My investment strategy

I don’t live in a fancy house, or drive a fancy car, and you’re much more likely to find me shopping in TJ Maxx than in Nordstroms, but my family is rich in something that matters much more to me than material possessions – and that is experiences.

My kids have kayaked through mangrove swamps in The Keys, climbed waterfalls in Jamaica, and ziplined through the treetops in Alaska. They’ve been to a hockey game in Montreal, a musical in London’s West End, a “session” in a Dublin pub, and a wedding in Poland – and they are still in high school! The things that we’ve seen and done together as a family, the cultures we’ve experienced and the places that we’ve explored have opened our eyes, broadened our horizons, and built a treasure trove of memories that we will share forever.

Sure, my daughter probably would have preferred to have a designer handbag (or a car, for that matter) for her sixteenth birthday, but I can guarantee that she will never forget the weekend that she and her friends spent in New York City instead. And my son would certainly have preferred to find video games under the tree this Christmas instead of a trip to London and Paris with mom and dad, but even he was struck speechless by Notre Dame.

So I will continue to invest in experiences rather than things. And to “drag” my kids along with me every chance I get. Because my time with them is short (my daughter graduates next year, and my son will be right behind her) and I know that I am giving them a gift that’s far more valuable than any possession.

Who am I kidding, though, right? My husband and I probably get more out of it than the kids do! We’re the ones who will be sitting around some day reminiscing about New Year’s Eve on the Champs Elysees, and the time we watched glaciers calve from our balcony in Alaska, while the kids are off having new adventures of their own, with their own families. And maybe THAT is the biggest gift we’ve given them – the desire to see, and do, and explore rather than to acquire.

I hope so!

Turns out money CAN buy happiness, but only if you spend it correctly

According to a recent article in the New York Times, more money does not equate to greater happiness if that money is then spent on acquiring more things…but it DOES make people measurably happier if spent on experiences. Like, for example, a vacation!   Of course, I’ve known this all along, but it’s nice to see that experts now agree:

One major finding is that spending money for an experience — concert tickets, French lessons, sushi-rolling classes, a hotel room in Monaco — produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money on plain old stuff.  ” ‘It’s better to go on a vacation than buy a new couch’ is basically the idea,” says Professor Dunn…

According to the study, when we spend money on material things like cars, electronics and clothes, the pleasure is very short-lived; we soon move on to “needing” more and more things to keep the excitement going. When we invest in experiences, however, the happiness is long-lasting. We anticipate the experience, we live the experience, and then we get to reminisce and re-live it over and over again.

The other very exciting finding in the study was that you don’t need to blow it all on one big vacation in order to find peak happiness. A bunch of three-day weekends spread across the year might be even better for you than one two-week summer vacation. So, if you’d like to bring a little more happiness into your life, give me a call — we’ll get you started on a “vacation maintenance plan” 🙂

You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)