Experiences > Stuff → Is a LIE
I am sorry. You were lied to.
We grew up in the face of ever rising housing costs, several recessions, and dismal jobs opportunities. Freedom and enjoying the moment became our way out — our salvation.
This ultimately led to two big ideas:
1. Experiences are more important than things
2. Access trumps ownership
These became the monikers of our time — the calling card of our generation.
There are lots of reasons why we bought this philosophy and claimed it as our own…
On the one hand, experiences > stuff is a mass protest against previous generations. Older generations seemed to have no bounds — they bought too many cars, increasingly larger homes, and became slaves to their possessions at the expense of creating memories and connection.
Possessions seemed like emotional rocks, weighing our parents generation down — a huge liability and hindrance to actual freedom.
But, the so-called sharing economy left a hole in our future pockets.
The sharing economy helped us get what we wanted without the complications of storage, ownership, social expectations, and commitment.
We wanted to experience everything without barriers — so to be able to rent anything, where ever we happen to be or get from point-a to point-b without the hassle of car ownership made us feel an illusive sense of freedom. Who needs a car, which costs a minimum of $1,000 a month, when you can hire an on-demand Uber driver? And who needs to own a home when you can have access to novel Airbnb homes globally?
But we took it too far.
Millennials didn’t just reject new iPhones and designer goods in favor of experiences, but on the whole, but they also skipped over some of the most important things — genuine assets.
As the largest adult group globally, millennials are a mighty generation, but they don’t own homes, have investment accounts, or savings for the future. This is a problem — as homes are typically the nest egg of long-term investment and a great hedge against inflation.
At some point — Jacuzzis in exotic locations, hot air balloons in Cappadocia, expensive festivals, and globetrotting do not make up for not owning a home or planning for the future.
While some of us are nearing 40, others are in their mid to late 20s — it’s high time for a change.
You cannot rest your head in a memory.
How did we end up here?
Experiences are socially binding and a great equalizer — most people have access to experiences. They connect us through shared feelings, commonality, and the power of memories.
Psychologists call this “hedonic adaptation.” This is the idea that the excitement of a new Louis Vuitton bag, Rolex, or iPhone will quickly fade into the background of our lives, whereas experiences like climbing a mountain or going to the Sistine Chapel become a part of us and our identity, triggering deeper levels of happiness.
People have more longing and anticipation for experiences, creating spikes in joy— larger spikes than the anticipation of new possessions.
We get more dopamine imagining an experience, but does that mean that experiences are a substitute for ownership?
Or that these excitement highs won’t wane with time?
We also couldn’t afford more.
Experiences > stuff is the saccharin of our time.
Experiences > stuff a lie that’s been collectively agreed because of the economic reality we grew up in.
And you know what, we grew up with this carrot and gladly accepted it as if we thought of it ourselves. We accepted the reality of real estate markets we cannot afford, shrinking wages, limited jobs, and skyrocketing student debt.
I suppose we felt like we didn’t have a choice.
Jobs were a fallout too.
Freelancing isn’t so free after all.
Jobs became replaced more and more by gigs, freelancing, and consulting, which in large part benefit the employer and shelter them from taxes, liability, paying for health care, disability, and abiding by basic employment rules.
We said an enthusiastic yes to this too. Of course we wanted freedom — after all, it’s the badge of our time. The more the better.
But— freedom from what, freedom from who, freedom for what?
Jobs are the baby thrown out with the bath water. Many of us agreed to be app managed employees with no control of our future. These aren’t jobs — they are gigs.
I’ve spoken extensively over time about the need for shared value platforms and distributed ownership of network based economies (like Uber and Airbnb) — as at the systemic level, having a slice of ownership as an active value creator is vital too.
Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur or make it as an artist, but we should all have a share of the platforms we create with our cars, homes, and time. This is an extension of why shared ownership > access is so important. But more on that some other time.
What we really want is choice.
Having stable income and making smart investments is what separates those who are able to attain permanent financial freedom from those who are caught in an endless hedonic hell.
In other words, if you want to get to a point where you can make choices based on inspiration rather than necessity, these next decades will be the deciding factor.
Ownership, assets, savings and investments are central to a supportive, integrated future… a future that leaves room for even more experiences through financial freedom.
Stuff + ownership + experiences!
Please don’t ever stop having a good life.
But add stuff in the form of ownership back into the mix, especially with concern to income or appreciation generating assets like real estate.
Hint, hint: Buy a house, buy a house!
Even if you have to go overseas to do it. There are many options globally — especially as jobs change and remote work becomes more commonplace. And you know what? You don’t even need to live in the home you buy. You can rent it out — and keep that income to live where ever you want.
Ownership is more than a deed, it’s connected to financial and logistical freedom — which makes ownership a philosophy and realm all of its own.
You know what’s sexy? Not having to work. Being able to say no to contracts. Being able to actively participate in your community. Being at home with your kids. Painting because you feel like it. Taking a year off. Being able to take care of others. Learning guitar. Having all the experiences you want, whenever you want.
Let’s redefine our next decades as the generation who took back ownership — the generation demands to become part of the value equation in all ways.
We can have all the things!
Now, go buy a house.