Despite being a non-coffee drinker (I know; the horror!) I loved Aloysa’s “Live a Little: Have a Latte” post. In it, she points out that some of the things we buy “make us feel guilty because we think we make frivolous and unjustified spending choices”.
According to David Bach’s web site, the latte factor is based on the idea that “putting aside as little as a few dollars a day for your future rather than spending it on little purchases such as lattes, bottled water, fast food, cigarettes, magazines and so on, can really make a difference between accumulating wealth and living paycheck to paycheck”.
He’s completely right, but like Aloysa, I think that you should spend money on the things that you enjoy.
Mindless spending vs. purposeful spending
Mindless spending on things is different from purposeful spending in a couple of ways. The typical little things listed by David Bach all have a couple of things in common: they’re not super-expensive in one shot, and they’re easy to make a habit — which of course means they add up. Habits are things that you do without really thinking about. You just do them because you’re used to doing them. (Or in some cases, because you’re addicted to them.)
Where’s the joy in that?
I think spending should be about getting what you really want — whether that’s travel, an expensive handbag, or a Lotus Elise — while making sure your financial needs are met. In my book, making sure your financial needs are met includes being out of debt, having a fully-funded emergency fund and setting aside money each month for retirement.
Get what you really want
So I think my husband should go right ahead and get the Lotus Elise that he wants. (Plus, it’s a very cool car. My car might even get jealous.)
He was obsessing over the Elise awhile back, and then started talking to me about how maybe he shouldn’t get it because it’s a lot of money to spend on a car. (Probably $28,000 for a used one, which is what he would get.) I immediately said, “Hey, I fully intend to go to Antarctica at $10,000 a person, at least you’ll have a car when you get done spending the money. Get what you want.”
Spend joyfully and responsibly
If he’d told me he wanted to go out and buy the Elise today, before we’d finished paying off our house and before he’d saved up the money, I’d be singing a different tune. But I firmly believe that a big bonus to getting your financial house in order is the ability to spend without guilt. (Along with the ability to do good and help others, and the huge reduction in stress.)
So that’s why I think my husband should go ahead and get that Lotus if he really wants it, and why you should enjoy your latte if you’re not just drinking it down out of habit.
But if you’re not enjoying the things you’re buying (or can’t afford them, even if they’re “only” a little bit) put that money to better use elsewhere.Spending Money on 01.16.12 with 29 comments.