One of my new favorite blogs is Impersonal Finance (and not only because he calls himself Mr. Roboto or because his wife and I share a love for the ukulele). I was reading one of his recent posts called The Classics of Personal Finance. Mr. Roboto correctly observes that there is a lot of backlash from personal finance bloggers who say that sometimes we focus on saving money on tiny transactions. We expend time and energy being frugal on items that really don’t move the needle.
He goes on to propose that personal finance may not have a one-size-fits-all solution and that bloggers in diverse economic situations are providing value to people in similar situations to their own. For instance, the blogger writing about debt doesn’t always resonate with the reader who has no debt and is interested in real estate investing. So, maybe looking at the “classic” ways of saving money, including cutting small expenses, isn’t helping.
Seems logical. I agree that personal finance is personal and that we each need to develop our own plan. However, I also believe that people of all income levels, those with both high and low net worths, can benefit from being conscious of purchases, large and small. I decided to write the following comment on Mr. Roboto’s post:
I don’t use my college degree. Literally nothing in my major is directly pertinent in my current job. However, I truly believe that my education taught me lessons outside of the “X’s and O’s”, so to speak. I learned how to work, budget my time, solve complex problems. And I learned how to learn. I built up good habits and those DO help me today.
Sure, there are people for whom a daily Starbucks run won’t move the needle (there are still some for whom it will – as you mentioned, the landscape is diverse), but being conscious of your decisions, building that good habit won’t only affect how you drink your coffee. If you view it the right way, it will affect your entire financial life and outlook.
My education helped me build good habits that lead to a more satisfying life, just like my frugality did.
Sure, having coffee from Starbucks once per day won’t be the habit that makes or breaks you. But imagine if you brewed your own coffee, cooked your own meals, cut cable, reduced your monthly electricity bills, etc. Suddenly, these small expenses add up. Think of all of your small expenses as one big expense, if that helps you. Pile them all together and you will see how important they are.
Plus, the person who is conscious about the small things is RARELY the person who goes out and buys a yacht that he/she can’t afford. Now, I’m not saying that you should never buy anything, but consciously buying the things and experiences that truly make you happy and cutting out the rest, leads to a better life. Don’t go to Starbucks because it’s part of your routine. Go when you know it will really be a treat for you AND you know that it fits within your financial goals.
What do you think? Do you sweat the small stuff?
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