The consumerist world we live in seems to have turned us into money making robots with ever-increasing desire to earn more only to spend more. A growing number of twenty-somethings have fallen victim to this vicious circle of making earning their top priority.
What happened to the fun-seeking, experience-hunting, and self-realization twenties? People in their twenties seem much more concerned about their savings, pressuring themselves to act more grown-up than they actually are. Therefore they seem to settle for mediocre jobs and relationships in order to play by the rules and strictly follow pre-made life paths. True – bills, rent and college debt won’t pay itself, but what you do with the rest of your paycheck, is what makes all the difference.
People who spend money on experiences are happier
Whenever you are facing the latest version of a smartphone or a trip with your friends dilemma, make sure to pick the experience purchase, suggests Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychologist, in the study “A Wonderful Life: Experiential Consumption and the Pursuit of Happiness,” published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. He presents his findings from a research where he compared the effects of products to experience purchase on human happiness. The results show that people who collect experiences instead of things, show much bigger and longer-lasting signs of contentedness.
When you spend time and money doing things or going places with other people in your life, you get a chance to enjoy sharing your experiences with others. This way you enrich your life, and apart from learning new skills and discovering new places, you learn a lot about yourself and others, and get valuable life lessons no gadget in the world, no matter how advanced, can teach you.
Growing older, the excitement of buying the latest smartphone, TV or a car will be long forgotten, but moments you shared on your trips or events with your friends and family will be vivid in your memory, even the bad ones, Gilovich finds out, “Even those concerts, theatrical performances, or vacations that do not turn out as planned are quickly rationalized (“It brought us closer to together,” “You only find out what someone is really like when things go awry”) and made peace with.”
The hype around the must haves of the season can turn you into a mindless consumer, if you don’t pay attention. Material things can help you feel good in a short run, while the skills you learn, experiences you share with your closest friends, and places you visit make you an altogether happier, smarter, more mindful and open-minded person. As Gilovich concludes “it is the experience that lives on and the possession that fades away.”
We are our greatest assets
In an effort to always earn more and spend more, young people seem to have adopted a certain consumerist mindset when it doesn’t matter how you feel, as long as it can help feed the consumer beast, so to speak. Hence, the prevailing dissatisfaction with and feeling of being trapped in unfulfilling job positions, which creates the need to spend more in order to feel better – a vicious cycle hard to get away from. Sure, you want to escape the mediocre job, yet the material security it provides, makes it seem impossible. So, most people decide to settle for the security of a regular paycheck, never really utilizing their true potential, with their skills and values gradually declining.
However, if they dare to take one small step towards a different direction, circumstances can change dramatically in the long run. By investing a little bit of their time, at first, in cultivating their talents and skills, they are investing in their future of doing the work they are truly passionate about. Gradually, the transition to a much more desired position can happen, providing them with more time, money and more-purposeful work. Their whole outlook on life changes once they discover the best outlet for their talents. Realizing that you don’t need to settle in your twenties, but to find the time and funds to discover your passion, is a great way to prioritize and to invest in your future.
Building the right foundations
Another reason to not obsess about savings in your twenties is to create the right mindset that will make your life much more enjoyable. Our twenties seem so challenging simply because it is the time when we make the most mistakes trying to reach maturity and self-realization. The lessons we learn now, influence our future belief system to a great extent. By discovering early in life not to compromise your time and happiness for material rewards, you avoid spending a lifetime blindly chasing the wrong values.