disclose about how much you spend on experiences (travel, activities) versus clothes and fashion? Do you wish you spent more on one or another?

I thought this was a fairly easy to answer question… and I found the answer pretty quickly, too. It just took some digging around in my “annual reports” from American Express and Visa, and I got my answer. My spend on travel (which is where I spend the bulk of my “experience” money), versus clothes/accessories? Almost 50%, exactly.

Combining my two favorite interests - travel (in Paris) with shopping (of the window variety, at the Hermes flagship)

Combining my two favorite interests – travel (in Paris) with shopping (of the window variety, at the Hermes flagship)

I was surprised that it was such an even split, but wasn’t surprised by the fact that the two were close. They’re my two biggest frivolous expenses…yes, more than food! Amazing!

Now, as to whether I wish I actually spent more on one area, versus another? No…I’m very happy with the split. I know that there may be some people who wish that they spent more on travel versus other items, and a bunch of articles out there talking about how experiences are way better than things, and how all of us who lust after physical items should be banished to a remote island with other materialistic narcissists, where we wait for enlightened yogis to come save us.

But for me? I love travel, and new experiences. I also love things…especially beautiful items. I enjoy both, depending on what they are, more, less, or equally to each other. And I feel incredibly fortunate that I’m able to have the choice.

How about you? What’s your breakdown like, between time/resources spent on experiences, versus “stuff”?

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  • Emily
    February 25, 2015 at 10:14 am

    I tend to spend more on experiences (travel, food, and entertainment) but mostly because I’m so picky with “things”, especially if they’re high end! If I’m spending quite a bit, I don’t know if I can commit to loving it in my closet for a long time. However, the few classic items that I love and cherish make me happy every time I use or wear them, so they’re certainly worth the purchase for me.

    So no judgment or island exile just because you love stuff and experiences equally! I think both are worthy of love. 🙂

    Jemily Life

    • Katherine
      February 26, 2015 at 10:47 am

      Good point about being picky with things…for some reason I’m less picky about an experience too, if it goes wrong…well it’s over and done with.

  • Luxuriously Frugal
    February 25, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Just checked my spending for last year. The spending ratio is 1 to 2 between “things” and “travel”. Not because we value travel more than “things”, but we pay for travel not only for our family but also for our parents and some relatives. Just for our family, the spending ratio is about 1 to 1. My struggle is not between “things” and “experiences”, but between “saving” and “shopping”. I love both equally.

    • Katherine
      February 26, 2015 at 10:47 am

      Ah, that makes sense to me. Thank you for sharing your personal experience!

  • Whitney Farris
    February 25, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    My biggest expense, my three horses! We are fortunate that we own our barn, but owning horses of this calibre costs money!!! Training, showing etc! I traveled and lived all over the world in my younger days, with my father being a diplomat. I still travel some now, but it pales compared to years past. After my horses, my money goes into things! I love nice stuff and I have been lucky enough to have it.

    • Katherine
      February 26, 2015 at 10:47 am

      I know a few ladies who compete and/or just love horses and own them, and I can agree with you that this sounds like an incredibly expensive hobby! But very worthwhile as well 🙂

  • Whitney Farris
    February 25, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Caliber. Sorry of the typo! jeez!!!!!!

  • Wonderland Boudoir
    February 25, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    I personally enjoy experience more. I love love love love love fashion… but let me tell you, I have never had buyer remorse when I went on a trip versus when I spent $500 on clothes I didn’t need in the first place. I feel as though experiences bring more value to your life… versus me giving Neiman Marcus one more red penny… but part of me can’t help it. I LOVE lingerie!

    That’s why I read so many fashion blogs… because I feel as though it feels that itch for me.

    • Katherine
      February 26, 2015 at 10:46 am

      Great points….!! And I’d love to hear your favorite lingerie splurges 🙂

  • ahhhsoneo
    March 16, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    I don’t spend much on travel at all, mainly because I have to travel for work so the “fun” part of it has been sucked out for now. I think I currently spend more on things, just seems much easier to attain that this point. The best is when you get to purchase a beloved item while travelling!

  • little luxury list
    March 16, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    As an expat (now one with a small family!), my purchases will and do certainly skew heavily towards travel/experiences. Our trips to visit family across the world or even across regions are equivalent to at least a Birkin. But that’s what matters to me! That being said, I can’t resist dropping by the Rue Sevres store in Hermes and picking up something. But priorities change when you have a family. Now every dollar spent (non travel related) is a dollar that could be in my daughter’s college fund or towards a home!

    little luxury list formerly Chic ‘n Cheap Living