It's OK to Treat Yourself to the F'ing Coffee, Already
If you're the type who consumes financial blogs, books and articles as I do, you've read the tip a hundred times to skip the morning coffee to save $5 a day, and just over a grand a year. If that's the bit of your life that needs improvement, you're doing pretty well in all other areas and have trimmed back so much fat ... are you even enjoying ANYTHING at this point? Are you having fun or entertaining yourself? Are you going out to happy hours with your friend and co-workers after work and drinking loads of booze since giving up the morning coffee? Have you picked up a smoking habit? Shopping? Manicures? Massages? WHAT DO YOU DO FOR YOURSELF?!
I, personally, have a slight addiction to leather goods. As I sit typing this at my desk, I have two coasters made from 13 oz Hermann Oak veg tan russet leather, from Craft & Lore. I have a leather wallet I made, my Orox Leather phone case, a Koch Leather Field Notes cover, 2 strips of 12 oz veg tan leather I'm not sure yet what to do with. On my writing desk, there are a dozen leather items I can see from this angle, which include a $165 Shell Cordovan pen, more Field Notes covers, another wallet I made, some small journal wraps, a leather valet tray, key fob, a pen sleeve I made ... and behind me, holds the mother lode. Two Kendal & Hyde satchels, two Thrux Lawrence dispatch briefs and about a dozen other bags, organizers, sleeves, small carries ... You get the picture.
To my other side, a very old canvas and leather suitcase holds about 75 leather wallets I don't currently use. Atop that suitcase, sits a small box with some special wallets I use on a rotating basis. In the guest room, more canvas and leather bags reside. It's a lot of accessories I've accumulated ... cutting out my daily coffee doesn't hold a candle to the amount of money spent on these material goods! With a goal of growing businesses, curbing the procurement of more stuff is vital to re-focus money and energy on investing and saving.
Adding up all the money I've spent over the last seven years on unnecessary clothes, shoes, bags, wallets and the like, I could have a down payment for a very nice home. Astonishing, when put like that, isn't it? I look at people around me, with what I can deduce is a respectable down payment to buy their first home, and how little they spend on material items in comparison to my habits. Now, at two weeks shy of turning 33, I'm ready to buy a house. Mentally ready, that is. Fiscally, I've got some habits to change, some saving to do and some decisions to make. Cutting out my morning coffee comes nowhere into play in this plan. You with me so far?
There are hundreds of other areas to dial spending back. Now, let me preface this by saying ... you will not save your way to being a gazillionaire. There are so many other ways to make the most of your time/money formula. Investing, earning a higher income to invest more, loaning money and earning the interest, buying a business, real estate appreciation, etc. But, if you're wasting money on cable, renting appliances, paying absurd interest rates, racking up credit card charges, hoarding unnecessary clothes you'll never wear, not shopping around for the best car insurance rates, buying everything at retail pricing, paying for gym memberships you don't and won't use, eating out instead of cooking at home, yada yada yada, you'll never break through that barrier and get over the hump from struggling paycheck to paycheck to building a nest egg.
How often, and how many things do you buy that you don't need, never use, bought out of boredom, etc? Stop that! Stop it, right now. Let's shake on it. Pinky swear. Hug it out. Whatever our confirmation is to make a mutual agreement to be more conscious about our spending habits, let's do that. I'm guilty of it, as described in the list a few paragraphs above of my leather bags and wallets collection. It's a hard habit to break, but it's also very easy to stop. I used to go walk the mall out of boredom. I'd buy things I didn't need, because it was on sale and because I thought having it would make me feel a certain way. If I could return for full credit all the clothes, shoes, accessories, bullshit that I've bought out of boredom to fill empty holes in my life, I'd be a thousandaire.
Going forward, answer these questions, before making a purchase:
- Does it serve more than a single use purpose?
- What is the cost per use?
- How does this purchase improve my life?
- How does this purchase improve the lives of others?
- How, where and with what intent was this item made?
- Can I borrow, rent or find this second hand?
- What, if any, are the maintenance costs and total costs of ownership for this item?
- Can a more responsibly sourced option be acquired? (Fair trade, organic, handmade, locally made, etc.)
- What is the environmental impact of me owning this item?
- What is my exit strategy with this item, once I’m done with it? Will I: store it in a closet for years to come? Give it away? Sell it? Trash it and send it off to a landfill? Re-purpose it?
- Is this item fulfilling a need or satisfying a temporary want?
- What are the consequences of NOT purchasing this item? Are there other options that are less in cost to you, the environment and your overall happiness? (Read: Spend on experiences, not things.)
Listen, in short, don't cut out things that make you happy, you look forward to, that do far more good than harm. Do cut out the shit that's not serving your highest good, or the highest good of others.
Live and purchase mindfully.
Live Good, Live Well
Set up a session with Beth Derrick and discuss how you can cut non-essentials out of your life to Live Good, Live Well.
This post originally appeared on Beth's blog.