Hi, my name is C, and I’m a coffeeshopper

I’m not sure the twelve-step analogy is even a good one, because showing up at a meeting suggests you want to be cured…and it’s not clear that I do.

I’ve been needing for a while to crack down on my slush budget; I’ve been consistently $40 or $50 over basically every month for over a year. I can reroute the money from other places, of course — sinking funds, mostly, and sometimes minor extra income like a payment from Ebates or whatever — so it’s not like I’m taking on debt. But it bugs me. I typically allocate $150-180 to slush every month, and that feels like it ought to be enough!

So, what’s going on? Right now I only have data going back to August 2017. I didn’t pull the numbers together completely, but at a glance, I’d say that about 1/3 of my slush spending has been for subscriptions (hulu, amazon prime, the Washington Post), the occasional book or CD, and the occasional movie/theater/music ticket. A bit more has been to catch-all household-supplies purchases (a target trip or amazon order once every few months).

The rest is all on food.

I know partly what’s up with that. I am perfectly capable of cooking all my own vegetarian meals from scratch and living on under $300/month for food, but do I always? Heck no. I go in bursts on cooking, and other times default to buying meals out or more expensive but doesn’t-need-cooking food from the grocery store (I’m partial to cheese and crackers, and I mean expensive cheese.) The cross-country move has exacerbated that; I’m not living in my own house here, which makes cooking more of a pain, and also it’s a much bigger city than my previous one, with way more places to eat and substantially higher prices.

But wait, didn’t the subject line of this post say it was about coffeeshops?

Yes! The problem here is that I don’t have much willpower when it comes to food. That’s true for regular meals, as above, and it’s also true for coffeeshops.

I love, love, love a good coffeeshop. I especially love them when I need to do a stack of grading, because grading is the worst and most tedious part of my job, and it just helps to do it in a place with a nice latte. I will know that it’s nearly the end of the month, and I’ve already overspent, and still…. I feel about them the way some people feel about dating men that are clearly, obviously bad for them. I met a coffeeshop this weekend with the most beguiling pastry counter, the loveliest wooden tables, the nicest staff, the greatest windows, and what I’m saying is if I was in a bar and this coffeeshop walked up to me and said “How about handing over all your money” I would’ve said “HEY, handsome.” This morning I wasn’t teaching (but I did have my usual grading pile) and I drove over there and spent $19 for a totally delicious breakfast plus two uninterrupted hours of student papers and I’d do it again. In fact I definitely will do it again, because there’s no use pretending I’m suddenly going to be a different person than I am.

The only shred of hope here is that this infatuation might inspire me to eat more of my other meals at home, rather than paying for cheaper, but subpar, sandwiches and pizza. Maybe in March I can rebalance so I’m spending roughly as much on slush, but focused on things I’m more excited about?




2 thoughts on “Hi, my name is C, and I’m a coffeeshopper

  1. Sarah says:

    Haha, this is awesome. It’s good to know what we prioritize. I personally have never been able to work well in coffee shops (I prefer silent libraries), but I am totally on the same page as you regarding expensive cheese.

    Out of curiosity, where did your $150-$180 target for slush come from?

    1. thesingledollar says:

      You know, that’s a good question. It’s pretty much the number left over after I allocate fixed expenses (rent, mostly) and savings (long-term and sinking funds). It’s stayed fairly stable even though my salary increased a lot when I moved, because my rent also increased a lot.

      That said, if my expenses stayed fixed but my income went up, I wouldn’t suddenly start putting all the extra in slush. I’d increase my savings instead. $150ish just kind of feels about right for what I want to spend on slushy things (averaged over a year.)

Comments are closed.