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Why It’s OK To Buy Yourself That Peppermint Moche Latte (and Other Little Splurges)

Joshua Trujillo / Starbucks

Joshua Trujillo / Starbucks

It’s the holiday season and after the last two years we’ve had, a holiday-centric caffeine treat is much needed. Coffee can be the perfect complement to any day during the winter seasons. However, some of you might be hesitant this holiday season to buy those lattes if you’re a millennial who’s been told the reason you can’t afford to buy a house is because you’ve been blowing all your money on lattes. Please know that whoever is telling you this is wrong.

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In fact, the reason you can’t afford a house is far more complex than a frothy menu choice at Starbucks can cover. You’ve probably got massive student loan debt and are navigating your still-young career through its second devastating financial time. You’ve also likely started actively saving for retirement at a relatively young age. 

Ranked: The Best States for Millennials To Buy a Home

Lattes and other delightful culinary treats (see avocado toast) may be indulgent, and surely skimping on them will save you some money; but is it really enough to make a difference? The answer depends, of course.

If you’re dropping $7 with tip a day for a venti confection at the local Starbucks, that’s almost $2,400 a year — enough to purchase a new Mac laptop, a Peloton or even a couple vacations. But if you aren’t recklessly spending on indulgences, there’s good reason to go ahead and splurge on something as ridiculously fleeting as an overpriced latte. Here’s a look at six reasons why.

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1. If Your ‘Financial Diet’ Is Too Strict, You’re More Likely To Give Up On It 

“We can’t think of personal finance only as math, because we are not robots: We have to live life and take care of ourselves and each other,” said Ilian Georgiev, CEO and co-founder of Charlie, a personal finance app. “The goal of personal finance is to get the most bang for our buck; not to save every single penny.”

But success in personal finances, as Georgiev puts it, is a marathon, not a sprint — and if you give yourself a financial diet that leaves no room for fun; you’ll likely abandon it altogether. 

“The most important thing is to stay motivated and derive joy out of it. You should not deprive yourself of everything that makes you happy because, inevitably, you will drop out of the race altogether and revert to the behavior that got you in trouble in the first place.”

Plan Ahead: Why You Should Start Budgeting Now for 2022

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2. Sporadic Splurges Lift Your Mood  

“It’s OK, and actually beneficial, to treat yourself on occasion with a latte,” said  R.J. Weiss, a certified financial planner and founder of the personal finance site The Ways to Wealth. “Research has shown the rare treat to have a positive effect on your mood. It’s when you turn a treat into a daily habit, where it stops becoming beneficial.”

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3. An Occasional Splurge Won’t Hurt Your Finances in the Long Run

2020 was an incredibly difficult year, which to Weiss, makes the occasional spurge on a pricey latte or a cookie in the shape of a snowflake all the more worthwhile. More importantly, the once-in-awhile splurge won’t make a difference in your overall finances, so don’t waste your time or emotion worrying about it.

“Instead, use your limited energy and willpower to focus on what matters,” said Weiss. “And, for most, what matters is controlling housing and transportation expenses, while maximizing their income.”

See: 8 Surprising Industries That Are Thriving — and Have Millennials To Thank

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4. You Can Get Cash Back And Other Perks

“You can earn cash back through apps like Dosh— just link your credit card to earn money back on your purchases from coffee shops like Dunkin Donuts and others,” said Woroch. The app works with many of the stores you already shop at regularly — including Costco and Sephora. 

The money gets deposited into PayPal or directly to your bank account,” Woroch said. Then, snap a picture of your receipt and upload it to Fetch Rewards to earn points good toward retail gift cards like Target, Amazon and Walmart.

Watch Out: 16 Key Signs That You Will Always Be In Debt

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5. It’s Important To Celebrate Your Achievements 

“If you’ve made progress on your financial goals, then it’s OK to reward yourself with a few treats and splurges that won’t entirely throw your financial goals off track,” said personal finance podcaster Maggie Tucker

Read: 19 Effective Ways To Tackle Your Budget

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6. Great Things Come in Small Purchases

From civil unrest to economic turmoil, a pandemic and more than a few climate change disasters, the last year has completely upended everyone’s lives. Some days are harder than others and for many of us the “big things” in life aren’t going so well.

Maybe we’re going through a divorce or our business just went under because of the pandemic, or we’re really, really missing someone who isn’t with us. Small splurges can’t solve our problems or heal our broken hearts, but they can give us just a little taste of joy when we need it most. It can also provide us with some potentially much needed human interaction — even if the barista spells your name wrong. 

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