Would You Give Up What You Like to Pinch Pennies?

One of the tenets of the frugality movement is that little expenses can add up. Over time, the pennies you pinch could make you rich.

While I don’t have a problem with penny-pinching and frugality if that’s your thing, I do struggle with the concept for myself. A recent post on the Forbes blog really brought it home for me.

According to the post, Americans spend almost $1,000 a year going out to lunch. That sounds like a lot of money, but spread over the course of  a year, it’s not so bad. Especially if you really enjoy your lunch dates.

Is It Worth It Give Up Something You Enjoy?

According to the Forbes piece, the average American spends an average of $10 on lunch, and goes out about twice a week. To me, that $936 a year would be totally worth it. Here’s why:

  • I enjoy the experience of eating out
  • I like to try new food
  • If I go out with my husband or a friend, I get to enjoy the relationship and the company

To me, it’s worth it to “waste” $20 a week on eating out. I’d rather have the experience of eating out, especially with someone I like, than have that extra $932 at the end of the year. I might not be earning financial dividends, but I enjoy personal and emotional dividends.

It’s not just the small pleasure of a $10 lunch, either. Many of us have small pleasures that could, probably, result in more money at the end of the year. From that famous $5 latte that you pick up two or three times a week to the fact that you prefer to buy your favorite books (read them whenever you want!) to going through the hassle of checking them out from the library.

All of these small and simple pleasures are what make every day life worth living. While going on a grand vacation can be a great experience, it’s not something that you might be able to do every day (unless you have a nomadic lifestyle and see every day as a vacation).

The small, simple pleasures that you can experience every day (or two or three times a week) go a long way toward enhancing your life. They provide comfort and interest, and they allow you to make connections with others, and with yourself.

The real key is determining how important it is to cut the small expense you want to cut out of your life. If you can afford your simple pleasure, should you get rid of it, just to save a few dollars a week? Before you give up that $20 a week for lunch, think about what else you’d be giving up. If your lunch is a chance for you to get out, relax, do something you enjoy and forge strong connections with important people in your life, do you want to give that up? Or is it worth $20 to you?

You don’t want to spend small amounts of money over and over again on things and experiences that aren’t important to you. But if you have a small expense that can bring you a little more happiness and enjoyment, it might be worth keeping.

What do you think?

About the Author

Miranda writes about financial topics for several web sites. Her blog is Planting Money Seeds, and her book, Confessions of a Professional Blogger, is available on Amazon.