Updated on 12.11.07

Going Inside The Wall: What Are We Fighting For?

Trent Hamm

tomatoI often talk about the “latte factor,” made famous by David Bach. In a nutshell, the “latte factor” refers to the fact that the raw repetition of a habit that costs money each time can drain you dry financially.

For example, let’s say you have a latte each morning that costs $4, along with a muffin that costs $2. $6 for a morning treat isn’t bad. But in a week, that’s $42. In a year? $2,184. After ten years of this, when you could be putting the cash in a high-yield savings account that returns 4% on your money, you’re out $26,221.38. That morning coffee and muffin just cost you a car.

The obvious answer is to start ditching these little habits whenever we can find them. Give up that morning latte. Eliminate some monthly bills. Cut out that twice-weekly trip to the bookstore. Give up cigarettes or caffeine or such. This stuff really will work to improve your financial state, and you should strongly think about doing every thing like this that you can.

But that’s not the full answer.

Over at 43Folders, Lance Arthur wrote a brilliant summary of some of the life lessons he learned from a deceased friend of his, Leslie Harpold. This one stuck out at me:

She managed to curtail her smoking habit and for a while traded in her cans of Diet Coke for big glasses of water instead. She began to feel the health benefits of both decisions — but discovered also that she felt worse, emotionally, even if she felt better physically. She was giving up things she really enjoyed for all the right reasons, but she felt like her life hadn’t really improved as a result.

What’s the conclusion?

It’s your life. Live it how you want to. Accept the responsibilities of your decisions, but also the rewards and pleasures — without guilt.

I take this to heart when I think about the things I’ve given up and the things I’ve struggled with over the last year or two. I’ve had little or no problem getting rid of many things in my life, trimming my monthly bills, and so on. I’ve eliminated several expensive hobbies and habits and I feel much better for the change.

I’m just left with one real weakness, one area that I overspend on and don’t worry much about the consequences: food.

I love artisan foods. I love trying to make my own complex dishes. I love a perfectly assembled cheeseburger, with a sharp cheddar cheese melting on top, a gigantic slice of pickle upon it with diced and sauteed mushrooms and onions slathered on top. I love the dining experience at a mind-blowing restaurant. I love food in all of its amazing forms.

This extends even to beverages. I love selecting the perfect bottle of wine to match a meal, and my wife and I drink a glass with the majority of our evening meals. I love the fizziness of an organic ginger ale. I love the taste of a homemade stout on my tongue, made with oatmeal and subtly producing a chocolate-like flavor.

Food is the one area of my life that I’ve always found enjoyment and happiness, and it’s one that I am loathe to give up. I might always seek ways to trim my budget, but I won’t sacrifice the simple pleasure of an ice cold soda or a bowl of homemade ice cream or a freshly-baked loaf of bread.

To me, this is the spice of life. It is part of that area of safety that I’m trying to protect through financial prudence. To abandon something that brings such deep value into my life would be giving up the very reason I’ve learned to become financially responsible to begin with.

So if you ever catch me examining a selection of $20 cheeses, realize that I’m living my life the way I want to live it, without fear or worry. This is what financial independence is all about.

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  1. Joe says:

    Hey – so you’re human after all! But in all seriousness, I have a major weakness for food myself. It would be really helpful, at least for me, if you could give us your approximate monthly budget for food…

  2. Marjorie says:

    Bonjour! This is exactly how I live my life, and I really appreciate that you wrote about such an important distinction between living a fulfilling, frugal life and living a deprived one.

    I too derive great pleasure from really good, quality food. Restaurants here are prohibitively expensive, so I tend to cook most of our meals at home. I do, however, choose the best ingredients we can afford, from organic dairy to local, fresh produce at the farmer’s market. We don’t buy anything with high fructose corn syrup, and we eat only the best, richest chocolate (and it’s not Hershey’s Special Dark!).

    We also love visiting our local coffee houses. Not Starbucks, mind you, but the neighborhood coffeehouse with the $1.75 cafe au lait (50 cents less if you bring your own mug!) and the great company. Sure, it hits right at the heart of the “latte” factor, but to us it represents more than a good cup of brew. It represents community and neighborliness and thriving local businesses. In addition, about 2-3 times a week, it means a cheap place to do my work (I’m a freelance writer) in a well-lit, comfy environment, complete with good coffee (only small 2 cups a day, max), good atmosphere, and an opportunity to get out of the house. On the weekends, it’s our morning “date,” where we sit and read or write or just chat. For less than $5 for both of us, we get quiet mornings, good conversation, and good company. Much cheaper than therapy or almost any other date, and certainly more fun!

    Thank you for this post!


  3. Mark says:

    Great post Trent.

    I could not agree more. The area that I am trying to “protect” is my HD Satellite service. I just love watching sports, especially in HD. So when others out there keep saying “cut the cable” I just cringe, I would have more money, but I would have lost something that makes me happy.

    You are exactly right, that IS what financial freedom is about.

  4. beloml says:

    Eating high-quality food now will add years to your life and save you potentially bankruptcy-inducing hospital/long-term care costs in the future. Bon appetit!

  5. Well said.

    I started buying some cheap food in order to save money on my grocery bill and I find that I really don’t enjoy it. I tend to be a bit of a food-lover myself (probably a good reason why I’m overweight), but taking all of the enjoyment out of eating can’t be the answer either.

    I guess it is safe to allow some more spending on certain things when you have taken the time to cut out as many wasteful areas of your budget as possible.

  6. sunshine says:

    Travel and gardening are my passions. Through the YMOYL exercises, I found that gardening is very important to me and I have increased my spending on my project. I am creative about it(curb shopping supplies as available), but now I don’t worry about spending money on supplies.

  7. Kevin says:


    I think you should elaborate on the homemade stout you mentioned in a future post. The first thing I want to do when I get a house and some space is some home brewing.

  8. jtimberman says:

    The important thing here is to understand the opportunity cost for your money.

    Like you said, one can either buy a latte and muffin every day for ten years, or buy a *really* nice used car over the same period of time.

    Always consider what your dollars can do for you before you spend them. That is one aspect of budgeting every month.

    Also remember that having stuff or doing stuff doesn’t equal happiness, it’s fun. A big mistake people make is they think when they’re having fun, that means happiness. It is easy to confuse the two, but what happens when the fun is over? When you come back from vacation, or when that brand new electronic gadget breaks? Be careful or you’ll chase happiness all your life.

  9. Johanna says:

    This post hints at, but does not quite hit, the heart of many people’s misinterpretation of the latte factor and frugality in general. Frugality is a tool, not a virtue in and of itself. The idea is not “Thou shalt cut out all luxuries from thy life, or else thou art a foolish and immoral person.” The idea is “If you’re having trouble making ends meet, or saving as much as you’d like for future goals, then here are some strategies to help you cut your spending.”

    If your financial situation is just fine, then there’s no reason to cut your spending unless you want to. If you get more enjoyment out of the daily lattes than you would get out of a $26,000 car ten years from now, then by all means choose the lattes.

  10. Mrs. Micah says:

    Indeed. We’re saving for the future, but we’re going to have to start “living” at some point. Better now when we’re alive than in the uncertain future.

    Of course, cutting down on some bad habits or cutting out unnecessary things to save money can also be a good step. I think the key is that we replace the bad habits we liked with good things we like. So maybe instead of drinking coke 24/7, having 1 can in the mid-afternoon to fight off the afternoon blahs.

    Or having a latte once a week, getting a big one and seeing it as a special treat. (Instead of every day.)

    Or your glass of wine with dinner…vs. a bottle.

  11. sara says:

    I’m also a quality food lover. Our grocery budget now is a little higher now than it could be, in order to allow for fun ingredients and flavors, I am an avid coupon-er in order to allow this indulgence. What keeps my husband and I motivated is reconciling ourselves to the fact that this is not the time in our lives when expensive ingredients is the priority- saving for a house and retirement is the priority. If we are diligent now about saving and investing, in the not too far off future I won’t have to buy meat based on whats on sale, and we’ll be able to eat good cheeses whenever we get the urge.

    Recognizing that there are seasons in life to save more, and seasons in life to spend more (obviously the earlier the saving season is done, the earlier the spending season can come) has helped keep us motivated when we’re standing in the cheese aisle, to tell ourselves “not yet.”

  12. Becky says:

    I love the post and I love Johanna’s and Mrs. Micah’s comments. You are right on!

  13. Kay says:

    For me, frugality is trying to make the most of each dollar. Sometimes that means stretching a buck as far as possible. Sometimes it simply means packing the most value into 100 pennies that we can, whether that is measured in pleasure, memories, and quality of life or in account balances and consumer goods.

    Taking off on Johanna’s comment above, I’m trying to instill in my stepson a preference for quality over quantity that seems to be the antithesis of my mother’s “cheapness = morality” value system. (Example: when my brother asked for a sweater for Christmas, Mom bought him three cheap, acrylic sweaters from a discount store as a gift, while I gave him one classic sweater in natural fibers from a retailer of quality merchandise. We spent about the same dollar amount, but she was very disapproving and almost repulsed at the idea that I spent so much for a single garment. But guess which sweater he’s still wearing years later?)

  14. Mary McK. says:

    Trent, this is one of your best posts ever. And that’s saying a lot.

  15. vh says:


    One of the problems “latte factor” penny-pinching seems to pose is that to get that $10,000 car, you actually have to take the cost of the latte and the muffin & put it into savings, every single day. Well, but an extra $42 a week in my bank account ends up getting spent on the things my paycheck wouldn’t cover if I slurped down a latte every morning: groceries, dog food, utility bills.

    Actually, that’s not so: much of it it gets spent on something else that makes life worth living: really good groceries. Like Trent, I’m partial to good cooking and good eating — and a few bottles of wine a month so I can have a glass of wine with every dinner.

    Any day I’d rather have rack of lamb with a good cabernet once a week than an overpriced sugary snack every morning. I guess instead of being a “frugal choice,” that kind of bargain is a trade-off: something you can afford but that doesn’t provide all that much pleasure & isn’t good for you vs. something you can afford that is truly wonderful and does your body as much good as it does your spirit.

  16. A says:

    Good Post. I try to be frugal and watch my spending. I save for retirement at work (get those matching dollars), buy stock through the employee plan, save for college for my three children,put money in a roth IRA, emergency fund etc,tithe etc,bring my lunch yada yada …
    But, I can’t seem to shake the coffee/latte habit. It makes me feel like I’m not a miser and that some of my money can acutally be spent on ME,MYSELF and I. You can’t deprive yourself all the time or you won’t be able to stick to the budget. I just put the latte in the budget.

  17. DrBdan says:

    Dang it Trent, now I really want a burger… man that sounded good.

  18. Marta says:

    Great post, Trent! I love high-quality food too and it is the main indulgence I allow myself. Additionally, good clothing can make you feel ten times better about yourself and how you present yourself to others (as well as good grooming habits). I would have to agree with Kay: spending $60 on a well-fitting, high-quality sweater will prove much better in the long run than buying 3 $20 sweaters.

  19. Lisa says:

    OK! You can buy your kids the hottest over-priced name-brand Chrismtas toy. I get it. Excellent post, Trent.

    Johanna, I really like your comment about “Frugality is a tool, not a virtue in and of itself.” Good stuff.

  20. Nick says:

    Great post Trent. I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of high-quality food and the whole dining experience. I’ve been a long time reader and this is the first time I’ve posted if that tells you how much this post rang true for me. Cheers!

  21. m says:

    I agree with the person who commented on your writing–this was a well written, descriptive post–loved the food descriptions.

    I find that I differ from Joanna’s line of thinking in that I do believe there can be virtue in frugality for reasons other than simply to save money. I enjoy frugality because I like simplicity and enjoy reducing waste and minimizing excess.

    I am not against enjoyment and pleasure–far from it–but I don’t think the only motivation for frugality is to have money to spend on something else you value more. Sometimes, often in my case, the reward is simply in not using more than you need. That feels good in and of itself.

    Having said that, I’m totally with you, and Mrs. Micah, on the concept of enjoying the fruits of your frugality and allowing yourself those pleasures in life that bring great satisfaction. The point is to do so deliberately, rather than absentmindedly without full analysis of the cost and sacrifice, i.e. intentionally choosing the purchases that are worth it to you and skipping those that aren’t.

    I just don’t believe frugality is always about money. For me, it is almost always about the desire to keep things simple, and to avoid or reduce waste and unnecessary excess. I’m all for good food, though–healthy, delicious food is one of the last things I will skimp on.

  22. Tarits says:

    Part of my budgeting is avoiding the whole Starbucks planner craze going on right now. I bought a coffee machine and am thriving on home brewed coffee. Someone pointed out that instant coffee is cheaper, but I think that I’d be depriving myself without my daily dose of REAL caffeine. And whenever I spend time with my friends, I would usually ask to meet in a coffee shop. That only happens once or twice a month, and I derive more pleasure from their company than saving up for a hypothetical car in the future. I think you need to put some money aside for treats.

  23. Luke says:

    I love examples like this one with everything spelled out. Really well said! I mean I run across articles were we could extrapolate every little purchase, but where does it end? What if you bumped into your wife at the coffee shop? What if you met clients there as well? I think the solution to spending $6/day at the coffee shop is NOT to make it at home and race to work in your car without stopping to smell the roses, but maybe just to go out 1-2 times a week. There must be something to enjoy and live for.

    This is a nice frugality check. There MUST be limitations to being frugal or what is the point of living?

  24. It’s all about finding a good mix between frugality and living your life freely without financial shackles. We save and save but sometimes we need to treat ourselves and not force ourselves into an unhappy situation.

    I drink bottled water because it’s convenient and it encourages me to drink water instead of soda. I know it’s free from the tap but I still prefer bottled due to the promotion of healthy consumption habits.

  25. Al says:

    Indeed, life is too short to give up a few satisfying vices. Instead of dodging your morning coffee, make sure you take care of the big stuff i.e. live in the “right size” house, drive cars that are paid for, avoid all credit card debt and save 15-20 percent of your salary for your retirement. As a friend of mine once said, “If you are saving your 15-20 percent, who cares if you do all your grocery shopping at 7-11?”

  26. Brian says:

    Your post is right on Trent. It’s impossible to give up EVERYTHING that costs money.

  27. moneymonk says:

    I always say do BOTH, if you can. Have your latte and a paid for car!

    To sacrifice one for the other, is plain ridiculous.

    I say push to get your income up instead of cutting little stupid expenses that you enjoy.

  28. MVP says:

    That’s precicely why DH and I fit in $50 a month for each of us to spend on whatever we want. For me, that’s usually nice lunches out during work, or good coffee. For him, well, I’m not sure what he spends it on, but it doesn’t matter. We still paid off our debts and stay ahead of our current bills while enjoying a little of the good life.

  29. T.Brown says:

    I have been shocked (although I shouldn’t be) at the number of people (*cough* relatives *cough*) who have money for that latte every morning but don’t have money to invest in emergency funds, retirement or fun. “Gosh, guess I’ll never travel,” they’ll say. “I just don’t make enough money.”

    It’s as though they expect a fairy to come around, wave a magic wand, and make their financial woes go away. “Oh, well. Maybe I’ll win the lottery someday.”

    Me, I think I’d prefer to control the things I can control, and that includes ditching knee-jerk habits like $4 lattes I don’t even taste anymore. And therein lies the key: there’s a great difference between blowing money on things one doesn’t really enjoy and purposefully deciding where one’s values and priorities lay. Occasional indulgence is fine, but when something like a latte happens each day, it probably isn’t an indulgence anymore.

  30. Katie says:

    I also feel this way about food but have a really hard time fitting my “foodie” desires into an appropriate budget amount for a family of 4. I second the first poster, can you give us an estimate of your food budget? Or your method of determining how much you will spend on food and wine when your other financial goals are looming?

  31. Heidi says:

    Very well said.

    These are the kind of expenses I use my personal monthly “allowance” for. Life’s too short to give up the occasional latte (or in my case, Niman Ranch meats & fresh goat cheese).

    I agree with moneymonk above – you can have both if you work a plan that includes saving and continually increase your income.

  32. Marie-France Castonguay says:

    This is a great post. Have you ever thought of publishing a cookbook with frugal recipes? I’m sure a lot of people would be interested.

  33. rebecca says:

    Even the tightwad gazette says this (in it’s own words) In one article she talks about the idea that we’re not being frugal just to save money (that’s what Scrooge did)– it’s to save money for something. For her is was a big farmhouse in the country and a lot of children, for some friends of hers it was travel. The important this, like you said, to know what is important to you and to use your resources on things that truly enrich your life .

  34. Fecundity says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. Frugality is a tool that lets you save money on things that are less important to you, so you can prioritize those that are moreso. Buying three cheap sweaters that are (presumably) unattractive and unwarm is not frugal, it’s wasteful (great story, Kay).

    Generally I’m pretty good at finding bargins on the stuff we need. However, I do spend significant money on good wine, port and cheese for me, and good scotch for Hubby. I love a hunk of Cambozola with a glass of 10 year old tawny Taylor Fladgate. Giving both of those up is probably the hardest part of my pregnancy. Well, that and the nausea.

    At least all I’ve experienced so far cravings-wise is a desire for raman noodles. Seems my irrational urges are at least frugal.

  35. Deena says:

    Great post. I’m a fellow foodie…living with someone who eats just to live. It’s killer to discuss the grocery budget…

  36. partgypsy says:

    This blog is very relevant to our spending habits. Tracking our spending, while our expenses are lower than average in a number of areas (such as mortgage, no cell phone) we regularly spend 20-30% of our income on food (groceries and eating out). This is higher than the 11% the average american spends, but close to the average percent Europeans spend, which I thought was interesting.

  37. countdrak says:

    I think its important to balance the two , if you enjoy eating out — eat out once a week instead of 5 times a week. Enjoy the latte once a week , or buy new shoes once a month.

    The problem is not the latte the problem is over-indulgence.

    Great post!

  38. jaushwa says:

    what a great piece.
    an example of mine is automobiles. I’m considering buying a used BMW this December right after Christmas. This decision comes after maxing out my retirement accounts and meeting my savings goals.
    I’m getting a BMW because no other car drives quite like it. I used to own a new one but sold it to pay off my student loans. Now (years later) I realize what I really want to spend my extra money on.

  39. Great post! I also think it’s bad for the soul to give up everything that makes you happy. Food, Lattes, the weekly movie, what ever. I don’t advocate blowing a budget to have a cup of coffee or a nice bottle of wine, but we all need something in our lives that makes us feel good. I’m willing to sacrifice a lot to get back on track in my life (and I have to, no doubt about that. I have so few vices left, that a good bottle of wine with my weekend meal really makes me happy and soothes my soul.

  40. Gayle says:

    I have recently been examining a particular spending pattern of my own. The place I work makes it easy to spend money in the cafeteria, gift shop, pharmacy, etc because all I have to do is swipe my name badge and it is deducted from my paycheck. Easy right?

    The grand total for this year is $1200+. That does not include the pop out of the machine which adds another $150.

    This latte factor is out of control for me. Therefore I am taking some steps to at least reduce it if not eliminate it. First to go is the 1.25 each shift for a pop out of the machine. The price was recently raised. Eventually I hope to eliminate it but for now i am going to bring in a 99 cent 2 liter from home which lasts 2 days. This will also eliminate the pop bought in the cafeteria.

    Next looking at the pharmacy purchases I have switched my prescriptions to the mail order pharmacy so I will get 90 days for one copay instead of 30.

    The biggest struggle will be limiting cafeterial purchases. I do have to eat and by the time I get to the third 12 hour shift I am too tired to think about brown bagging it.

    While I haven’t settled on a dollar goal I want to considerably reduce this outlay. One way of looking at it would be to call it one fourth of an IRA contribution.

  41. paidtwice says:

    I just wrote about my own struggle with this yesterday, hee hee.

    I cannot wait until I beat the debt monkey down and can start making choices within frugality instead of scrimping everywhere just to get by. :)

    Great post.

  42. debtdieter says:

    Terrific post Trent, this line really hit home for me:

    That morning coffee and muffin just cost you a car.

    This is exactly how I’ve managed to get myself into so much debt over the years.

    I was also struck by what you DO choose to spend your money on can provide an enjoyable life, and the key is to spend your money on things that add value to YOU.

  43. Jillian says:

    I’m with you on the food. And that tomato picture is so good I can almost taste it…

  44. Dylan says:

    Prudently frugal, but selectively extravagant.

    What good is pinching every penny going to do long after one is out of the negative? Part of life is savoring the fruits of your labors. Use some, enjoy some and save the rest for later.

    Trent, you have figured it out. :)

  45. I love coffee like many of you love food – and normally “latte factor” articles have me rolling my eyes as I sip my $2 Starbucks’ coffee and cream. However, there were some wonderful points made in this article, and the comments.

    1) The lattes do add up over time. My personal solution was to switch from the $5 Mochas to the $2 coffee. I now have two coffees a week instead of five. I took the money I saved, added it to my Sharebuilder account and invested it in Starbucks stock.

    If I’m going to give them the equivalent of a car every ten years, then I can at least get a small return on my investment. You can laugh, but it makes me happy – Just like those morning lattes do!

    2)From the article: “part of that area of safety that I’m trying to protect through financial prudence”

    This really touched me because it’s exactly what I am trying to do. Carve out a small niche of protected, secure happiness for myself and my family.

    I have said for a long time that some things in life are worth paying for, things like air conditioning in summer,organic food, my high-speed internet connection and my coffee. These things are different for everyone and every family.

    I read a comment somewhere that said “The power of money is in the choices it allows you to make for your family.”

    This is one of the truest things I have ever heard. As I move from financial irresponsibility to finally becoming a financial adult, I may give up those lattes. Right now though, they make me smile no matter how bad the day is, and that’s worth the $2 to me.

  46. Caeli says:

    It’s good to see someone acknowledge the addiction factor. Just because a habit is expensive and unhealthy doesn’t mean that you can just stop and walk away. The cigarettes you mentioned are an excellent example. There are few (legal) habits that are more wasteful and expensive, but most people aren’t doing it because they like to throw away their money on something that greatly reduces their quality of life. Like you said, she may have felt better physically, but emotionally it was worse. Substances such as nicotine are emotionally addictive because they change the chemical balance in your brain. People who already have physical issues with an imbalance of the mood enhancing chemicals that are normally produced by the brain are more likely to start smoking and less likely to be able to quit. Quitting smoking can sometimes cost more than it would to continue, especially when you factor in the possible relapse to other, more expensive illegal drugs in an attempt to self-medicate the emotional withdrawal symptoms, possible suicide attempts that could cause astronomical medical bills, or the cost of intensive, drawn-out therapy and expensive prescription medications and missed work time.

    Given the alternatives, it sounds a whole lot better to just let it go, doesn’t it?

  47. aeko says:

    I tried to lower the thermostat in order to save money, all it did was make me miserable and cold.running around the house with multiple layers of clothes is uncomfortable and nothing covers my nose which was cold all the time. And gloves in the house, out of the question. I am a senior citizen and at this stage in my life, I will be warm, will give up something else to save.

  48. Carol says:

    Loved this post. What you wrote about your food indulgences makes a lot of sense, and made me smile. The Vogue comments and the mention of the John Steinbeck books were also food for thought. Thanks!

  49. Sandy says:

    I’ve found that to help “balance my budget” and my desire for really high quality food, is to choose some items in my shopping list generic. For example, items like 5-minute oatmeal, garbanzo beans, and sugar, I always buy generic. There is also a store in Ohio (Marc’s) that actually has a great organic section, and has very cheap prices, so I’ve been shopping there for lots of items.
    That leaves room for the items that cannot be purchased generic, like the goat cheeses, etc..
    One other way to cut costs on organics is to garden. “Square Foot Gardening” is my bible, and every year in March, as my rhubarb and Swiss Chard start peeking through the dirt, I dig out my copy and plan out where my tomatoes and green beans should go this year, and I’ve got a really small backyard patch, but (I counted last year) it saved $375 from being spent anywhere on food. Well, if you throw tax in, about $500, I guess!
    And the joy of cutting your own lettuce or picking your own peppers and serving them up is….priceless!

  50. Diane Taylor says:

    Trent – Just wondered if you are equally open to your wife indulging in expenditures that give her pleasure? What if you consider her expenditures as “unnecessary” but yours “the spice of life”?

  51. Louise says:

    search this site for “horses” or “collectible horses.” I doubt Trent gets much joy out of them, but his wife seems to love them.

    I have wondered about this topic myself, but whenever Trent brings up couples and finances, it seems like they just communicate so well and are so well-matched, that they don’t ever fight over anything financial. I hope that doesn’t sound bitter, it’s not meant to be. Some people rarely argue, and Trent writes as if he and his wife fall into that category.

  52. Daisy says:

    Wow, Trent. You expressed all that in the most wonderful way.

    I myself am pretty thrifty but there are some things I won’t give up either. :) Thanks for the post!

  53. KellyKelly says:

    Love the post. And another thing about financial anorexics — they can be awfully hard to be around. They can be quite the condescending party-poopers.

    Let’s look at this issue from another angle — instead of compulsive frugality, what about compulsive earning? Why not just work every spare hour of your life so you can pile up more and more anre more savings?

    I mean really, who can EVER have enough of a financial cushion for retirement or emergencies?

    But most people, even the frugalers, don’t work extra jobs (once the debt is paid down or off).

    But if you are cutting off all channels of material pleasure (food, travel, entertainment, giving gifts) because you are compulsively denying yourself, why not just glutton up on the earning? Trade more hours of your life for more money.

    Ironically, anorexia/bulimia is a great metaphor for under-spending/overwork.

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