For anyone who has researched financial tips or budgeting advice, a common suggestion is to give up morning coffee from Starbucks or whichever is your favorite café. Articles like this one talk about how you’re throwing your money away.
Using their example, if you invested that $100 per month and were able to get a 12% annual return you could have $1 million in forty years. I’ll just mention briefly that a 12% year-over-year return is unrealistic, and if you had saved the same amount of money and got a 7% return which is more realistic, in forty years you would have $250,000.
This is not a critique of Suze Orman or others like her. I think she has some really good advice and has helped a lot of people, but I don’t think the key to financial security is about avoiding the morning coffee.
Buy Yourself the Coffee, Just Be Smart About It
I will start by saying if you’re using a credit card that you can’t pay off or are swimming in debt, then yes, you shouldn’t be spending money on coffee. But if you’re someone with a budget that can support that morning coffee, then I say buy yourself a morning coffee, just be smart about it.
You might be asking yourself what I mean by “be smart about it.” When it comes to personal finance, and many other aspects of life, it is all about priorities.
I know some people who I would lovingly refer to as coffee fanatics. One of the best parts of their day is going to their local café, seeing all of the familiar faces, ordering their favorite drink from the barista that knows exactly how to make it and enjoying their coffee as they get ready to take on the day. Yes, they could have less expensive coffee at home, but the experience and enjoyment are not the same.
For this type of person, the morning Starbucks run is a priority, and it’s great they’ve figured that out. What that also means is other parts of their finances they will have to make less of a priority or sacrifice altogether. For the coffee fanatic, it could be they prioritize their morning coffee over the weekend movie or the nicer car. It’s all about what is most important to you.
Know Your Priorities and Be Intentional
It all boils down to knowing your everyday financial priorities and being intentional with your money. Money is a tool that we can use to live our best lives if used properly.
I’ll give you a personal example. My wife and I have made the decision that creating experiences and going on adventures with our kids is one of our top priorities. So, every month or so, we try to do a day trip or stay a couple of nights somewhere new and spend time as a family exploring and having fun.
This priority comes with some sacrifices. For us, those sacrifices are not having the nice cars or the big house. We have intentionally kept those expenses as low as possible so that we are able to go on our adventures. Would it be nice to have those things? Of course, but they’re not as important as the experiences with our kids.
Find that Priority and Sacrifice for It
Going back to the example I started with, there are countless ways that you could save $100 a month instead of spending it. You could ride a bike to work instead of having a car payment, or you could have an older model phone. Maybe you cut the cable TV or stop eating out. And yes, maybe you give up the morning coffee.
The trick is finding out what your priority is and what you are willing to sacrifice for it. Once you have figured that out, don’t let others make you feel guilty for spending your money on what you feel is most important. It’s not “peeing money down the drain” as Suze said – you are prioritizing your expenses.
Not sure what your everyday financial priorities are or struggle aligning your money with them? That is where we can help. Through financial planning, we can help you match your money with your goals and priorities. Give us a call today!