I recently returned from a short, weekend getaway with my parents, sibling and her family, and my own wife and children. The trip reminded me of the value of time shared with loved ones and the memories created with one another. It has caused me to be a bit nostalgic, reminiscing over past experiences and the memories created. This trip and my recent interest in the benefits of minimalism has helped me realize that most, if not all, of my favorite memories revolve around experiences with family and friends—not stuff.

As we played tourist throughout this recent weekend trip, I recalled similar trips as a child. I always thought I needed a souvenir, some trinket related to the experience that would hold my interest during the trip and briefly afterward before being lost or forgotten. The money I cost my parents and myself is embarrassing. Not that all souvenirs are wasteful, but the level my younger self took it to was unhealthy.

I still occasionally purchase items to help my family recall experiences, but today I’m more conscientious of that reflex to buy. As I watched my kids shop, they also were interested and no doubt wanted to get souvenirs as well. But, we didn’t dwell on the stuff and reminded them they didn’t need the stuff. Instead, we left the weekend with experiences with family and not baggage of cheap junk.

After the trip, I found my oldest daughter cutting out maps from the brochures of the places we visited. When I asked what she was doing, she informed me she wanted the maps for her and her sister to use as play maps. Again, this made me rethink how memories shape what we value. The trip was over, but it was the free tour guide pamphlets getting reused and re-purposed to create new memories and experiences for my children. It brought me joy to see she was unconcerned about stuff we didn’t buy and excited about her experience. The simple remnants of the trip itself inspired more imaginary adventures for her and her siblings. Money can’t buy precious memories made with those dearest to us.

We should give ourselves permission to spend money to have fulfilling experiences and to achieve personal and familial goals. The money we save by not always buying the “latest and greatest” will enable us to pursue those more fulfilling aspects of life. So, when you have the choice to spend money on an experience that will provide meaningful time with family or friends or to purchase the latest gadget, remember the experience will almost always provide longer-lasting, meaningful memories. As Joshua Field Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus (The Minimalists) are known for saying, “Love people; use things. The opposite never works.”

The Board of Retirement office is a resource for our denomination to help its members learn to use and invest money wisely, so they can spend their most valuable asset—time—to create memorable experiences with family, friends, and ministries. How can we assist you to prepare for a successful future ministry?


**Adapted from ONE Magazine