Yesterday, I was at a gala event where it was encouraged to take the centerpieces after the event. My dad reached for our centerpiece, which looked like leftover Valentine’s day bouquets full of pink and red carnations and roses, but I shooed him away because I saw that there were much better centerpieces from the front tables. Yes, these centerpieces were nearly twice as big, and had snapdragons and lilies and foliage. I guarded my bouquet while I waited for my dad to bring the car around. On their way out, a duo of women whom I thought were friends of my dad, looked at my bouquet and asked if they could swap my bouquet with theirs. One woman was a board member, she said. And honestly, I felt like I was trapped in an etiquette quagmire. Yes, that was rude of them to ask. But they were old women. And so I swapped my beautiful bouquet for her crappy bouquet.
I don’t think you can even write about personal finance without addressing the so-called “latte factor.” A long time ago (the 90s) a personal finance writer named David Bach coined the term to express the idea that you could build up wealth by redirecting your small time expenditures into savings.
I’m of two minds on this. On the first mind, I think, even though I don’t drink much coffee, the cost/benefit ratio of quitting a daily coffee habit seems low. Assuming you incur no additional expenses (say, you cut out a $2 coffee every day and switch to tap water in a water bottle you already own), derive no additional benefit from your coffee than the actual coffee, invest that money and wait for it to grow, and there isn’t a market downturn, you can have, $55,000 over 40 years. But you had to make the choice 14,600 times (40*365, assuming that you are only tempted to get coffee once per day). You get a year of retirement savings after making 14,600 perfectly correct decisions.
I think I’m actually quite good at ignoring other people’s opinions – about certain things. I’ve always had my own sense of style, grating personality, and my weird hipster tendencies. But I also have a high threshold for pain and misery. I mean I’ve worked as an attorney in a law firm for almost 5 years, and I lived with appendicitis for a few years.
So recently I was invited to a baby shower. And I know this makes me a terrible person, but I hate baby showers. Or at least I hate it when only women are invited to these things – as if raising children is just a woman’s job. And then you play these stupid gross games like eating baby food. And you don’t even know each other that well, unlike at bridal showers, where you might be all really good friends. And then you just talk about baby stuff and there’s often no booze!
So I went shopping for something off the registry, and I was figuring out my train ride back from a little vacation I was having so that I could make it back for the baby shower. And then it occurred to me, I don’t have to go. I could give the gift ahead of time and spend the time I would have spent at the baby shower, doing anything I wanted to do.