spending money

Skipping the Latte Could Cost You: Why Cutting Back Can Sometimes Cost You More

I’ve been dropping into my favorite coffee shop for years. Then, amid the buzz over the economy and what a waste of money my lattes were, I stopped. Afterward, I found that while passing that coffee shop I missed the smell, the people, the “me time.” This combined with my inferior ability to make a cup of Joe made me realize this experiment was turning into a latte nonsense.

We often hear about what we can’t and shouldn’t do. But modern psychology again and again shows us that it’s not all black and white. A little splurge can be good for you; just sitting somewhere for a moment in thought isn’t a waste of time. Even what we know about caffeine has changed. Here are some reasons skipping that latte actually could be bad for your well being.

The Savoring Truth

Stopping into the coffee shop was a pleasurable way to start my day. Now that the world has dubbed it an ill-advised thing to do, I even stand to gain more pleasure from it, according to Australian researchers. In a study for Weight Watchers reported in the Daily Mail, they found that those who indulge experience bouts of stress relief and feelings of happiness. Watching reality TV, an impulse buy, skipping the gym…all these things can bring on temporary feelings of happiness and stress relief. I don’t recommend you lay at home all day watching The Bachelor and shopping on eBay, but there is something to be said about a brief mood boost from a simple pleasure.

How many work issues could you resolve just by pondering them over coffee? According to experts at Children’s Hospital Boston, a lot. Self-reflection not only helps you, it can help you better communicate with co-workers. “Sharing reflections with other staff members can help develop more effective strategies, with the added benefit of working as a team,” the researchers reported. “These are all-important ingredients for sound decision-making, staff skill development, appropriate service delivery, and effective staff communication.”

So, instead of carrying a grudge for someone who’s grinding on your nerves, skip away for a latte. Imaging the damage that could be spared from an activity the world has shunned as an expensive, fattening waste of time.

Your Friend the Coffee Bean

Being too isolated could make you sick, according to psychologist Martha K. McClintock of the University of Chicago. In her study on rodents, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, she found that social isolation affects the longevity of rats. “Isolation led to a higher production of a stress hormone, corticosterone, among rats that were kept
alone and subjected to the disturbances of colony life,” the report indicates. “Additionally, the isolated rats took longer to recover from a stressful situation than rats that lived together in small groups. “This level of stress and its duration made the solo rats “prone to malignancy in late-middle age,” researchers reported.

When you frequent a certain haunt, you have the opportunity to make friends with the staff and the regulars. Not only is this a fantastic networking tool, it just feels good to walk into a place every day and see people you know (cue the Cheers theme).

A Drop of Financial Advice

So how bad is it to spend money on that morning latte? Let’s just say you purchase a $6 latte five days a week on the way to work. That’s $30 a week, on par with treating your friend to lunch. Why is treating your friend to lunch not guilt-inducing, but a morning latte is?

According to Suze Orman, you shouldn’t go too crazy on restricting yourself during a budget makeover or it could lead to sabotage. “Don’t try to give up all your favorite things at once. If you go cold turkey, you will explode,” she said in an article for Yahoo! Shine.

The Coffee Cure

Coffee is the devil? It makes you nervous, causes insomnia and will make your taxes double? Let’s turn this argument on its head and at least show the benefits of our friend Joe. For example, WebMD reports that coffee drinkers are less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and dementia. Coffee drinkers also have fewer instances of certain cancers, strokes, and heart arrhythmia. Caffeine makes pain relievers 40% more effective in treating headaches. And let’s not forget the other component to a latte – milk. We all know it builds strong bones, but it also may fend off certain cancers.

Let it Percolate

Sure, we’ve all seen the pitfalls of spending beyond our means or having a caffeine crash. But doesn’t it stand to reason that the more we deny ourselves the more we stand to lose in the long run? We deserve life’s little pleasures, and science says we need it.

Brendan Cruickshank (Vice President of Client Services) – Brendan is a veteran of the online job search and recruiting industry, having spent the past 8 years in senior client services roles with major sites like Juju.com and JobsInTheMoney.com. He is quoted regularly as an expert in employment and jobs trends in major media outlets like the Washington Post, US News & World Report, and Forbes and has spoken at recruiting industry events such as Onrec and Kennedy Information’s Corporate Recruiting Conference.