As we were trying to buy a house for our growing family, my husband and I kept looking at ways to live financially leaner than we already did. We don’t take vacations, so that was already a savings. We shop around for better deals on diapers and wipes. We are in the process of cutting cable. We found a less expensive daycare.
I kept reading every piece of financial advice I could find, looking for something else we could cut. One item kept popping up — coffee. “Cut your daily cup of coffee!” “Make your own!” “Use your office’s coffee machine!” implored bloggers galore.
That’s going to be a big, huge no from me.
Why? Why can’t I make that cut in my budget? Because you’ve got to give me something.
Before kids, my husband and I had a weekly date night at the 99, a local chain that features cheap drinks and trusty food. Occasionally, I would go out for a drink with friends. We had season tickets for our alma mater’s hockey games. We weren’t kings and queens of the nightlife, but we enjoyed going out when we could.
All that ended when our children came along. Our only date nights now are our family and friends’ weddings. We gave up our hockey tickets. We wistfully drive past the 99 and wave. (I miss those $4 margaritas.) We eat in every single day, every single meal. That’s more than a fair exchange — both the cost and time savings of giving up those indulgences benefits my children.
But the coffee is a non-negotiable. Yes, if I stopped spending $3 a day on a cup of coffee, I would save even more money. But visiting a coffee shop — even if it happens to be Dunkin’ or Starbucks — and trying something new or having a trusty standby allows me the lone chance I have these days to go out.
It takes all of five or ten minutes along my daily commute. Sometimes I’ll try a new coffee shop somewhere in Boston, sometimes I’ll try a new flavor, or sometimes I’ll try something hot that I typically have iced (iced always being my default, as it is with so many New Englanders).
It’s one indulgent and frivolous habit that, even in motherhood, I refuse to let go of. It brings me back to my teenage years and those rare occurrences when I was allowed to go to a coffee shop with friends. There were only four in our western New York city to choose from (Spin, Spot, Starbucks, and — the only one that didn’t start with an “S” — Moonbeans). My friends and I didn’t go often, but when we did, it was the biggest deal in the world. When I grow up, I’m going to go get coffee out as regularly as I can, 15-year-old me thought.
So I do.
In an era where we are all about reminding mothers to engage in self-care, buying a coffee is my self-care. More popular self-care activities just don’t fit for me — mom getaways are pricey, spa treatments make me feel awkward, and I have horrendous luck with quality purses. Let me go to a coffee shop, have a brief conversation about the weather with a stranger in line, and enjoy a cup of coffee someone else makes for me. That’s my self-care. Some sacrifices just aren’t worth your sanity.