You’re Totally Allowed To Buy That Latte (And Other Shocking Money Insights)

Is that latte personal finance advice air tight? If you're looking for budgeting tips or money advice, click through for some you've never heard before (but totally works!)

I’m sure you’ve heard it before.

It’s practically a pillar of the personal finance advice industry: Stop buying $5 lattes.

“The average latte costs five dollars. If you buy one every work day, that’s $25 a week, $100 month. That’s $1,200 a year! You could be putting that towards credit card debt or a house down payment or a vacation!”

Now, this is true. These numbers add up. Five multiplied by five does, indeed, equal twenty-five. And if you really do buy a $5 latte every workday, 52 weeks a year, those purchases will add up.

But not all lattes are created equal.

I learned this from one of student in my Put Your Money Where Your Happy Is course.

Natalie had one of those daily latte habits that every personal finance expert rails against.

Every day on her way to work, Natalie would buy a latte at Starbucks. She’d sit in her car in the drive through, checking email on her phone while she waited her turn to shout her order into the speaker.

She’d pick her coffee up at the window and then drive to her job at an office park in the suburbs, usually finishing the last sip as she pulled into her parking space.

The purchase of her daily latte was a habit. It was almost-mindless and not even particularly happy-making. It was just something she did every day, like brushing her teeth or checking Instagram while she stood in line.

But.

Once a month, Natalie would drive into the city, heading towards her favorite neighborhood: parks, boutiques, bookstores that invite lingering.

Natalie would, again, buy a latte. But this time she’d sip it on a bench in the park, people watching and warming her hands. She’d finish it as she windowshopped and stooped to smell the flowers in the planter outside the antique store.

These lattes all cost five dollars. The one that made her Saturday feel special cost $5 and the ones she drank mindlessly on her way to work cost $5. 

But her weekday, much-less-enjoyable lattes affected her finances a lot more than her Saturday, seems-like-a-scene-in-a-rom-com latte.

Here’s the truth:

It’s not the Sunday morning latte we drink as we walk along the river with our best friend, catching up, and watching the ducks along the shore.

It’s the four lattes we buy during the workweek, because it’s 3:30, we’re sick of working, and we need to get out of the office.

It’s not the $200 boots that look good with everything, make us feel amazing, and get worn three times a week.

It’s 11 pairs of $17 shoes we never wear, bought on sale because we wandered into Target tired, hungry, and grumpy. 

It’s not the $100 anniversary meal, eaten on a gorgeous patio, under bobbing lanterns.

It’s the three-times-a-week $12 takeout we don’t even really like but it’s easier than figuring out what to make for dinner.

I guess what I’m saying is:
If something makes you happy, if it truly adds to your life, if you can afford it: OMG BUY IT. If if it doesn’t or if you can’t: Don’t. Click To Tweet

Traditional personal finance advice – and most budgeting tools! – treat all purchases equally.

They don’t take into consideration how we felt in those jeans or what we were celebrating when we bought that bottle of wine.

They don’t point out that those $150+ Target trips seem to happen after bad conference calls or a night of sub-par sleep.

If we can figure out what makes us happy, we can point more money, time, and energy in that direction.

(And less money, time, and energy in the direction of lattes consumed in thework  parking lot.)

I want to hear from you! Do you have your own version of this story? How do you track your spending? 

P.S. If you want to break your not-that-happy-making daily latte habit (or any other habit) this will help. And it’s free!

Photos by Charisse Kenion and Marion Michele on Unsplash

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I also opened my super-affordable ($35!) super effective class Bank Boost on Wednesday. In the last three months, Bank Boost students have collectively added more than $45,000 to their bank accounts! Class starts tomorrow, so if you’re keen to join us, now is the time!

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How to use your ‘failures’ to plan for success (It’s easier than you’d think!)

Use your failures to plan for success? Yes. If you're looking for productivity tips or an unusual life hack, click through for great tips!

“I mean, no offense, but….”

That’s a great thing to hear on a Monday morning, right? When you’re 10 minutes into an hour-long walk with a friend?

I put on my Polite Midwestern I Won’t Be Offended Face and prepare for my friend to say something vaguely offensive.

“I really didn’t think it would work. I’ve read tons of books on this stuff. I’ve downloaded, like, five different apps. But this worked when nothing else did.”

My friend is talking about my course Bank Boost (shameless plug! It opened for enrollment yesterday!)

I’m flattered and blushy and I tell her so. I totally believe in the stuff we talk about in Bank Boost. It is full of great, insightful information and we approach money in a fun, doable, way!

But.

There are other differences. The stuff my friend tried that hadn’t worked for her? The books and apps? They were solo endeavors. She had no support, no accountability, nobody to bounce ideas off of.

Maybe if she’d had that, those other things would have worked for her.

And if my friend knew this about herself – that she needs support + accountability to get where she wants to go – she’d be able to use that knowledge in every area of her life.

If she wanted to change careers, eat differently, train for a marathon, buy a home, sell everything and travel the world … she’d make sure she had support and accountability to do those things.

She’d stop buying books she doesn’t read, self-paced courses she doesn’t complete, and apps that take up space on her phone. She’d think about what has worked for her in the past and do more of it if she wants to find success in her future.

So I guess the good news is: If something has worked for you in the past, it’ll probably work again for you in the future!

And the bad news is: If something didn’t work for you in the past, it probably won’t magically start working now.

You already have all the information you need to set yourself up for success (or failure). Just look at what has worked in the past and do more of it. And stop doing shit that has never worked for you. Click To Tweet

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Want more fun in your life? Schedule fun! This might not sound like a budgeting tip, but having more fun makes like on a budget more bearable!

 

I did not plan on leading anyone towards an epiphany.

I mean, I knew what I was teaching people was helpful and useful. I knew that my course would help people bring in a lot of extra money, pay off debt, etc. etc. etc.

But I didn’t expect one tiny suggestion – something I thought was so-obvious-it’s-barely-worth-mentioning – to change everything for my students.

What did I tell my Bank Boost students to do?

I told them to schedule fun into their week.

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