More Mangoes, More Money
By Scott Dawson, MS, CFP®
Mangoes are relatively new in my life. My mother never bought them. My friends never ate them and so it wasn’t until I was first exposed to mangoes on a surf trip with my brother to Ecuador in 2008. On that trip, I had my first taste and ate one every day and also ordered fresh mango drinks, which consisted of pureed mango and water, with meals. My brother commented, at one point near the end of the trip, “another mango!” Ever since that trip, my brother has consistently given me a mango for my birthday or Christmas.
As I eat my lunch today, which includes a mango, I was thinking about how the spending decisions we make every day affect our finances. As a consumer, I am very aware of what I purchase. I do my best to purchase things that I value, but am very cost conscious as well. I was raised to save a portion of what I earned and spend no more than needed.
Besides valuing mangoes, I also value eating well with cost in mind. For example, I bring my lunch to work almost every day. A typical lunch consists of a peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread, fruit, and tap water. I love my lunches. They are healthy, tasty, and low cost. The alternative would be to eat out for lunch every day. I could pick up a burrito, sushi, or Thai, but it will definitely cost me a lot more than my typical lunch. My typical lunch probably costs $2 and takeout would cost me anywhere from $7-10. The additional savings does add up over the year. A $5-8/day lunch savings, based on 240 working days, amounts to $1,200-1,900/year. Would eating lunch out on a regularly basis bring me enough joy to justify the extra $1,200-1,900 difference. To some, the answer is yes, but to me it doesn’t. I would rather spend the extra savings on a vacation, which is an experience rather a material item, for example. Studies have shown that experiences bring us much more happiness than material things. I have found this to be true for me.
This is one example of how I think and spend on things I care about without feeling like I’m depriving myself or sacrificing my pleasure. I really don’t feel like I’m missing out by bringing my lunch. Everyone is unique and believe there are opportunities to examine what we truly care about and take action to reduce spending on things that we might not value and reallocate those savings to things that you really do care about and value. For me I bring my lunch to work, for you, it is ________?