I have a confession… I made a bad financial decision this weekend. I took a generally free activity – running – and spent a lot of money on it. This weekend I ran a half marathon. And though I generally write about saving money on this blog, I thought the experience was worth every penny.
Be warned – this post is a corny one, about the value of experiences vs. money. For those of you still along for the ride, let’s do a little MasterCard breakdown:
- $90 – Race Entry Fee
- $120 – New running shoes after I wore out my old pair
- $24 – Running fanny pack (I’m soo cool)
- $15 – Energy gels and drinks
- $12 – Running socks
- $22 – Uber to and from the race (believe it or not I got surge pricing at 6 am)
- Total: $283
The value to me? Priceless. Because this weekend I accomplished something I didn’t know was possible.
I’m not built to run. I’m slow, injury-prone, and so clumsy, I trip on air. Running has never been easy or fun for me. But given my lack of any other athletic coordination, joining the cross-country team was my only option to fulfill the sports requirement in high school.
This led to my most embarrassing moment ever – finishing last place in a cross country race in 10th grade. With a mile left, I realized I was running in last place. I was tempted to drop out and avoid the embarrassment of finishing last, but I couldn’t bring myself to quit. Instead, I crossed the finish line last with all of my teammates watching. I still cringe thinking about it.
Though I hated running in high school, I kept running during college, in a bid to keep down my studying stress and ward off the dreaded Freshman 15. When I started running by myself in college, without any pressures of team practices, I found that I actually loved running. I was still slow, but I kept going.
That said, my running stayed pretty amateur, and up until this year the longest I had ever run was 10 miles – one time. But when my good friend Kerry asked me to run a half marathon with her this fall, I hesitantly said yes so I could finally check a race off my bucket list.
Shortly after, I realized it was THE WORST DECISION EVER. My long training runs were so painful. I thought about selling my bib so many times, but I didn’t want to quit on my friend.
And then something amazing happened this weekend. I ran the half marathon – and it was amazing! Not only did I run the whole course, but I ran it at a faster pace than I’ve ever run anything in my life. I felt on top of the world when I finished. Running it was THE BEST DECISION EVER.
So if you ask me, the $283 I spent was so worth it, because it taught me an invaluable lesson. I love running because it’s ultimate test of how far you can push yourself before you quit. And this weekend I found that sometimes I underestimate just how far I’m capable of going.
So what’s the financial takeaway? Studies show that spending your money on experiences, rather than things, leads to more happiness. I couldn’t agree more. While you should stay frugal in certain areas, don’t be afraid to spend money (within your budget) on meaningful experiences.