Life is about Experiences, not Money

Yesterday, I ran the Twin Cities Marathon for the third time. I’m not an elite runner, so my goal isn’t to win, but to simply finish with the best time possible. But I approached this one a bit differently than the previous two. I wanted it to be about more than just an internal struggle to finish. I wanted to fully experience everything the marathon had to offer.

Marathons across the United States have become more than just a race, they have become events with cheer zones, bands playing along the way, people dressed up in costumes and spectators with funny signs to lift the spirits of everyone.

I talked with a man next to me in the starting corral who was holding an American Flag on a pole. He does it a couple of times a year to show support for the greatest country on planet Earth.

I wished a young woman a happy birthday who was wearing a shirt advertising she was running a marathon on her 21st.

I laughed at humorous signs held by spectators  that said things like “This parade sucks!” and “Has anyone seen the beer tent?”

I gave countless high fives to people including a little boy who was around 5 years old. His smile rivaled the Grand Canyon as I zipped across the street to slap his hand as I had watched runner after runner go by him ignoring his outstretched arm.

I didn’t just “do” a marathon yesterday, I fully experienced the 31st running of the Twin Cities Marathon.

I approach life much like how I approached the marathon. Even though I’m in debt, I want to fully experience life. Like everyone else, I have financial commitments that need to be paid each and every month including a mortgage, a car payment, utilities and a payment to my debt management plan. Most people don’t have the last one on their list but just because I do shouldn’t disqualify me from using discretionary funds as I chose.

I may buy an expensive cut of meat and make my wife beef Wellington for Valentine’s day.

I may save up money and take my family on a vacation.

I may even splurge on throwing a party for 80 of my closest friends and family.

As long as I’ve met my financial commitments, saved up enough funds, and it all fits within the budget, I’ll sleep easily at night. My wife and I racked up huge debt by living in excess for years, and we’re living with the consequences of that by paying on that debt every month. But it’s equally important for us to learn to live within our means while still doing fun things. Because for us, life is about memories and surrounding ourselves with people that share the same perspective. That’s not going to change.

Yesterday, I finished the marathon in 4 hours, 5 minutes, and 47 seconds. I missed logging a new personal record by 6 seconds.

6 seconds!

I may feel a little disappointed now, but in 20 years I won’t remember my time, nor will I care. But I will remember the smile on that little boy’s face when I slapped his little red gloved hand, and I’ll have the pictures I stopped to take of a man in a banana costume, and the view of the finish line at mile marker 26.

Those experiences far outweigh my race time. I can run another marathon and get a better time, but I only have one shot at life.

I don’t want to just “do” life. I want to live it. Love it. Experience it.

About Travis

18 Responses to “Life is about Experiences, not Money”

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  1. Brad Chaffee says:

    Travis what a great accomplishment my friend! I enjoyed following your progress throughout the race. I hope to run a marathon one day and when I do I’m sure I’ll have the same approach. Not really interested in winning I just want to experience and accomplish something great. I want to prove that I can do it!! When I do I’ll remember the day my good buddy inspired me to make it happen. 🙂

    • Travis says:

      Honest truth, seeing that finish line, and crossing it is a feeling like none other, my friend. If I know you, you’ll make it happen – nothing stops Chaffeemania! LOL.

  2. Alexa says:

    Hey Travis!

    Congrats on running and finishing the marathon. I did the Chicago half marathon this year and it was such a wonderful experience. I might have been dehydrated but the fact that total strangers are cheering you on just constantly brought tears to my eyes as I ran.

    I totally agree with you about enjoy life despite the numbers in your bank account. I’m planning on moving to LA soon and although I’m nervous about finding a job and paying rent, I know the experience with worth more than any decimal in my checking account.

    Thanks so much for this post. It’s always great to start the day with a smile and positive vibes. Hope you have a fantastic day!

    • Travis says:

      Congrats on your half marathon, Alexa – that is an awesome accomplishment. Having so many spectators cheer us on is such a wonderful part of the race – I can tell that you too truly “experienced” your run!

      Moving to LA is quite an adventure….I hope you enjoy every second of it, have experiences and make memories that last the rest of your life – Good Luck! I’d love to have you stop back and tell a story or two. 🙂

  3. Andi says:

    /” Even though I’m in debt, I want to fully experience life….As long as I’ve met my financial commitments, saved up enough funds, and it all fits within the budget, I’ll sleep easily at night.”/

    So true, so true. I haven’t ran any marathons, but finding this balance has been the hardest thing for me. I keep oscillating between punishing myself with zero fun spending to abandoning everything and living a little too cavalierly. Time and time again, the balance comes after meeting my financial commitments and budgeting the rest.

    Live life, love life, and focus on what’s truly important. Thanks for always writing such positive and insightful posts!

    • Travis says:

      It’s always great to hear from a fellow Minnesotan, Andi! Finding that balance is definitely a challenge, and I admit my wife and I have some difficulty in finding it as well. Good luck to us both in finding it permanently, heh? 🙂

  4. Honey Smith says:

    This. I have about $100K in student loan debt and make $40,000 per year – no way am I eliminating discretionary spending completely! I’d go crazy.

    • Travis says:

      If you can find someway to really enjoy life while staying on budget….I say DO IT! There are some that are in debt that want to apply every accessible dollar to their debt to eliminate it as quickly as possible…..I say Kudos to them……that’s obviously admirable, and they are made of stronger stuff than I am. I just choose to take a slightly different path, and it sounds like I’m not the only one! Thanks for your comment Honey Smith!

  5. Travis, a realistic and awesome perspective to have on life and money. If our money doesn’t allow us to express our faith and enjoy our family then it has mastery over us.

    • Travis says:

      Right on, Brent! Money to me isn’t something I use to buy “stuff” anymore. I use it as a tool that allows me to spend time with friends and family and make memories that will last forever. As always, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  6. Travis, your outlook on life is truly inspiring to me and many others 🙂 Even through all the tough times you manage to see the positive side or life lesson learned. You deserve a huge round of applause for just running the marathon, even though you didn’t finish with the time you were hoping for! I am VERY proud of you for your time and all of your debt accomplishments.

    • Travis says:

      If the last 3 years have taught me anything, it’s that bad situations can lead to unexpected, valuable, and even treasured outcomes. When you choose to make something positive out of bad situations, you never know what may happen… might find yourself crossing the finish line of a marathon, or speaking at a blogger’s conference, or even sitting in an auditorium in Maryland. 🙂

  7. You are truly inspirational Travis. I love your outlook on life and this is a great reminder to keep balence. It’s this reason that I’m planning a wedding even though I’m in debt and I sometimes need to remind myself that life can’t wait for me to be ready.

    • Travis says:

      I appreciate your kind words, Bobbie. 🙂 My wife and I had the same outlook when we were thinking of starting our family. If we waited until everything was exactly perfect, we’d never have kids. You may have read this before, but check out the link below to a little story I heard a number of years ago….I carry this with me and think of it often:

      Weddings, kids, career changes…..they’re all big rocks. Put them in first, and the “rest of life” just kind of fills in around them.

      Great to hear from you!

  8. Great work on the race, and you’re right about life, too — you don’t want to just get by.

  9. Kris says:

    I’ve never run a full marathon, just a couple of half marathons, but I am considering a marathon next year before I turn 50. I keep asking myself why I want to do this – because “runners” run marathons? For a specific time goal? Because if I can run 13 I can probably run 26? But the real answer is just for the experience, like you said. I’m still not sure, but the more I think about the thrill and less about the numbers, the more likely I am to do it. Thanks for a little extra inspiration!

    • Travis says:

      If you’ve done a couple of half marathons, you must have that “runner’s bug,” so I know you know the exhilaration of a good run. I’ve never, ever, ever experienced anything like the feeling of crossing the finish line of a marathon. I’ve done it three times and each time it’s been unforgettable. Actually, to be honest with you, it’s actually the feeling of getting to mile marker 26, and seeing that finish line .2 miles away – at least for me. Running that .2 miles is like a victory lap……I encourage you to do it, you won’t be disappointed. If you want to quiz me on training tips, or have any questions, please email me. I love talking about running. 🙂

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