From things to experiences. How to create the life you want.

I’ve had a few people ask how we do it. How do we manage to do so many fun things and take so many trips? I’ve even had a few assume we must have a lot of money, which made me laugh.

One of the great things about getting to 50 and beyond is we’ve had so many different experiences and life changes. For me, I’ve had it all, and lost it all, more than once.

I learned awhile back that possessing things isn’t important to me. Having lost all my “things” during the housing crisis taught me the most important lesson I’ve learned in life.

“You can take away my things, but you can’t take away my experiences.”

My husband feels the same way. We live a modest lifestyle in a small rental apartment. It’s in a beach town, which is where we want to live. I think our square footage is under 900 for the entire place.

Would you rather have experiences or things?
Creating a beach life experience is important to us

All of our furniture was purchased used.

Our sofa was a hand-me-down from John’s sister. The recliner we have was a craigslist $50 special. Just about everything except our clothes and a handful of skateboards, were used.

Our modest home
Modest living gives us an opportunity to enjoy more experiences

In fact, at 58 years old, I’ve never owned a brand new car. My car is 12 years old, and we purchased it with cash. I got my bicycle from my son, and John found his used for a great price.

Our “new” motorcycle is used, and also a cash purchase. It’s a ton of fun, and gets great gas mileage too. We maybe spend $15 on gas for a weekend getaway.

You get to decide

Here’s the thing, unless you are lucky enough to be one of the super rich in this world, chances are you have a limited income.

When I was a realtor I would ask my buyers to make a list of what they wanted in a house.

Inevitably they would create a list that would not match their budget. But then I’d ask which is more important to them, “the house or the lot?” “more bedrooms, or a big garage?” and so on.

Prioritizing your wish list is so important.

It makes it easier to ask yourself the same questions, “Is buying this thing more important than creating an experience?” All of the little things we buy can quickly add up to the same cost of a weekend trip.

So it’s just a matter of what you would rather have. Sometimes the “thing” is what is most important, but other times it isn’t.

You decide.

Reader Comments

  1. Kerry LifeandLoves

    Ohh I LOVE this post. So honest and real x. I love your thought process and last year, made a conscious decision to be more mindful of my spending and stop impulse buying. The reason for this, we want to have more holidays, have more experiences and collect memories not things. I am always going to enjoy buying nice things, but I have restricted myself to one nice handbag per year. Baby steps haha x

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Thanks Kerry! Holidays are so wonderful, and it’s amazing how easy it is to save for one when we get the right mindset.

      I love your “baby steps”!

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Such a great choice…especially with kids. Growing up, I don’t really remember any of the toys I had, but I sure remember going for Ice Cream with my Dad on Sundays.

  2. Cindy Scurry

    Home is where the heart is and clearly your hearts are full. Your home looks very warm and inviting. I love it! Experiences are the best! To be happy in life you need less…not more!

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      So true Cindy! It took me a while to realize that “home is where the heart is”….one of those things that was easy for me to say, but not as easy to realize, in my soul. Now I get it!

  3. Leslie Clingan

    This has become my new attitude. At least when it comes to gifts. I am hoping to continue to steer my crew away from buying gifts and to just save money so we can get together and make memories. We did pretty well at that philosophy over Christmas but there’s room for improvement.
    I have had new cars but then I keep them forever. The one I have now I bought new ten years ago. 2008 Nissan Altima. It has been so reliable. KNOCK ON WOOD!
    Great post.

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Good for you Leslie! That is how I started too. My sons were both gone, one working on a drag racing team, and the other at the Naval Academy. They didn’t have room for “things”! So I started gifting them “experiences” instead. They loved it, so we’ve kept it up.

      And, smart purchase with that Nissan. They go forever! I have a 2006 Volvo now with over 200k miles on her!

      Thank you for reading and sharing too!!

  4. Mary D.

    I want to be like you when I grow up! I’m the polar opposite in this area. I love shopping (sales and thrift stores are the best) and I have so much stuff but I’m lacking in the experiences category. I don’t know how to change a lifetime of accumulating wealth and possessions that I like but don’t need! I have never bought a used car because of childhood nightmare experiences (our car broke down when we got the call that my mother was dying and we needed to get to the hospital asap to see her before she was gone.)

    Because of my desire to acquire, I started ecommerce in 1999 as I approached empty nesting, but I have more collections than I could sell in two lifetimes. I now find my experiences are lacking and as I get older, I realize if I don’t get busy living, I will die before I have experienced the other side. Maybe there is no hope for me at this late stage, but at least my children see how I live and they live more in the moment. Or maybe watching you live the life you want, will help me just a little!!

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Awww…Mary, thanks for sharing this.

      I think whatever brings you joy, is okay. I loved my “things”, but when I lost everything during the housing crisis (bankruptcy) I came to realize I wasn’t as happy with my things as I thought. I still wanted the big home that my kids came home to, but I’ve slowly let that go too.

      My first trip to Europe was only 5 years ago! I knew then that I wanted to have more of that…more travel and seeing places. So then it was easy to let go of things and save for experiences.

      I bet you could sell some of those collections and take a trip with the money!

      Thank you, as always, for reading and sharing. I love knowing your story too!

  5. Barbie Wade

    I so resonate with this post. Having lost everything more than once as well…..I found myself hoarding. With an early background in retail and my parents were in the antique business…a bargain comes to me naturally. I’ve realized I’ve begun to hoard…and am taking the necessary steps to simplify my life. Too much stuff! Your home is warm and inviting…like you, everything I have is previously owned…exvept fir a breakfast table. Thought it was a big deal to get it when I did…waay overpriced and has fallen apart over the few years we’ve had it. Today’s workmanship say the least. Thanks for sharing❤

    • Barbie Wade

      Oh…and every year I poll my 6 children at Christmas…I ask if they want stuff or experiences. Experiences always wins! Been doing it for about 10 years now! Whether its theme park passes or a trip to the mountains, we are in it together!

      • Loretta Sayers
        Loretta Sayers

        Probably the biggest joy I get from writing this blog, are the comments I get. I love reading about your life and experiences too. It feels good to share these things.

        I can relate to the antique / bargain thing. I used to have a small space in an antique mall, and my house was filled with antiques. I too began “collecting” and before I knew it, we had a 3,000 square foot house filled.

        I’m glad you are starting to simplify your life. It is hard at first, but once the stuff is gone, the sense of freedom from all of it is so wonderful. I think it takes years for most of us to transition to fewer things.

        I love that your kids are all about experiences! It’s funny, every time we get a thing as a gift, years later we can’t even remember what it was. But given an experience….that stays with us forever.

        Thank you, Barbie, for reading and for sharing. Xx

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