Pound-wise, penny-foolish January 16, 2019
There are myriad tips and tricks online for finding ways to cook at home even though you wanted to go out, deprive yourself of a cup of coffee at your favorite cafe, or check out books at the library instead of buying them.
Reducing small expenses is a necessary evil with a low income or big debts. But it will reduce your quality of life if you truly enjoy what you'll be living without.
Being that I work from home, getting out into the world is critical to my social well-being. I love to spend much of my workday in cafes. The sound of chatter around me, for whatever reason, is soothing. It increases my productivity. It makes for a pleasant day. I interact with others, even if only for a minute at a time.
Portland is home to a bustling restaurant scene, bursting with world-class food at reasonable prices. I do enjoy cooking, but I love the opportunity to experience new cuisine.
Instead of focusing so much on these smaller day-to-day expenses, I look at the bigger, nastier ones. Housing and transporation account for most of our budgets. I could afford to buy a newer, nicer car, but I drive a five-year-old Prius, and only very occasionally. I could afford a nice house with a big mortgage, but I live in a modest 1-bedroom apartment.
In making these lifestyle concessions, I live a life of abundant personal latitude. I eat out whenever I want. I don't think twice when I buy that coffee. I have ample free time. I'm more generous and more thoughtful.
Being penny-foolish is like counting calories: You can do it for awhile, but it won't stick. For true financial change, you need to change your lifestyle. It could mean moving into a smaller place, or selling your car and opting to ride a bicycle instead. Whatever it is, you'll know it when instead of feeling pain from all you've lost, you feel joy from all you've gained.