Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Diet Coke Factor

Reading around personal finance blogs, it seems that even the most financially aware people still have sacred cows, things they're willing to spend money on no matter how many bloggers multiply the cost out by days or weeks or months or years and promise that if they only cut out This One Thing, they could retire significantly better-off. For some people, the thing they'll defend is bottled water; for others, smartphone upgrades. For me, it's--well, too many things. Diet Coke, and taxis, and buying lunch out--all sorts of things, really. What is it for you?

My point really is that as long as we aren't defending all of these spending choices, maintaining a few less-than-optimal expenses seems, to me, pretty much fine. Not as frugal as some choose to be with their lives, certainly, but I think the people who are very frugal generally derive some kind of enjoyment from the frugality itself that rivals the enjoyment that I get out of not sweating buying a Diet Coke. At some point, one just says "different strokes for different folks." It's a matter of priorities, you know? If I suddenly decide I want a plasma-screen TV (or really any TV--I don't have one), I'd have a hell of a lot more urgency about cutting out the aspartame fix. The same would be true if I suddenly had to tighten my financial belt dramatically. But neither is the case, and so at this point I pretty much say "What's the big deal?" Perhaps I am confirming the stereotypes of apathetic twentysomethings in doing so, but it's also possible that I'm just somewhere in the middle of the spectrum that stretches between Very Very Frugal and Devil-May-Care Spendthrift. I still may challenge myself to go a month without buying it in the near future, and see what that does to my monthly finances, but the point is that as long as it's just this relatively small slice of my money (or anyone's money) we're talking about, I think saying, Well, actually, I am going to spend it on Diet Coke is not a totally insupportable choice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just reflecting recently on how my past-life cab-taking to avoid being late to work was, in at least one work-life, probably not made up for by the hideousness and low wage of the job I was trying not to be late for. I clearly ought to have quit the job months sooner than I did and saved myself a ton of cc debt.

Since you asked for the list:

1) Cabs (I still take them, though about 3 a month; no longer daily >>cringe<<)
2) Coffee (cut down from expensive latte to $1.75 regular brew --> today I am even drinking my own Nescafe crystals, urrk)
3) Lunch (at least $5 daily)

When I made a concerted plan to get out of cc debt, I had no problem cutting all these things waaay down, if not out altogether. Now that I am out of debt and trying to save, cutting these life simplifiers out seems harder.