Buy the Latte

Why I’ll Never Tell You To Stop Buying Your Latte


stop buying your latte

Let’s openly talk about mental health and money.
Specifically, how we spend it and why I’ll never tell you to stop buying your latte.

When it comes to money; shame, guilt, lack, deprivation are pervasive emotions.  Finance advisors, experts, bloggers are making their money by selling you inadequacy. They tell us we are spending our money wrong.  To stop buying that latte!

But when is a latte not a latte?

Money & Mental Health

We have a tendency in our society to treat every topic as discrete. Meaning this 1 thing is completely separate from this other 1 thing.  Physics is physics.  Biology is biology.  Math is math.  Money is money.  Mental health, well, is something we don’t talk about.

Or if we talk about mental health, it is assumed that we mean we are talking about being crazy or being weak.  But mental health and mental wellness encompass so much more than “not being crazy” or “not right in the head”.

It is how we are coping with our world.  With all the stresses in our lives, how is that impacting our wellbeing? Sometimes conditions are good and it’s smooth sailing.  Sometimes we hit stormy seas and we are being tossed side-to-side, throwing us off balance.

Money is often one of those stressors. Sometimes they are huge storms like a lay-off or medical debt.  Sometimes they are the constant itch of poison ivy, like not getting ahead in your budget and living paycheck to paycheck.  Money is often the cause of much of our mental woes.

Even if it’s not the cause, it’s intertwined. Layered in.  With any problem, the first question is usually “How are we going to pay for that?”

Mental Well-Being is Not Constant

There was a time in my life where I was in stormy seas.  I was working at a dead-end mind-numbing job.

A couple of months before, my 7-year relationship with someone whom I thought I was going to marry ended.  In addition, to be heartbroken, I was unemployed, broke and had student loans to repay.  That meant I had to move back in with my parents. I had a very toxic relationship with them for much of my life. They lived in a city I didn’t particularly like.  It was also a city where I had no friends or connections.

I had nowhere else to go. I was at a low point in my life, so I took that unfiling job to make ends meet.

And We Kick Ourselves When We Are Down

The funny thing about hitting a rough patch is how much we blame ourselves for it.  We either think ‘if only” I had done something else or maybe I beat myself up because I think I should have done more.  And then we pile on additional blame for whichever way we choose to deal with it.

Because I was living at home, broke with large student loans, I felt I had to take that crappy job.  I blamed myself for being such a loser.

Along with all that self-recrimination, I was also kicking myself for spending what little money I made on coffee!  God, can’t I do anything right?

Haven’t we all heard that buying our daily coffee is costing us thousands of dollars a year?  If I really wanted to get out of debt and move out, shouldn’t I be saving every dollar I could? Every dollar counted, right?

I knew I shouldn’t be spending the money.  But guilt wasn’t enough to stop curb my caffeine habit.

Why It Is OK to Buy That Latte

Every morning, I would get to work 20 minutes early and buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks.  I would sit in the cafe and people watch.  It was a moment of peace.  A moment where I didn’t have to carry my burdens.  I could lose myself in watching others. It gave me a break from my life.

Buying that cup of coffee each morning; it was my only social interaction for the whole day.  That short, micro-interaction with the barista meant so much to me.  At least they smiled at me and they asked me what I’d like.  They remembered my order after seeing me for a few weeks.  It made me feel seen.  I was so incredibly lonely and isolated.  With no support system.  I took whatever I could get. Their smile kept me going another day.

What Was That Coffee Really Buying?

Looking back, I now realize that I was buying tiny slivers of mental health with every coffee I bought.

I bought just enough mental health to get me through another day and sometimes, we are just taking it one day at a time.  That’s ok.

Somethings aren’t as obvious as it seems on the surface.  To an outsider, it’s just another cup of coffee.  But to me, it was my battle armour. No, it was my lifeline to another day.

Your Money Decisions Don’t Have to Be Permanent

If you need to buy peace of mind or a shot of confidence, go for it.

What I’ve learned is that we recognize it’s only a temporary measure to get to the next step. We can’t afford to lose sight of treating the symptoms for treating the cause.

But it is 100% ok to buy a life jacket if you are drowning. Once you get your life jacket on, you can use that money to buy what you really need.

Feeling guilty for that coffee was hampering me from ever truly getting that life jacket on. That guilt served no purpose. We think if we feel guilty, it’s punishment so we won’t do it again. But we will because despite what we’ve been lead to believe, we do actually need to buy that item. It’s not a mere flippant want.

Eventually, my days did get better.  I made changes and no circumstance lasts forever.  After a while, I no longer needed to buy that cup of coffee for my mental health.  I could just buy it to enjoy it.

So go ahead and buy that latte.  You’ll feel better.

If you are really struggling, know that you are not alone.  We have all felt this way at some point.  Some of us might be feeling it right now.  Reach out.  You are not bothering anyone.  I promise.

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3 thoughts on “Why I’ll Never Tell You To Stop Buying Your Latte”

  1. This is such a thoughtful post. It’s a very unique take on the shaming of latte purchasing… and I love the idea that “it is 100% ok to by a life jacket if you are drowning.” We have no idea what is motivating other people to buy the things that bring them joy, but we should be kinder in not rushing in to judge them.

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