So this post is a little different than most of my posts, but I think financial fitness is pretty important and is one of my current focuses.
I used to be an incredible saver. I was thrifty and never spent a penny where a penny could be saved. However, living in New York gets to you. You see people spending money—everywhere on everything. You start to value the convenience of shopping at the nearby overpriced grocery store rather than figure out how to lug groceries home from the cheaper store a couple miles away or from Costco, I mean it’s not exactly like city living is equipped with storage for bulk purchases. You develop a taste for sushi and you want to have a brown rice salmon avocado roll every single night. But most of all, you want to enjoy your time and take advantage of the city, which is why you live there after all. You want to see the shows, go to the shi shi restaurants, shop at boutiques. Why live in the city if you are holed up in your apartment all the time? And since apartments are on the small side, socializing gravitates outwards to bar$ and re$tuarant$.
What’s a girl to do? Here is my gentle plan for simple savings….
While I am certainly good at finding cheap entertainment and snagging fitness deals, I am not a clothes whore, I don’t own a single designer shoe or bag, but I have to admit, I have developed a pretty embarrassing “latte factor.” I believe I stole this term from “Smart Women Finish Rich” which I highly recommend, although reading doesn’t guarantee success. The reading was easy, it’s the action that i haven’t been able to master. But I am going to give it a go.
I was shocked and stunned when I read about the $100 November/Thanksgiving challenge. I literally could not believe it would be possible for anyone to spent only $100 on food for a month. Seriously? I could spend that in a day. I probably typically spend $100 on food every 3-4 days. Easy-peasy. I know that $100 would be impossible, maybe $100 a week. That would actually be great—taking advantage of my work meal plan more, asking people to go to cheaper restaurants, going out for coffee not wine. To Emily—the founder and my friend—and to all those partaking in the Thanksgiving Challenge my hat is off to you and I am reading in utter awe and fascination!
But instead, I am going to tackle my spendthrift habits in a different, but equally effective way. By reducing my latte factor.
What is the latte factor?
It is the little everyday (or every hour) purchases you make capriciously. Coffee, gum, energy bar, bottle of water, lip balm, drugstore impulse buys, magazines, iTunes, cigarettes, 4 pm vending machine raid, etc.
Everyone has a different latte factor. But essentially, they are things that aren’t around long, but their cost can really drain your wallet, in a sneaky and speedy way. Unlike investing in a nice sweater, which you will have for years, you down a coffee and move on with nothing but a slight buzz to show for it. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes that buzz or piece of gum makes you happy in a way that makes the rest of your morning or afternoon enjoyable or at least bearable.
This trick is to cut out or down on your non-essential latte items and keep only the one or two that truly make you happy.
I took a tally of my major latte expenses and man, was it down right embarrassing. Here is a what I could save in a given day or week
Imprudent Purchase Cost per day Cost per week
Bottle beverages $8 $56
Coffee $2.50 $5 (twice a week)
Gum $1.50 $4.50 (3 times a week)
Magazines $4 $8 (2)
Unnecessary snacks $4 $20 (average per week
Total Possible Savings: $20 $93.50
Wow, that is almost $100 a week on stuff that provides minimal real enjoyment. I mean at least eating a meal out reflects meaningful social time. A trip, a sweater, at least there is a memory attached, I don’t have much memory of my last piece of gum!
So this is my challenge and feel free to join me! I am going to tackle this progressively. I am going to try and eliminate one “imprudent purchase” each week for 5 weeks (cumulatively) and keep track of my total spending and saving in these areas. I will check in each week.
Week one challenge: cut back to only 1 bottle beverage purchase per day. Yay for the environment too!
Another great read, I highly recommend: City Chic: An Urban Girl’s Guide to Living Large on Less. Fabulous book to help you save!
Finally, a few things I have really enjoyed compliments of my magazine obsession:
Padma Laksmi’s 15 Healthy Snacks (in the December Marie Claire). It’s not online yet, so here are my favs:
- orange or grapefruit sliced into rings and drizzled with honey and cinnamon (dessert, breakfast or with tea)
- baked figs with balsamic vinegar and black pepper
- hummus on endive with parsley
- Cucumber spears dusted with salt and chili and lime juice
I am also loving Tim Gunn’s new Marie Claire Fashion column
Here’s a Gunn quote, perhaps directed at me
Why, oh, why do people persist in dragging around luggage-size handbags to evening events? I see this with more frequency than I care to recall. What are people thinking? Do they line these behemoths with plastic in order to escape with leftovers?
All right kids, I am going to try to knock off some more school work before the big Gossip Girl OM3 episode!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s my one night at home this week and I will watch teen tv shows if I so please
PS: DJC, I hope you are enjoying Mozambique!