To Spend or Not To Spend: Experiences vs. Things

“Save your money for a rainy day!” How many times did you hear that growing up? Truth be told, I was never very good at that. I’ve always been a live-for-the-moment type of gal.  A Fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda thing. Go Hard or Go Home! used to be my motto. Ahhhh, youth.  ‘But what if I’m hit by a bus tomorrow??’ was often my reply.  I never saw my life in my mind’s eye as someone who would save, save, save – then finally at the ripe old age of 85, roll my wheelchair onto a cruise ship & try to have a good time.  As we know there is no guarantee we will even make it that far. What is the point of dying with a million bucks in the bank if you have a serious lack of experiences & memories of all the trips you took & fun you had? What if something happens to me before I can enjoy the fruits of my labor? According to my mom, I was supposed to work, work, work & save, save, save. Now, I know it’s all about balance; but back then …

I’m glad I didn’t listen. The experiences made my life richer in so many ways.

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Fill your life with amazing experiences, not stuff.

“A 20-year study conducted by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, reached a powerful and straightforward conclusion: Don’t spend your money on things. The trouble with things is that the happiness they provide fades quickly. There are three critical reasons for this:

• We get used to new possessions. What once seemed novel and exciting quickly becomes the norm.

• We keep raising the bar. New purchases lead to new expectations. As soon as we get used to a new possession, we look for an even better one.

• The Joneses are always lurking nearby. Possessions, by their nature, foster comparisons. We buy a new car and are thrilled with it until a friend buys a better one—and there’s always someone with a better one.”*

*Source: Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things  by TravisBradberry


In this image-driven world, buying nice things = status.  The house, the car, the vacation home, thousand dollar shoes, five thousand dollar handbags, only the ‘best’, the best of everything.  The brand MUST be clearly visible to all – must show the people they’re cool & rich. “Prada” “Louis Vuitton.” Ugh.  

Worn like a badge of insecurity.

To me, it screams, ‘Please like me’, ‘Please accept me.’  I, on the other hand, would take that $1000 and spend it on ten $100 items rather than just the one. Seems way more practical.  After all, they’re just things, & we can’t take any of these things with us when we cross over. A lot of the time they want more, more, more – it’s not enough – it’s never enough. That’s because things will never satisfy you the way experiences will. They will not bring you happiness. Outside things cannot bring you happiness. Happiness is a decision. Experiences, on the other hand, give us joy, teach us, helps us grow & create wonderful memories 💖 I will always choose an Experience over a Thing, 8 days a week & twice on Sunday 😎

I remember when I used to be insecure. I do remember what it was like before I woke up. Before I grew into myself. Timid & insecure – I just wanted to be liked & accepted too – until I found myself & grew some confidence. Eventually, you get to the point where you realize you don’t need to be liked or accepted.

You must like & accept yourself, it all starts with Self-Love 💖


I left home at 17, in 1989 – 28 years ago.  Wow! Looking back, I was clueless on what direction to take, and pretty clueless in general. That was long before the wisdom finally set in. I was lost, without knowing I was lost. But, it was the beginning of the road that would get me there. And I wouldn’t change a thing!

I bounced around a couple of jobs & roommates, & after working in a few little cafes here & there – in 1994 I landed a very respectable job in an accounting firm. Not bad for someone with only a high school diploma! I started in January, and on my very first day, my grandmother died.  My mom called me at work, & they actually let me leave the office after having been there less than an hour.  She was sick. It was a rough start to the year & the job 😦


I shined at work – I felt so important getting all dressed up in those corporate duds. I settled in nicely & learned the ropes. In no time, after only a few months, I was eager for more & began helping the accounts payable guy with his work; he taught me the basics & I’m a quick study. At my 6 month mark, the AP guy got fired.  As soon as I heard, I marched into my boss’ office & asked for the job.  I confessed that I had been secretly helping him for a few months so I already knew the job. ‘Give me a shot’, I pleaded. He did. I wound up doing AP for them for the next 3 years. It was great – people were almost always happy to hear from me – I was giving them money.  The only time they weren’t was if I didn’t approve something they tried to sneak through their expense reports! It was great while it lasted.  But after 3 years I grew tired, weary. Fed up of office politics & fed up of seeing the same people day in & day out. Whether you like them or not, in an office setting, you’re stuck with them.

And then, IT happened – I saw a movie that literally changed my life.


I’m sure you all remember the movie “Cocktail” with Tom Cruise & Elizabeth Shue?  That movie literally changed my life! Seriously! There he was, behind a bar on the magnificent beaches of Jamaica.  ‘People do that??’ I asked. I was amazed. In complete awe. I was about 20 at the time – not ready to chuck it all & take off – but the seed was planted 🙂 It took me a few more years to turn the dream into reality, but I did. And it was the most amazing experience of my life.  It opened the door to many more ‘most amazing experiences’ in my life.

I always tell any young adult who will listen: “Do it. Take off. Travel. It will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.”  It will open your eyes, your heart & your soul. Different places, cultures, languages, people. Doors will open that you never knew existed.  All kinds of forks in the roads. It will help you grow, evolve, mature & gain wisdom.  

I forgot about that movie for a couple of years – but since the seed was planted – I did something that brought that memory back to the forefront of my mind. In 1996, the year before I left the firm, I took my first ever Caribbean vacation. Sitting in front of the agent at the travel agency, with an ear-to-ear smile, I said, ‘Send me somewhere hot, with palm trees, hammocks & magnificent beaches please!’ Her suggestion, since I was going solo – which is my favorite way to travel btw – was the Tryp hotel in Cayo Coco, Cuba.  ‘Sold!’, I said & booked.

The seed that was planted sprouted immediately when I first saw the glorious tropical beaches, & especially the staff. They were playing beach volleyball with guests, having drinks or dinner with guests – seemingly socializing most of the day – one would think they were on vacation rather than at work. This reminded me of Tom Cruise’s character’s Jamaica bartending stint.  ‘My God, these are actual jobs!! People get paid for this?’ A whole new world opened up to me.  Talk about expanding my horizons!

Finally – I found my calling! After the most incredible week of my life at that point – I went back home on a mission. I would make it happen. I was 26, single & kid-less, ‘There’ll never be a better time than now!’


My Dream Job 💖

When I returned to Canada, I decided to take a bartending course at the Master School of Bartending here in Montreal. I was working at the firm M-F & taking the class a couple nights a week for a couple of months. My first night there, the very first class, the teacher said something that made my eyes light up & set my soul on fire 💥

“Many of my students were able to find employment abroad, on cruise ships, resorts & Club Med’s.” 

‘I’m sorry, WHAT??’  Did I just hear him correctly?  Holy crap! Looking back, everything was lining up. I was meant to take that path. I didn’t know it at the time, but now with everything that happened afterwards, it all makes sense. The beginning of my Spiritual Evolution 🙂


With my diploma in hand – I scored the best score I’ve ever scored in any class ever – a 97% – I found the Club Med site online. Now this was 1994, so the Internet was still new-ish to me.  I excitedly filled out their online application, & waited. It didn’t take very long for them to contact me. I was asked to come in for an interview & surprisingly (at the time- not anymore) it was in the same building my firm was in, but on a different floor. The interview lasted all of about 10 minutes. I was asked 2 questions:

1) ‘Are you bilingual?’ (English & French) & 2) ‘Do you have a valid passport?’  ‘Yes! & Yes! I mentioned that I was almost trilingual – I took a Spanish course somewhere in the middle of my stint at the firm, sometime after my Cuba trip.  Listening to the Cubans speak Spanish was music to my ears. Every time they spoke, it sounded like a song! Beautiful. 💖 ‘La idioma de l’amor!’ I quickly learned.  And that was it! I was told to go home & that I would receive a call in a couple of days. Not even three hours later, I got the call. THE Call.

“Pack your bags, you leave in three days!”  THREE DAYS!!  

You’re off to the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas!”  SAY WHAT ?!?! 

The next 3 days were surreal. I did a major de-cluttering of all my things. I was, after all, never coming back.  Goodbye Canada, goodbye sub-zero temperatures. I’m a Canadian Girl with A Carribean Soul & I’m going home!!

The beginning of the rest of my life! Stay tuned for the next part of the story!


imagesJoy


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