There are a lot of reasons to spend money and each of us has his or her own. Our attitudes and perspectives are forged over lifetimes spent earning and spending and enjoying and regretting. I can look at any number of purchases and feel that I have made a good buying decision. I can look at a similar number and know that I made a mistake. Fortunately, the older I get, the greater the number of good decisions so I hope I am on the right track.
This past week, for example, I bought a gravity tea pot and a pound of loose leaf tea from an out of state vendor. For the past forty-plus years, I have been a tea drinker, but the tea was always delivered in a tea bag. Although I enjoyed it, I now recognize that the tea I bought in the grocery story was not particularly flavorful. I enjoyed it, but I did not enjoy it as much as I might have. A couple of weeks ago, however, I discovered Tavalon Tea at a local bakery. I was hooked from the first sip and found myself “needing” at least one cup per day, at $2 per cup. I also found myself enjoying the experience of watching the tea drop out of the bottom of the gravity tea pot that the bakery uses to brew the tea.
After spending about $20 on tea within a week, I knew I needed to find another way to get my tea fix. I found the Tavalon website and learned that I could buy a pound of New York City Breakfast Tea for $28 plus shipping (about $5). That works out to about 27 cents per cup. If I purchase in greater bulk, the price will drop to 22 cents per cup. I also bought a gravity tea pot from a local vendor for $15 and can enjoy the novelty of it when I brew my own tea. With the tea bags that I bought in my local store, by comparison, I paid about 14 cents per cup so there was still savings, but the value of the experience was far less. Given that I drink about 15 cups of tea per day (at a minimum), I want the experience to be good and the value to maximized. I think I have found that.
There are a lot of good reasons to spend and one huge reason, in particular, not to spend. Here are some of my spending guidelines, developed over forty plus years of purchasing mistakes:
Buy Because You Need It: He who dies with the most money in the bank is still dead. It is not worth a bizarre obituary that talks about all of the money that you have left stuffed in your mattress. If you have considered your needs and determined that you need something, go out and buy it if you can afford it. Don’t be frugal to a fault. Whether “need” means groceries or a night on the town is irrelevant. Know what you want and buy it if you can do so responsibly.
Buy It Because You Want It: Sometimes, you want a new toy. That’s OK. If you have disposable income and buying a new toy is not taking food off the table, buy the toy. Some of you can afford a new car because you have been frugal for the past ten years. Go out and buy it if you want it. Others might want to take a nice vacation. Maybe a new toy means a new iPod or something smaller. Whatever it is, buy it and enjoy it if you can do so responsibly.
Buy It Because You Have Better Things To Do: Sometimes, I will pay a few extra dollars for something that I do not really need to buy, but that will save me time so that I can work on a money-making project. If I need to cook dinner for my family but I know that take out will cost $30 and a project that I can finish for a client will earn me $300, the cost of take-out becomes a cost of doing business.
Don’t Buy It Because You Are Lazy: If I continued to purchase my tea at the bakery, it would have been lazy of me. I took the time to order my tea and to get my tea pot. Now I will save close to $1.75 each time I brew a pot of tea. If I had continued to purchase tea at the bakery, it would have been lazy of me and a waste of both time and money. Now I can enjoy my tea and feel that I have made a better buying decision.
What have you learned about spending over the years? What can you share with us to help guide better purchasing patterns? And if you can recommend a good source for loose leaf tea, let us know that, too.