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How Cherishing Experiences Can Make You (Feel Like) a Millionaire

How Cherishing Experiences Can Make You (Feel Like) a Millionaire

This year, the holiday season is different for me, and many of the people I know. Times are tough.

Did the economy ever really bounce back? Wasn’t the world supposed to end? Is the upcoming year going to be better than the last?

But, most of all, this year is different because I’ve realized that I want more.

I Want More

This past year, I’ve come to an important conclusion: I want more out of life.

I want more out of every day—my career, my relationships, my body. I want better.

I want to feel more—fulfilled, free, happy, significant, healthy.

I want to do more to contribute, make an impact, help others, and exercise.

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I want to learn more about entrepreneurship, leadership, technology, and writing.

I want more, but there’s a problem: I’m not always sure how to go about it.  What am I to do?

The answer is easier than you’d image: choose experiences over spending.

Our lives are formed by the choices we make: we choose what to make of our lives, and how to spend them. We choose how to spend our money, and how to spend our time—nobody is taking either of things without our explicit consent. The choice to live a better life can start now—today, during this new year season.

Here’s the choice I’m making today:

I want my experiences to be front and center—not the stuff that piles up around me.

Are you with me?

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If you want more out of life, you can make a similar choice today. Choose experiences over spending on stuff and see how quickly things change.

a millionaire

    The Ultimate Test: When We Go

    I remember that my grandmother liked to repeat a saying that used to creep me out when I was small, but now it has helped to put my life into perspective more than I ever imagined. She’d say:

    “You’re not taking your gold with you to the grave.”

    I don’t think she meant to say that money isn’t important, but I definitely don’t think she meant we should go on a spending spree. After all, we do need to eat, bathe, and so on. The meaning behind her ghoulish words is closer to encouraging appreciation of what we have while we have it. Guided by this concept, it’s easy for me to make quick decisions on what I want for my life: for example, there are things in life we may consider to be too expensive, but are worthwhile:

    I want to meet amazing people, but traveling to a conference costs a considerable amount of money.

    I want to have a wonderful night with my husband, but we can’t afford to go to a fancy restaurant.

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    I want to hang out with my closest friends, but they live all over the world.

    I want to see new places, but traveling is so costly.

    My dreams about experiences I desire the most are completely quashed due to lack of funds. It doesn’t seem fair—or right.

    How about we chuck that logic and find a new way to experience a great life? How about we put money aside and create those experiences ourselves?

    I’m Not a Millionaire, But I Want to Feel Like One

    When I analyze all of the things I want to do and buy with money, I realize that what I am really trying to chase down is a feeling.

    Last I checked, we don’t pay for feelings with money. We pay for them with experiences, so let’s take those examples from above and find ways to accomplish them without spending a dime.

    I want to meet meet amazing people, so I’ll organize informal meetups at a coffee shop, and invite thought-leaders in my city.

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    I want to have a wonderful night with my husband. Who says you can’t break out of the routine at home? I’ll plan an awesome meal at home and have a ridiculously bad dance party.

    I want to hang out with my closest friends. If they’re abroad, I’ll videochat with them regularly. Being there for each other and laughing is all that matters, even if it’s not in person.

    I want to see new places. I can get to know new areas in my community, while I budget for long-distance trips.

    Sure, these modifications require some sacrifices—traveling within my community is not the same as visiting Michelangelo’s David in Florence, but it’s a good start. By focusing on the feelings I desire, I’ve changed my approach: experiences can make me feel amazing—much more than spending money. Being a millionaire must be amazing, but there’s nothing like enjoying the experiences at my fingertips.

    The feelings I desire can come true without spending the big bucks. Who knew!?

    Featured photo credit:  Young beautiful couple kissing at the sea. Wedding kiss. via Shutterstock

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    Last Updated on March 4, 2019

    How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

    How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

    Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

    I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

    Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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    Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

    Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

    Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

    I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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    I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

    If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

    Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

    The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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    Using Credit Cards with Rewards

    Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

    You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

    I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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    So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

    What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

    Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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