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Money, as I think we all realize, has no value in and of itself. Money can not feed you, shelter you or clothe you. Unless you burn it in a fire, it won’t keep you warm, and I doubt it burns well.  There are only four things that money can buy — possessions, services, experiences and feelings.

So Just What CAN Money Buy?

Money has no value in and of itself. It can not feed, shelter or clothe you. There are only four things money can buy.

Money Can Buy Possessions

Money can buy cars, clothes, homes and food. 

It can buy all of the “stuff” that modern society tells us we need – iPhones and game systems, SUVs and McMansions. 

However, it can also buy the necessities of life – and shelter, clothing and food are certainly necessities.  

Money can not buy you security, belonging or self-esteem

Clichéd as it may be, money can not buy us love. Money can help us meet our basic needs. After that, though, it is time to start looking at the other things for which we exchange money.

Money Can Buy Services

There are some services that most of us would consider basic needs. 

In our oil-based economy, electricity and phone service are necessary. 

Child care for those who work is necessary and most people can’t get it for free. 

Taxes (which is an exchange of money for services) is a necessity, unless we want some free room and board courtesy of the government. 

Insurance is frequently necessary. 

Are all services a necessity? 

There are times when paying for restaurant service is necessary. 

There are times – for example, when paying $100 per plate at an exclusive restaurant – when you are not paying for a possession (food) or a service (cooking and cleaning up), you are buying, or attempting to buy, a feeling

Again, there are people who hire housekeepers because they are paying for a service (cleaning), and there are others who are perfectly capable of cleaning their own homes but are attempting to buy a feeling. 

Money Can Buy Experiences

Money can buy experiences

Vacations, good food, quality time with friends

These can be a good use of money. 

Many people overpay, though, by not clearly identifying their purpose. There is no guarantee that the experience is worth the money spent. 

Are you truly looking for an experience, or are you actually looking for the feelings that you will attach to that experience?

Money Can Buy Feelings Indirectly

In the end, the first three come back to feelings. 

Belonging, love, security – money does not buy these directly. 

By buying possessions, services and experiences, we generate feelings. It is possible to spend a little and get lots of good feelings and memories or spend a lot without getting them.

When you spend money, identify the possessions, services and experiences that you are acquiring, and decide whether or not the feelings generated by these are worth the price that you are paying.

Sometimes the answer will be yes, and sometimes it will be no, but that answer will be different for every one of us.

Maximize feelings and minimize spending.

Years ago, I read an article about the four things that money buys, and I forgot to write down the source. I took notes, in very, very simple point form, and this is the recreated version, written from notes I took probably a decade ago. 

If it seems familiar to you and you know the piece from which I took the notes, please let me know! I’d love to give credit where it’s due.

Looking for more to read?

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Buying in Bulk Without Wasting Your Money

26 Ways to Prepare for a Low Energy World

Just Plain Living

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