The Best Way to Spend Money on Your Kids? Give Them Experiences, Not Stuff

As a parent you no doubt have spent lots of sleepless night wondering how to give your kids the best life possible. Here’s one big answer: stop buying them so many things and instead take that money and give them great, exciting experiences. Research shows they will remember special events and family adventures longer and relive the joy and excitement again and again.

Do Children Really Need More Things?

Often if you ask adults about their goals and desires, many of them want to accumulate things. More stuff. More cars. Bigger houses. Fancier clothes. And that influence rubs off on their kids too. The kids grow up believing that if they get the latest video game console, the most dolls, the biggest, most expensive teddy bears, it will make them happy.

Most of the time it never does, they play with them for a while, get bored and then start hankering after something new. Just like their parents may have got that new car they wanted but now there’s a better, fancier car they have their eyes on and the one they wanted for so long just isn’t enough.

Stuff won’t make you happy for long. Of course, it is hard to explain it to kids when their own parents do not understand it either and just keep trying to make them happy by buying them things

Experiences Last Longer than Things

So what is the best way to spend money on your kids? Always choose to get them an experience, rather than possessions. In the battle between possession and experience, experience always wins!

Researchers Tom Gilovich and Travis Carter conducted several studies over two years. They concluded from that research that giving children experiences brings more long-term enjoyment than buying material possessions. They claim that memories are more valuable than our purchases. But they really did not need to write a research paper to tell us that.

Ask an adult about doll they had when they were ten and they might be able to give you a few vague details. Ask an adult about the holiday they went on that year with their family and if they did go on one, nine times out of ten they will still be able to remember it well, and they will be happy memories too.

Great Experiences to Offer Your Kids

Beach holidays are nice, but they are far from the only great experiences you can offer your kids. They also tend to be annual occasions, and if you are going to cut down on the amount of material stuff you gift your children to be fair the experiences you provide in place of it should be more frequent than that.

Often the best family adventures and experiences are actually the simplest, and yet because they are inexpensive (so no big money worries) and casual they are also often the best remembered. Not sure what you could do? Here are just a few ideas:

  • Make a resolution to visit at least one local museum or art gallery a month. Wherever you live they are usually in plentiful supply and not only do you get to spend a great day together as a family you will all get to learn something new as well.
  • Take a simple picnic lunch to a park on a nice afternoon. Just sandwiches and whatever else you have in your pantry that travels well will do. Add a few blankets to sit on and maybe a little money for ice cream (if everyone’s good) and you can have a simple, family day in the sun, stress-free.
  • Go for a Bike ride.
  • Go on a Pokemon Go adventure. Even if the adults are losing interest in this game now lots of kids aren’t. Take walks around an area in your community that has a lot of stops, gyms, and Pokemon! Work together to collect items catch some new Pokemon. Make it a bit of a friendly competition. And here’s an extra bonus. At every Pokestop the game displays information about the stop’s location, and some of it is actually fascinating and very educational indeed.
  • Start a new book series together. Read one at a time together until you’ve read them all! The books should be read as a family though, with everyone taking turns to read passages out loud. They should also, of course, be age appropriate but as there are an abundance of good books out there for kids of all ages that should not be too hard to find.
  • Game night! Pick a game that your whole family can play together. Yes, it can be a video game – as long as it is multiplayer and appropriate.
  • Get outside and organise whole family water gun fights.
  • Find a TV series that you all enjoy and watch it together regularly.
  • Roast hot dogs or smores over a fire.
  • Make homemade cookies together
  • Do art projects together
  • Teach the kids games you played as a kid. Hopscotch, marbles, pick-up-sticks, card games, anything
  • Make popcorn and enjoy a movie with the whole family
  • Play a sport outside for fun. Frisbee, cricket, soccer, mini golf, whatever you like

As you can see, all of these ideas are simple and inexpensive but they will be remembered. And long after you kids have forgotten what used to be in their toy box or closet at the same age.