Which is Worse: Feeling Guilty About a Spending or Regretting Missing Out On An Experience?

A lot of people feel bad about making everyday purchases. Want a new pair of shoes? That’ll be $50 and a little bit of guilt.

Even when we buy something we can’t really afford or purchase something we don’t need, it doesn’t take long to get over that guilt. Unless it makes a serious dent in our bank account or on our credit card, we’ll likely forget it soon, even though we know at the time that it’s not a wise financial decision.

In these cases, we know what we SHOULD do, we just don’t always do it.

But what if the decision wasn’t so easy? What if the cost of NOT buying something cost more than the purchase itself?

The best example of this is experiences. This winter, Lauren and I will be going to Cancun and one thing we’re considering doing while we’re there is swimming with dolphins. It sounds awesome, but it’s also not cheap at all. It definitely is a significant cost, but it would probably be an amazing experience.

So which is worse, a relatively short term pain of spending the money or the possibly long-term regret of not spending the money?

I think there’s nothing worse than missing an experience. Have you ever had all your friends talk about that one epic night they went out and you missed it? What would you pay in retrospect to have been there?

Like a lot of people, I sometimes experience FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). But how do you reduce your chances of missing out on fun experiences without spending all your money?

Lauren and I decided that swimming with dolphins is one experience we did not want to give up.

Readers, which is worse, feeling short-term guilt about a purchase or having to live with missing an event for the rest of your life?

18 Responses to Which is Worse: Feeling Guilty About a Spending or Regretting Missing Out On An Experience?

  1. Bridget says:

    I suffer from huuuuuge FOMO. I spend a lot I money just to enjoy myself. I normally don’t feel guilty until I ready a serious post on another PF blog lol. I’m actually writing a post about this too.. You have to enjoy your money, that’s what it’s for

    • personalfinancenow says:

      @Bridget, I couldn’t agree with you more, i mean what’s the point of working your ass too hard and not rewarding yourself at the end of the day, right? you have to give yourself a treat although not to the extent of wasting money for nothing. And there is always room for your savings as that is a must.

  2. Crystal @ Prairie Ecothrifter says:

    We prioritize our wants and make sure to include the most important ones in our budget. So far, we’ve never skipped out on something and regretted it. But we also have skipped out on a ton to afford something we wanted more…but no regrets because we got what we really wanted. :-)

  3. I’d be more worried about the consequences of running out of money than I would be about missing out on the dolphins. But that’s just me.

    • Daniel says:

      @W at Off-Road Finance, That’s the thing, we’re not worried about running out of money, the dolphin package won’t affect us negatively in the short-term. But it’s not cheap, so too many things like this will hinder our future savings efforts.

  4. Christian L. says:

    Daniel,
    I’d always rather have done something than not. But I won’t do it if I think I’ll feel guilty after. So from time to time I’m content knowing I’ll have to hear all the party stories from when I wasn’t there.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

  5. Dude,
    I know exactly what you mean. On my honeymoon, there were plenty of times that we were faced with spending on something that we didnt plan, or missing out on something that seemed really cool. In most instances, we just decided to spend the cash. We cut back in other areas to make up for it, but I’ll never forget cruising down the chao phara river with my fiancee, eating dinner, talking and enjoying the views.

    • Daniel says:

      @Sustainable Living Blog, Yah, I feel like I’m going to want to spend on everything to make it super enjoyable. But I’m also afraid of coming back to a huge bill! Sometimes I just can’t say no if it means making her happy..

  6. Evan says:

    Like everything in life there is a balance. I regret not spending MORE on my honeymoon (and we spent around 10K)…The money came in we paid the bills but when is the next time The Wife and I are going to get our butts to Greece? Enjoy the dolphins!

    The problem is when you/anyone starts to take that happiness thing too far. I have a buddy who is a Dr. (great income but LOVES to spend) when he was talking about money the other day he asked how do I save more, I said drop the boat. He looked at me like I asked to kill his first born son for a few sheckles.

    Balance it out!

  7. Thomas S. Moore says:

    I am torn on this one since it seems that everyone is a little different. For me I don’t buy things that often so something like missing out on a pair of shoes might have been the 1 thing I would have bought all year. For others they buy shoes, clothes and things every other day. I would call it missing out if you spend frequently. If you just got back from a trip is it really missing an experience if you choose not to go on another expensive trip next month?

  8. Emily @ evolvingPF says:

    I used to have FOMO during high school regarding social events, but thankfully I got over that/my life calmed down – it was exhausting!

    I would rather sacrifice in the short-term to pay for an awesome experience than forgo it. If it’s not possible to scrounge up the cash then it’s just not possible but we’ll do everything we can to make it happen.

  9. Sandra says:

    I totally understand how you feel. I have lived the life of spending in order not to miss out. Fortunately, I have realized just in time that I need to plan ahead and save for future use. I don’t plan to miss out on a lot of things, but I plan to choose the best and most satisfying way on where to spend my money.

  10. Jana @ Daily Money Shot says:

    What a great question. Personally, I’d never regret spending the money on swimming with dolphins. Ever. I’m actually upset that my husband and I couldn’t afford to do it on our honeymoon. So I didn’t suffer from FOMO; I actually lived it. And it sucks.

    Experiences create lifetime memories and are worth the money. However, spending money on that cute pair of shoes because I feel like they won’t be there the next time I go shopping? That’s a FOMO situation I can live with.

  11. Ornella @ Moneylicious says:

    Or maybe we can blame it on our endorphins that released as we enjoy our shopping moments. And then some of us crash later when we check out the bank account to see that we may have overspent…the headache!

  12. I actually ‘swam’ with dolphins as a teenager and I found it surprisingly scary, much like the time I visited a Colombian ostrich farm. They are powerful and you’re on their turf. My anxiety went through the roof! I had no idea.

    Not to say you should not do it. :) I don’t regret doing either activity. My boyfriend and I have been struggling with some FOMO as well. Like you, we have the money currently, but we’ve been saving every penny for starting our organic farming business. Every dollar we spend now is one we won’t have in the future. I try to focus on what I’ll be gaining by spending the money and forget what I’m losing. At the end of the day, money is meant to be spent!

  13. eemusings says:

    Ugh, talk about a lose-lose choice!

    Both are pretty painful, but the experience is probably worse. I definitely suffer from FOMO and I’m a big believer in the value of experiences (ESPECIALLY travel) that go beyond the monetary cost.

  14. Vangile Makwakwa says:

    Totally missing out on an experience is worse. What if that experience changes you entire life? Some experiences do have that drastic impact on your life and not opening yourself up to them could stop you from something magical. What’s the point of saving and holding onto money if you’re never going to spend some of it to do things that give you joy?

  15. Nancy Jones says:

    So swim with the dolphins this time, because knowing the price you can include it in the budget. If you have to forego something this trip, add it to the next trip’s budget. And make sure that there is a next trip by living wisely till then.

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