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To Buy, or Not to Buy – Coffee is the Question

September 28, 2016

I’m standing in a lightly crowded coffee shop watching the people around me and searching the menu for my order of choice.  I’m often astonished – and even a little defensive – at the price of coffee at a shop compared to how much less it costs to make at home.  It begs the questions: “What do people really buy when we buy coffee out?”  And, “is it worth the price?”

Coffee at home verses coffee out is pennies to the dollar.  But it clearly calls for the price mark up, as we can see from the countless coffee shops across the country, and truly, around the world.  The behavior of people patronizing coffee shops varies widely.  There are serious business meetings and moms at the drive through; long talks with close friends and straight caffeine fixes.  There are elements of addiction and elements of self-care.

Do you value what you're getting?

When I coach my clients on how to decide whether or not to buy something, our main focus is on what comes into their lives and what leaves their lives with the transaction.  How will their lives be different?  How do the costs that go out and the value gained operate in the big picture?

When it comes to coffee, it depends.  A daily habit of a $5 specialty drink will run around $1,800 per year.  That’s substantial money that is not in your retirement fund, not buying nutritious food, and not taking you on vacation.  On the other hand, we’re a culture that struggles with self-care, and if buying a daily coffee is your way of loving yourself, it may be money well spent.

So what are people buying in this coffee shop, and is it worth the price?  The truth is, they’re buying different things, and getting different value for their money.  For example, a multitasking drive through patron that forgets her drink, lets it cool in the cup holder, and sends it still nearly full into the trash gets little value for her money – and therein sacrifices the other things her money could have bought to no gain.  On the other hand, when longtime friends catch up over a warm cup of joe, the value they experience may be priceless.

What's your intention?

It comes down to being intentional.  To having an understanding of your big picture and of what is genuinely valuable to you.  And it’s about finding the financial balance that honors the many things you care about, with none outweighing the others.  This means connection and awareness from your money to you, and back again.

You are the closest person to you, and are likely your own best teacher.  Still, getting beyond ourselves helps us to discover the truth within.  I am a Money Wellness Coach.  If connecting your money with your overall wellness is something your desire, VitalFinancials may be your path to bridging the gap between your money and you.