A Millennial Who Cannot Afford to Participate in the Experience Economy…

Today a fellow graduate student informed me that she is spending three weeks in an expensive European city during winter break. I must admit, while I am Team Go You!, I started to question if I have been making poor financial decisions that do not allow me to do the same things.

To be fair, I know that I am not the stereotypical Millennial who throws caution to the wind in the name of ‘experience’. It is just not a part of my personality. Yes, I enjoy travelling for the same reasons that most people do and no, I do not have a compulsive shopping habit that I need to curb either. I simply just do not feel that I am in a position to make such large purchases. Even with a monthly budget!

So when people ask me for the umpteenth time, “Where are you going for winter break?” I sigh.

I sigh because I know that my answer is not going to be enough to satisfy the unquenchable wanderlust of my peers. I sigh because I do not want to make excuses for focusing on my priorities. None of which currently include jet-setting around the world and taking Snapchat/Instagram photos.

I get it—it is the holidays so while some people return home, others “winter” in tropical islands. But for people like me: we take weekend trips without sacrificing savings, paying bills, and other life essentials. Maybe I just was not meant for the YOLO (you only live once) lifestyle, but who cares? We all have to stay in the lane that works best for us. Luckily in this lane, I can still enjoy all of my peers’ stories of adventure.

So tomorrow, according to plan, we are headed to Montreal to celebrate our first year of marriage (and our puppy’s first birthday Dec 10th but obviously she is not coming with us, haha. Bonus points for this not being a mourn-cation like last year!) Technically, I am still involved in the ‘experience economy’ but it is certainly not as glamorous or without consequences as social media would have you believe.

I say this all to say: if you cannot afford to participate in certain ‘experiences’, it is a-okay. It does not mean that you are doing something wrong or that others are doing something right. You are just having different…experiences. 🙂

For an interesting look at the changing economy, see this Harvard Business Review article that was written in 1998 and how advertisers are finding millennials to be ‘trailblazers’ for new consumption habits across demographics. Pretty interesting stuff.