Lately I’ve been trying to cut back on spending. Not that our lifestyle was particularly extravagant before, but it had gotten to a point where I’d look at Mint at the end of the month and go, “Holy hell, we just spent *how much* this month?! We ate out a grand total of twice and nothing broke down or exploded so where is all this money going?”
I’d go through each budget category and find that everything was just a *little* over. It’s financial death by “just one more round” or “how can you *not* buy that sweater?” A few lattes there. A doll. A trip to the movies.
Essentially, all of our overages were minor indulgences. If I had been paying more attention to the budget, I could have spaced those purchases out so they happened on a less frequent annual basis or, if need be, cut them out entirely.
But I wasn’t paying attention because, like most things, it’s not that it’s hard to do it, it’s that it’s so easy not to do it. After all, it’s just $5, $10, $20, $30… and I’ve had a rough day, so what harm could a little indulgence do? (Hint: Give me a heart attack when I go through Mint at the end of the month.)
Now I’m all about cutting back, but I’m finding some of the calls difficult to make. For example, I don’t ever actually *have* to go out for coffee, or drink coffee at all for that matter. So any amount of money spent on coffee is unnecessary spending and therefore on the chopping block. But I really, really like waking up to a fresh pot of coffee. It adds that little dash of awesome to mornings that they so desperately need. And spending a rainy afternoon cradling a latte while catching up with a friend? It’s amazing.
Little luxuries like this are part of what separates living from surviving.
So how much is reasonable to spend on coffee? Coming up with broad answers is easy. “As long as you live below your means, it’s fine” or “spend less than you spent last month because you almost gave yourself a heart attack when you looked at Mint, remember?” But a specific dollar amount that’s going to work well for me, personally? That’s trickier.
It’s like that with booze, toys, and entertainment too. How much is too depressingly Spartan? How much is frivolously short sighted? I don’t know. But, given that these questions have implications in other areas, I feel like I need to spend some time considering them. I don’t want to be caught in a situation where “everyone” is spending money doing something, so we do it too.
The Joneses are great and all, but I don’t want to spend our time and money keeping up with their latte consumption. Sometimes I wonder if that’s what I’m doing, without even realizing it.
How do you decide how much to spend on little luxuries? Do you have a rule of thumb?
* Obviously, I am including this image with this post because THAT’S A PARROT DRINKING COFFEE, YOU GUYS!