The most illuminating part of this quite interesting thread is the realization that, just like our world, there is hardly a “typical” Boglehead. We tend to view the world through our own quite individual lens and, as such, tend to think most of our BH peers think and believe in a similar manner as we do. True, some of us are just beginning their asset accumulation phase. Many more of us are close to retirement or enjoying retirement ourselves.
But, just as in life, there are neighbors that are homebodies, neighbors that love their boat and use it constantly, neighbors who are constantly traveling and sharing their travel stories with us, and neighbors that don’t fit into any of these stereotypes.
For me, we are enjoying the first year of our retirement and looking forward to downsizing to a smaller, age-in-place home in the next couple of years. As such, monthly trips to Goodwill are giving my wife and I great pleasure as we see our “hard assets” get smaller and smaller. When assets need replacement, we buy smartly (a geniune iPad rather than a cheap knockoff I might have been tempted to purchase in the past) but reluctantly. My 12 year old road bicycle needs replacement. I will probably look to buy a gently used or last year’s model, even though I could afford to buy a more expensive bike. I get great pleasure when saving money, as long as the quality of that item is not compromised. It doesn’t need to be top of the line though. I love cycling, so I’m going to spend $2-4K on it. I don’t watch much TV, so when my old one bit the dust, I bought a 50” non-4K model for less than $200. It’s all situational.
Traveling gives me great joy. We are independent travelers who have rented apartments and villas for years before Airbnb existed. When we travel, we try hard to be temporary locals, shopping at local supermarkets and farmers markets. We look for low priced airfares and, once we book them, we ask ourselves what we can do when we’re there. It’s a strategy that has worked well for us. We’ve taken our kids to Europe nine times, and the experiences and memories we have are priceless. Now that we’re retired and soon to be empty nesters, we’ll be using our points occasionally to splurge on business class...but not staying at posh hotels. We zig when others zag.
We also feel a strong urge to give back. I recently travelled to Rwanda with a group of six to drill a water well. I saw the sights, went for a sunset kayak tour of Lake Kivu, went for a bike ride. But the main purpose of the trip was to make a difference in the lives of some rural villagers. That experience will remain with me for a lifetime, and it has changed me. Our next giving back trip will be to Haiti.
In conclusion, I would hope that, when asking the question of spending money on assets vs experiences, y’all would consider that both of those choices focus on our own enjoyment rather than someone else. Victor Frankl felt strongly that, to find purpose in life, one needs to find something bigger than ourselves to focus on. For some it’s grandkids, for some it’s a thirsty Rwandan village. Just my two cents.