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It’s an old adage that keeps coming around for me, applicable to so many aspects of everyday life. If you keep doing what everyone else is doing, you can only hope to get what everyone else is getting. Meanwhile, only 40 percent of Americans have enough income to completely pay off their credit card balance each month. The average American carries a balance of over $6,000 and, perhaps even more frightening, the average 45 to 54-year-old carries a credit card debt of over $9,000.

If you keep doing what everyone else is doing, you can only hope to face a similar kind of fate. Oh, and it’s estimated that about a third of Americans have less than $5,000 saved for retirement too. They’ll be working for the rest of the lives, since they can’t afford to retire, and their paychecks will just keep going toward paying down that credit card and other debt.

Given this kind of information, you might be tempted to conclude that the simplest solution to this problem is to rein in your spending. Cut back on the non-essentials, right?

The Latte Factor

One of the most common strategies you’ll hear has to do with the so-called latte effect. Many people who work conventional kinds of jobs go out and grab a cup of coffee each day. You can easily spend $5 or more on a latte. Multiply that through by about 250 working days a year, and you’re talking about $1,250. Multiply that by the 40 or so optimal working years, and you’re looking at $50,000, not including the opportunity cost and compound interest.

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So, clearly, you should stop visiting Starbucks, right? But what if you really enjoy your morning coffee and it really jump-starts your day?

latte

What if we were to look at a completely different lifestyle, almost completely devoid of modern luxuries. This person only drinks tap water, only wears free hand-me-downs, and doesn’t partake in any paid entertainment whatsoever. If you’re happy like that, then all the more power to you. For the rest of us, that doesn’t sound very fun at all. What’s life if it’s not enjoyable, right? If you cut everything from your life that brings you joy, then how is that even worth it?

Now, I’m not saying you should go out there and spend every last dime as if today were your last day on Earth. That’s foolish and irresponsible.

What I am saying is that you shouldn’t feel bad about spending money on the things that actually matter to you. You shouldn’t feel bad about paying for services that make your life easier, freeing up your time to make even more money or to enjoy life in ways otherwise not possible. And let’s not forget that saving money can actually cost you more if you’re not careful.

Beyond the Zero Sum Game

You could get a similar kind of caffeine jolt from a cheap cup of generic store-brand coffee you brew at home, but maybe there’s something more to the fancy coffee experience that brings you great joy. That’s okay! It just means you have to choose to cut back in areas that don’t matter as much to you.

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The cheap IKEA furniture will do just as well as the expensive designer furniture, right? Similarly, if you detest house cleaning with a passion, go ahead and pay for a maid service. That’ll give you more time to focus on your Internet marketing business or your YouTube channel.

credit card

Particularly when you work from home as an online professional, you are already saving thousands of dollars compared to the more conventional situation. If paying for food delivery services make it easier for you to focus on your business, then go for it. If outsourcing your SEO or copywriting means can dedicate more of your time and energy into funnel development, the part of the business you really love, then that’s the way to do it.

When you pay for what actually matters, it means you save time for what matters to you too.

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