Do you remember the first concert you attended? I do. The Tubes in 1983. I also remember just about every other concert. It’s interesting the things we remember and which ones we forget. If you read my weekly column, you know I am a big proponent of spending money on experiences instead of “stuff.” Yet many financial decisions are difficult: Do I put my surplus cash flow into college savings plans for my three kids, retirement savings, home improvements, or tickets to the Taylor Swift concert? This past month, I decided to invest in Taylor Swift tickets…and I am glad I did.
Concert Ticket Prices Have Skyrocketed
More about Taylor Swift in a moment, but first let’s just acknowledge that attending a concert can be an expensive endeavor. The cost of concert tickets has risen about 500% over the last 30 years, almost triple the rate of inflation. Concerts used to be underpriced, which made them an attractive target for scalpers, who would buy all the tickets and resell them at higher prices. The artists figured they should just charge more instead of leaving so much money on the table for ticket scalpers. One could easily see a parallel between the concert economy and the broader US economy, both of which have been disrupted by technology (bots buy up hundreds of tickets at a time) and driven by income inequality.
Back to Taylor Swift…
The tickets I bought to Taylor Swift were $160 each. Was it worth it? I’d say, “Heck, yes,” and here’s why. I don’t remember what clothes I was wearing in 1983, or what type of bike I had, but I remember going to The Tubes concert with my friend, Ellen Dendy.
I don’t know what my kids will remember thirty years from now, but I am pretty sure they will remember their first concert.
While we are on the topic of creating memories…let me ask you: What experiences will you remember 10, 20, or 30 years from now?
How to Get More Enjoyment from Your Spending Decisions
The research on how to get the most enjoyment (and create the best memories) from your spending decisions shows five key elements. Going to more concerts isn’t one of them specifically, but spending on experiences rather than material things is a biggie. The other four recommendations for happier spending are:
1) “Pay Now, Consume Later” – Anticipation adds to the enjoyment. So our Taylor Swift experience would have been less impactful if I had surprised my kids at the last minute. Instead, I told them a month before, so they had something to look forward to. On a similar note, when something is already paid for, it seems “free” when actually consumed. The lesson here is to pay for your vacation before you take the trip.
2) “Make It a Treat” – Anything that becomes routine or expected has less impact. Eating at a nice restaurant on your birthday is special…unless you eat at nice restaurants all the time.
3) “Buy Time” – One interesting insight from my article “How Much Is Your Time Worth?” was that 80% of people place a higher value on an hour of their free time than they earn per hour in their job. In other words, most people who make $50 per hour (after taxes) are not willing to give up an hour of free time for $50. So if you can hire someone to clean your house for $15, that’s a good investment in life satisfaction.
4) Invest in Others – Numerous studies have shown that spending money on others feels better than buying things for yourself.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to create memorable experiences. I remember every concert I’ve been to, but maybe concerts aren’t your thing. I also remember every camping trip (and camping is super-affordable). This realization inspired me to take the family camping for the first time this year.
Even my wife (Angela) loved camping, much to her surprise. The dogs came too.
I’d love to hear about the fun and memorable things you are doing and the spending decisions that have made you the happiest. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great week.