Responding to Miss Self-Important's inaugural post, PG writes:
I'd say it's also almost always ok to spend on things that will contribute significantly to your emotional well-being on a daily basis. For me, that's getting a cleaning service every few weeks -- it's worth the money not ever to have to deal with arguing over who has let gunk accumulate in the microwave, or whose turn it is to scrub the toilet. For other people, that can be anything from pet-ownership to yoga classes. The main thing is that it relieve the stress of daily life, not just create an occasional high.
Indeed! This was what so frustrated me about that article that came out a while back advising The Youth to give up their regular trips to Starbucks and the like, because over time, you'll save big. (Of course, this, like all 'who knew?' savings tips, presumes a switch from near-daily latte consumption to total elimination - results would be far less dramatic for those who fail to start at one extreme or end up at the other.) But suppose that latte is the difference between you enjoying the period from 4pm to the end of the workday and you napping at your desk? Or at the library, as I'd have done yesterday, had I not sprung for a cappuccino that was, somewhat embarrassingly, more expensive than my lunch. (Yes, I'm lucky to go to school near a Two Boots, where a top-notch slice is $2.50.) Is the joy of saving money in increments of $2 or $3 so great that it's worth cutting back in one especially noticeable area? Or is the point to condemn immediate gratification for the sake of condemning immediate gratification, without consideration for the actual cost/benefit of the latte in question?
The larger point here is... what PG said, but also that, while thrift generally can be encouraged, urging the elimination across-the-board of one particular expenditure - unless it's, say, bathing in caviar - is rarely helpful, and is likely to just be unnecessarily judgmental. Doing so fails to account for the different roles The Latte plays in different people's lives - for some it's just one more thing that could easily be eliminated, and for others (ahem, humanities grad students), it's one indulgence in an otherwise ascetic lifestyle. Sometimes people need an excuse to step outside of their offices or the library for a couple minutes. Starbucks exists to give non-smokers that excuse.