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Opinion: Elizabeth Davies says you regret the things you didn't do and cherish the things you did

Opinion: Elizabeth Davies says you regret the things you didn't do and cherish the things you did

By Elizabeth Davies

When I hit twenty my wish list started to gradually change into a bucket list. I noticed I stopped saving for designer shoes and started saving for experiences. I cut back on gathering possessions and started taking photos and stocking up my memory bank.

There’s something about entering young adulthood that grants you a sudden awareness of your own mortality. I’ve started to realise that while, yes, I’m still very young, no opportunity can be taken for granted and no experience is guaranteed to repeat itself later in life.

Over the weekend I met two girls in their early twenties who had spent a jaw-dropping $700 on VIP Beyonce tickets. I hastily masked my disbelief, attempting to justify that ridiculous amount. At first I was incredibly judgemental, condemning their purchase as reckless and irresponsible.

 When I eventually washed the taste of bitterness and jealousy out of my mouth, and climbed down off my moral high horse I began to reconsider their thought process.

How much would you pay for a once in a life time opportunity? The truth is, you would pay whatever you could afford. These girls were young, employed and financially free to buy an experience they valued so deeply.

As every OE bound Kiwi lad and lass will unhappily confirm, memories cost money. No one, however, will put their hand up and deny that the money is well spent. Individuals don’t just live the life they choose, they buy it.

In my opinion money is best spent on the senses. Use it to see beautiful things, listen to beautiful music, taste weird food, and feel the complete and utter exhilaration of doing something that terrifies you.

No one has the right to judge how others choose to spend their money. I’ve known young men to spend thousands on their cars. I don’t understand that at all. As far as I’m concerned if something gets you safely from A to B it’s doing its job and there’s no need for it to be lower, or faster, or shinier.

The reality is, I don’t have to understand it. When you’re young you work hard and you spend your money where it makes you most happy.

As I write this I do feel slightly hypocritical as I know I often speak about the importance of saving and sensible spending. It is definitely important to think about how you spend your money and in no way am I encouraging people to simply throw it away on drunken nights or extravagance.

I am, however, saying that this time of life,  early twenties, is about investing in the here and now while putting a little bit away for the way over there someday. It’s about growing up, and at the same time remembering that you’re still young.

When it comes to experiences, you only regret the things you don’t do, and you always cherish the memories of things you did.

At this time of life the only thing you can do is buy the ticket, and take the ride.

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*Elizabeth Davies is a 23 year old post graduate journalism student at Auckland University of Technology. She lives with her partner in Epsom and spends her free time refurbishing vintage furniture and attempting to bake while fighting a daily battle against her bank balance. She writes a weekly article for interest.co.nz on money matters and financial struggles from a young person's perspective.

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5 Comments

hi Elizabeth, you said to put a little bit away in your 20's.  I think it's a great time to put a LOT away in your twenties.  If you enter your 30's and you don't have a lot of money saved up, and then you get a big mortgage, a baby, then things are really tough.  You will have a lot more free time and fun if you start a family without being ridiculously in debt.
I have been following your column, and I think you might have it like I used to have it.  Which is not getting bankrolled by your parents, and graduating uni with a degree that doesnt guarantee a job.
What worked for me was realising I had just completed a fun but almost worthless degree.  A mistake.  Then switching careers, and going overseas.  There are heaps of opportunities you could get into, but they all aren't dream jobs, or cushy jobs.  But they did pay enough to be able to save NZ$40 grand a year without being a miser at all.  Do this for a few years, and you'll be on your way to financial freedom.
NZ is a great place, but it is WAY better when you have money to enjoy it.  The neverending NZ propaganda is infuriating.  The "NZ is the greatest place on Earth" lines are misleading.  The world is a massive place, and while NZ is good, there are heaps of other amazing places offshore, especially if you want to set yourself up financially.

I think you are confusing moral with artistic judgement.
 
It's quite OK to form the judgement that Beyonce has been propelled well beyond (beyonce?) her natural S-curve of popularity by a combination of clevver marketing, clever couture, and a generation of consumers who couldn't tell a Protool'ed performance from a cappela.
 
But I do agree that the enduring senses - Art and Architecture - are what make memories.
 
We went to Barcelona solely for Gaudi, and of course London, the capital of the world, always has something Arty goin' on plus has a bit of Architecture as well.

London the capital of the world? Really Waymad, in 2013?

I think for the arts London is still center of the world.

Money and experiences you say.
 
Our senses are always about us and have never depended on money. A world class violinist played for free on the subway during rush hour and only the children without money stopped to listen.
Money claims to place value on life and experience, but if that were true rich people would be the happiest people alive. In truth money is a fraud and its promise an illusion that solves none of life real challenges.
The road bereft of spirituality is a manic rush from one place and experience to the next, as if life can be collected like shells on a beach or consumed like a series of mini donuts, and it ends in an empty hollow place called 'jaded' and 'cynical'.
 
There is a place beyond fear; fear of missing out, fear of what others will think.