To Spend $1000 on Material Happiness or to Collect Experiences?

Material Happiness or Experiences?

Termed as the ‘future of smartphones,’ iPhone X – Apple’s $1000 smartphone – is making news these days. Everyone is talking about amazing things this phone can do and why you should (or should not) buy one. I just read that Apple is on its way to becoming the first $1 trillion company. The success of iPhone X is said to help the company reach this milestone in coming months.

I have been an admirer of technology since my childhood days. Growing up in the 90s, I grew up simultaneously with inventions like computers, internet, pagers, and mobile phones among others. I remember the first day I used a computer in school and how fascinated I was. Today, just a laptop with an internet connection enables me to be what they refer to as a ‘digital nomad’ and do my work from anywhere.

As I am writing this article on my laptop, a smartphone sits on my table. This small piece of technology is something we can’t live without these days (or so we think). Connect it to the internet and you have the whole world right in your hands.

Coincidentally, I am reading Becoming Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli these days. Through the nearly 300 pages I have read, I have come to understand Mr. Jobs’ vision, passion, and dedication towards making Apple one of the most admired companies of our time.

So, when Apple bets its future on a $1000 smartphone, I can’t help but think whether I or anyone else should buy this phone or spend that money on something better? Should you spend your money to buy material happiness or to collect real-life experiences? In this article, I share my views on the subject.

A $1000 Phone: Luxury or Necessity?

Bringing quality products at a price higher than others is the Apple we have known for years. Being an ‘out of the box’ thinker and marketer, Mr. Jobs knew what ‘cool’ meant. With the launch of iPhone X, Apple’s goal is not to reach everyone’s hands but to remain ‘cool.’ They have faith in their fans and loyal customers who queue-up every time a new phone is launched.

I like Andy Warhol’s Coca-Cola example mentioned by Matthew Yglesias in a Vox article about iPhone X. Although they have ‘premium’ price, Apple’s products are still intended to be mass market products unlike Vertu – whose phones were aimed at a few luxury customers. It’s safe to assume that other companies will want to follow Apple’s success with a mass market luxury phone sooner or later.

Beautiful Nepali Girls Taking Selfie

My first phone – a Nokia 1100 – cost my parents less than $50. My second phone was an iPhone 3Gs, followed by an iPhone 4s. I have been using iPhones for 8 years. My five years old iPhone 4s has been slow for a while but works as intended. And even though I am not a ‘fanboy,’ I admit that I do love Apple’s products.

But a $1000 phone is a luxury, not a necessity for me and for many. Not buying a brand new phone is a matter of choice and priority rather than affordability for me. I don’t know how to react when I read reports of teenagers selling their kidneys to buy a phone. I believe that we are giving pieces of electronics more attention and importance than they deserve.

$1000 on Material Happiness or Experiences?

For so many people around the world, a thousand bucks might not be so much of a big deal. But growing up in a middle-class family, I know its value very well.

There have been times when I had less than $200 left in my bank account. Right now, I can spare a thousand bucks to gift my self a brand-new phone. I know doing so will make me happy. But I also know that this is material happiness and it won’t last even a full year – just 365 days, that is.

Parvezish at Shuklaphanta National Park in Nepal
Exploring the jungle in Nepal

On the other hand, I can book a ticket to a new destination and get lost somewhere I have never been. My most recent trips were to Nepal and Bhutan. The experiences I have had during these trips were exceptional. Be it exploring the jungle, staying in a cheap roadside hotel, or spending a day at a Buddhist monastery – my experience just keeps getting better. I have made friends and have places I could call home. How much did a trip from India to Nepal and Bhutan cost me? Not even thousand dollars.

A quick search will help you find many return tickets that cost way less than $1000. For example, Delhi to Amsterdam return ticket for February 2018 shall cost you $570. You can fly from Delhi to Dubai and come back for around $200. Flying from New York to Dubai or Tokyo shall cost you around $500.

Collecting Experiences

In fact, you don’t have to fly to another country at all. You can go on a road trip in your own country and collect experiences. It will help you discover more about your country, too.

And when I say ‘collect experiences,’ I don’t mean you must start traveling to do so. Do charity, volunteer for a good cause, sponsor someone’s food or education, wander around the streets of your city, do people-watching, talk to strangers, make people smile, surprise your friends and family just for no reason – every little thing you can do will help you collect an experience you will never forget. That too, without leaving your country or spending a fortune.

$1000 Goes A Long Way

A thousand bucks will go a long way in many parts of the world. In countries like India, thousand dollars would be a few months’ salary for many people. In many parts of the world, it could buy someone the whole year’s food supply or education. There are millions of people around the world who might never have $1000 lying with them at any given time.

If you could spare a thousand bucks, you could invest it wisely and watch it grow. You can invest your money in an IRA account in the US or a PPF account in India, for example. Your $1000 can be a good amount to invest in the stock market, too.

A Nepali Woman Dancing to Folk Music at Ropain Festival
A Nepali Woman Dancing to Folk Music at Rice Planting Festival

I have worked hard for my thousand dollars and I have no intention of spending it over material happiness. I believe in collecting moments, collecting experiences. So I would rather spend my money on traveling which will give me an experience I would remember for a long time – possibly forever.

The excitement of buying a new phone or another gadget doesn’t last long on the other hand. A phone becomes older as soon as a new model comes out. We are led to believe we must ‘upgrade’ our phones and keep spending our money but it doesn’t make sense to me at all.

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What’s Your Take?

My thousand dollars are safely invested and I am using them to collect experiences. I am happy with my old phone but I know I will need a new one soon. It will be an iPhone, I am sure about that, too. But I will be saving my money by buying an old model and that too, during discount period. Christmas is coming soon I have heard?

If you are capable of spending thousand dollars on a phone, you definitely should. I mean, why not? But do spend some of your money and time on experiences, too. Go out and see the world around you in reality, not virtually. Go ahead and be an explorer. The world is bigger than we can see on our phone screens.

If you had to choose between a $1000 smartphone or a trip of a lifetime, what would you choose? Material happiness or real experiences? What’s your take? Do share your thoughts with me.

That’s it, folks. This was Parvez and you were reading To Spend $1000 on Material Happiness or to Collect Experiences? on I hope you liked this article and I would like to thank you for reading.

  1. I always enjoy reading your articles. I really admire you as a fantastic travel blogger.
    I will be glad to see you next time you come to Pokhara.
    My contact number is 9824125164. I live in Pokhara with my family.
    LB Thapa
    Pokhara, Nepal

  2. Yes I have also thought on similar lines. Leaving a routine world behind and investing in experiences is best. However, the worry of who will feed my dependents doesn’t all most to do what they want.

    1. Hi Mandar. As the article suggests, you don’t really need to leave your life (and responsibilities) behind to collect experiences. Also, money is important indeed. But if I had just $1000 I could spend, the choice between collecting experiences and buying a $1000 phone would be very clear for me.

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