What if I told you that accumulating material things actually isn’t as great as having experiences and creating memories? I’ve seen this first-hand, that’s how I know. The crazy thing is, a lot of people spend a huge portion of their lives chasing after material things in order to look cool or create a certain image for themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with wanting to own the latest iPhone or a reliable car. What I AM saying is that if accumulating material things and more stuff has become your sole purpose, you need to check yourself. Personally, I’d pick creating memories over material things any day!
When I was younger, I had a friend who always had the coolest toys and gadgets, but whenever we were planning a co-vacation, he never had the money for it! That’s the thing about prioritizing material things, the cycle never ends. There’ll always be a newer model on the market, a new color, a slight tweak here and there.
Basically, you’ll end up spending all your money on buying material things and never really live life and enjoy the things that matter.
I’m big on relationships, experiences and making memories, those things stay with you forever – unlike material things. This is something I learned from my experience with my friend, he became so consumed with keeping up with the Joneses and was never part of all the INSANE memories that we created. He’s not even in a single one of our pictures!
What are material things?
Material things are tangible goods that we tend to purchase in pursuit of happiness or thinking that they will give us some sort of lasting satisfaction. Unfortunately, that sense of joy can be fleeting. Imagine buying your dream car prematurely and then being stuck with monthly instalments that you can’t afford.
Yeah, it might’ve been nice when you were driving out of the dealership, but prepare to be miserable at the end of every month – or when you become blacklisted. Not-so nice. I’m all for buying things that make life easier or convenient, but not in excess.
Why do people love getting material things?
I wish there was one common answer to this – that would make this post a lot more concise – but there isn’t. One person might love getting material things because they make them feel important or they are trying to impress those around them, others might do it because getting a new watch may be a goal that’s easy to tick off – the reasons are endless, to be honest.
I know quite a few people that grew up with very little money, so their life goal became getting more money and buying more stuff. I guess to an extent, it gave them some sort of satisfaction and value, especially in proving their value to others through their material things.
Getting public validation is often a HUGE contributor to why some people might get fixated on material things, thinking that it will bring some sort of happiness. You know what will really make you happy though? Picking up your kids from school every day.
It sounds a bit cheesy, I know, but I get a kick out of spending time with my family – definitely more than I do when I buy more stuff!
20 reasons why material things won’t make you happier
I’ve obviously thought about this long and hard, and also looked at the experiences of those around me, and the conclusion I’ve come to is: MATERIAL THINGS WON’T MAKE YOU HAPPIER! Here’s why:
1 – More things = more work
Everything you have needs maintenance or has a lifespan. So, once you buy something, your next task is to keep it in good condition (great…). Let’s face it, if you keep buying more stuff, you’re actually signing up for more responsibilities.
On the other hand, if you get someone else to maintain your things for you… well, that’s a whole other expense on its own. People also aren’t as determined to keep your things in pristine condition as you. If you buy five new sports cars, they need to be serviced and looked after – things someone else might neglect. Yes, even if you pay them.
2 – It’s never-ending
Some people are borderline OBSESSED with gadgets and buying the latest ones on the market. That’s a financial downward spiral! Think about it, a new phone will be outdated in less than a year, BUT, nothing beats a bank account with endless zeros – enough for you to retire early. Now that’s something that feels good forever.
3 – It wastes time
Think about it, if you’re always looking for the next cool thing, you’ll never have time to do meaningful things. If you’re not working to buy more stuff, then you’re at the shops or constantly checking for new things online. When do you get time to spend with your kids, help them with their homework or go for walks?
4 – More things lead to more things
The more you have, the more you want. That’s human nature. Those that can’t develop self-discipline will just end up buying more and more material things. Also, some things require accessories, which means you may need to buy more things just to use what you already have! Crazy right? But that’s a sure way to keep you swiping that card.
5 – Someone else always has more
Of course someone else always has more! That’s why it’s important to be able to draw the line and decide what satisfies you. Accept it, you’ll probably never have ALL of the latest material things, and that’s okay. If you’re silently competing with those around you over stuff, you’re playing a losing game.
6 – You’d better not lose it
Speaking of losing things, there’s nothing worse than making a major purchase and then realizing (months or years down the line) that it’s actually a lot more hassle than it’s worth. Buyer’s remorse is a real thing, and in some cases, some people have to do all they can to avoid losing material things – mostly to stop people from talking.
I’m just glad that’s nothing I have to worry about.
7 – It makes you lose focus on what’s really important
The thing about material things is that they can be lost or damaged pretty much any time after purchase, whereas important things like family, love and purpose are forever. You’d find that someone that spends their weekends volunteering at a local orphanage could actually be a hundred times happier than someone who’s only chasing material things.
After all, life is for the living. What makes life worth living? It’s usually intangible things that you can’t really quantify.
8 – More stuff makes a mess!
I have this belief that people that call themselves collectors of something are just lowkey hoarders. And what do hoarders do? Accumulate material things and just build up clutter. I don’t care how big your home is, you won’t be able to just keep buying things and not declutter every now and then – that’s messy.
9 – You can find yourself in debt if you’re not careful
The minute you start chasing material things, you’d better make sure you can account for it and can actually afford it. Constantly buying things to maintain social status can become costly because you’ll end up not buying things because you need them, but rather to prove a point.
Extravagant purchases, especially, can dig really deep into your pocket and end up causing you more financial stress than bringing you happiness.
10 – It’ll attract the wrong crowd
It’s no real revelation that money and material things tend to draw people to you, often for the wrong reasons. That on its own adds another level of uncertainty and constant wariness of people’s true intentions.
11 – Short-lived excitement
It’s all sunshine and roses when you’ve just bought something that you’ve been eyeing for a while, but you know what? That excitement and happiness doesn’t last. You’ll find yourself getting bored soon after it and looking for something else to buy.
If your happiness is determined by possessions, then that can mean it comes and goes. That’s no way to live a truly fulfilling life.
12 – No time to actually use or enjoy your stuff
Picture this, you’ve got rooms full of really cool equipment and sports gear – but you’re never around to use them because you’re already looking at the next best thing. So, what’s the point of all these things that you’re buying? Just to show them off?
Personally, that’s my frustration with buying things just because you love the aesthetic but have no real use – or time – for them. Stop that!
13 – More stuff means higher expectations
When people associate you with a certain lifestyle, the upkeep can become expensive and people’s expectations can really become a burden. The concept of living according to other people’s standards is one I fail to understand because it’s YOUR life.
Whether it’s your family, friends or neighbors, you shouldn’t feel the need to keep buying things because that’s what they expect of you. Grow a backbone and do what makes YOU happy.
14 – It does very little for public validation
We live in such a flashy society and era (thanks social media), so people end up doing A WHOLE LOT just to prove their financial standing or get some sort of validation from the masses. That’s a very tiring and fake life if you ask me. You’ll never be happy if your sole purpose is to buy things that other people aspire to have just to look cool.
15 – Can be anxiety-inducing
The power of money in our lives can be scary when you think about it. A lot of people tie their happiness to money, which means that they are their happiest when they have money and vice versa. This can be dangerous in so many ways.
If you constantly buy things, you’re bound to see your bank balance decrease eventually. At some point, your expenditure will probably exceed your income and cause you to freak out!
16 – Keeping up with the Joneses can be tiring
There’s a difference between buying things because it’s what you truly want, and buying things to compete with those around you. In order to be more discerning and intentional about your purchases, you need to be clear about where you stand in that regard. Always trying to be one up over those around you can end up being a long and tiring game.
17 – You’ll be too fixated on possessions to live in the moment
When you think about it, it’s things like vacationing with your loved ones that truly make life worth living. If all your money is geared towards possessions, creating memories will probably not be on your priority list and that sucks!
18 – It’s a danger to the environment
Materialism is one of the things that will lead to us running out of resources – and soon! Some of the things that are popular amongst flashy people are within destructive industries, meaning that this culture of showing off and consumerism might just be our downfall and cost us all our happiness.
19 – It can make you unlikeable
People that are driven by material things can be borderline irritating and difficult to get along with. In fact, I find them shallow. I feel like you can’t even have a decent conversation about meaningful things without them bringing up the cost of their possessions and what they own and blah, blah, blah.
20 – Happiness can’t be bought
I’m sure we’ve all heard this because. Countless times too. That’s because it’s true. There are so many examples of people who had all the money in the world – or at least more than the average person – but they were still not happy.
It just goes to show that money and possessions don’t equate to happiness.
A plan to get out of the habit
General consensus is that it takes about 21 days to develop a habit – which means you can slowly turn your life around in just three weeks. Of course it’s not going to happen overnight, but getting into the habit of stop buying stuff can help you save a lot more. In fact, this ties in with living frugally and being more intentional about what you spend on and why.
The “why” is so important because that becomes your motivation to reach your financial goals. If buying a new gadget just because you like the look of it and you want to see it amongst the rest of your clutter has become the norm, that needs to change. Learn to take inventory and track progress towards your goals to see what’s actually holding you back.
TL;DR – Why material things won’t bring you happiness
If you’re caught up in a vicious cycle of constantly buying material things because you think more stuff will make you happy – think again. Chances are, this will leave you feeling empty and in debt. Use your money to go on holiday and make memories instead! It’s the intangible stuff and experiences that can truly make you happy and give you that fuzzy feeling inside.
Also read: How To Stop Buying Stuff. 20 Unique Ways to Change Your Spending Habits