When reading Gary Keller’s “The One Thing,” he shared an ancient tale that really resonated with me. It’s about thinking of abundance and the pursuit of happiness.
The Begging Bowl
Upon coming out of his palace one morning and encountering a beggar, a king asks, “What do you want?” The beggar laughingly says, “You ask as though you can fulfill my desire!” Offended, the king replies, “Of course I can. What is it?” The beggar warns, “Think twice before you promise anything.”
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.
Stereotypically, gift-giving occasions are really fun for kids and really stressful for adults. In my household growing up, Christmas was stressful for me as a child because my parents never gave us gifts. So when we got back to school, the other kids would always show off their new toys and clothes and I would always make something up so I wouldn’t feel so odd.
However, no expectation of gifts means that as an adult, holidays, birthdays and Mother’s and Father’s day are completely stress-free. I can buy a gift if I want to but no one is expecting anything. If I buy a gift, it can’t be a disappointment, because there was no expectation of receiving anything from me. It relieves so much stress. Even my friends and I are sporadic gift-givers. Every year, the only gift I have to find is for my significant other.
And even that isn’t stressful because I love thinking about and shopping for gifts. I love thinking about what kinds of gifts would solve a problem or bring a smile. And it’s easy because it’s not stressful. I also realize that some of the best gifts don’t cost anything. Here are some free ideas I’ve been thinking about to help you guys out.
I tried to win the LearnVest contest for a story of pulling back when you’ve been too frugal. Well, I lost the contest but my story intrigued one of the editors enough to feature me in a story. And it’s currently the most commented (but I’m always afraid of internet comments so I haven’t read them. Tell me if they’re nice and I might dip my toe.) Go to Learnvest to read it now!