Friday, July 20, 2012

Rule #6 Forget the Latte, Its the Car/Vacation/Renovation Factor

"Screw giving up your Latte!" - me.

People who have read David Bach's books will be familiar with the Latte Factor.  Its the idea that cutting out small expenditures such as your daily cafe-bought latte, and socking the money away to save and invest, can add up to a really large pot of money further on down the line.  You know, save $5 dollars a day and it adds up quickly.  I don't disagree with this strategy... It intuitively makes sense.  Making your own morning jet-fuel can cost pennies a cup as opposed to paying $3 for a large black coffee at Starbucks.  But if I get some good social interaction while drinking that Starbucks coffee, it might be money well spent, at least thats the way I see it.  After work drinks are another example.  Not having a social life, or eliminating the simple pleasures in life, is not the cure for troubled finances.... And if it is, you probably have an income problem, not a spending problem.

In general, while we agree with the concept of the Latte Factor, we do not subscribe to the practice.  Rather than focus on cutting out the daily small costs, we focus on the bigger things that we can cut out.
If the objective is to save money, people who scrutinize every little purchase, but then drop $5000 on a family vacation, would probably be better off cutting out the vacation if they want to get ahead.  To me this is "not seeing the forest for the trees".  For us, lots of small daily luxuries can be paid for by just cutting out one big one.  Some of the big-ticket items that we have cut out of our lives, while still maintaining our daily coffee or happy hour fix with friends, are a second car, a motorcycle, a second home or cottage, vacations, and cosmetic house renovations.

Imagine how much money you could save if you got rid of your second car, your motorcycle, or that cottage you only go to 3 weeks of the year.  "The kitchen we have now is functional, but dammit I want stainless steel everything... and I'm willing to pay $20000 to get it."  That just sounds silly. Cut back the second car and if you only put away half of what you would typically spend on it, you'll still be saving more than most people do.

Here's mud in your eye... and in your cup!


  1. It is absolutely TRUE!! And not, at the same time... I would ask whether having a much needed vacation that recharges the batteries and refreshes the mind is worth more or less than daily pleasures like having a latte. It is possible to cut down on latte bills by brewing your own, it is also possible to cut down on vacation costs through many thrifty tips. Not to mention, choosing a less popular destination can mean a world of experience for half the worldly cost. Take Ecuador or Thailand. As for renovating a house, keeping a house up to date can ultimately increase the resale, especially when areas have fallen into disrepair.

    So while there are those who have one hand pinching pennies, and the other throwing bills, I think the ultimate goal is to what you want, create a strategy (that includes saving & investing usually), and cut costs wherever it can be down without sacrificing your quality of life! Thanks for reading my opinion.

  2. Thanks for the comment Collin. I agree, our strategy is OUR strategy and it is an example of what works for us. If other people feel they get better value buy cutting back on the coffee vs cutting back on the vacation price tag, then good for them. There is almost always some place where people can exercise spending restraint in order to save money.