Life feels like it has been in the fast lane for me lately! Don’t get me wrong- I mostly love it. I’ve been working full time in cardiology, followed by mountain adventures every weekend. The summer so far has been an incredibly fun blur, with minimal downtime or time at home. Plans changed this weekend however, so I found myself with a “home weekend” and medium exhaustion. Saturday afternoon I decided to relax and read a book I purchased a while back. To be honest my expectations for it were low (shown by the fact that a financial book had sat unread in my house; that’s rare). The book was called “The Latte Factor” and I assumed based on the title that it was going to tell me to cut my spending. I’ve been grappling with accepting my spending on weekend trips, so I wasn’t sure it was advice I wanted to read. However, I can admit when I was wrong (about a book, anyhow). It’s funny how sometimes things come into your life at the exact moment you need them to. I ended up liking the book so much that I finished it in one day, and there were a few lines in it that struck me including “live rich now”.
Is my spending ok?
As I mentioned, I’ve been feeling some mild guilt about how much I’ve been spending on “fun” this summer. I’m not going on glamorous getaways by any means. We’ve been camping, hiking, and rock climbing so it’s low cost activities. It’s still minimum $100 for every trip away however (mostly due to gas- it’s a 4 hour drive each way for me to get mountain time). When you go every weekend, it adds up.
However, I’ve been feeling excited about my summer! This will be the most mountain time I’ve ever packed into a summer, which makes me dang happy. Plus, I tucked money aside for these trips (by following the only budget method that has ever worked for me) so I’m paying for them with savings. Why not just enjoy it?
There’s always a little voice in my head that says “Don’t forget you have lots of debt…. maybe the money should go to that instead”.
Black and white thinking is easy; finding balance is HARD.
The Latte Factor
So, back to this book by David Bach and John Mann.
I was nervous to read it because I didn’t want it to make me feel more guilt than I already was. Much to my surprise, it took that guilt away.
The Latte Factor is not like any other financial book I’ve read. It reads like a novel with 27 year old Zoey as the main character. She’s lost in life, and feels like she’s on a hamster wheel heading no where. Both the character and her feelings of quiet dissatisfaction are incredibly relatable: Everything is fine, but nothing is great. Life doesn’t seem to have meaning.
Zoey is convinced that if she just earns more money, everything will be better. She will finally be able to pay off her student loans and have a life. She applies for a different job that pays more, even though she enjoys her current position.
Zoey meets an elderly man in a coffee shop who teaches her about life and money through a series of events and simple lessons. As he states:
“Your dreams are important. They’re more than important; they’re like oxygen. Without them, your life suffocates”.
Sometimes in the financial world we focus so much on retirement and saving money for later. The result is glossing over how important it is to also enjoy life right now. This book was an incredible reminder of that. It shows that you don’t need an astronomical salary to set yourself up for a comfortable retirement AND an epic life now.
If you feel lost and like you’re at a confusing crossroads trying to find meaning, give this book a read. The advice is simple, but that’s why it’s powerful. It shows you how to come as close to your version of “having it all” as you possibly can.
What does this mean for me?
It dawned on me that I’m actually doing what the author suggests: Live rich now. I am living what my current dream life is. It’s not glamorous: I rent a basement suite (that I love), have massive student loans (that I’m paying off), and live a fairly low cost lifestyle (by necessity and choice). However, I’m damn happy. I love my social group, I work at a job I typically enjoy, and I get to be incredibly active outdoors each weekend. I’ve found a balance between being content with my “now” while making financial decisions that will provide a good “later”. As the author describes: consistent payments and savings over time are like an axe to a tree. Eventually the tree will fall, even if it doesn’t seem like progress is being made now.
I suppose once I’m done sipping my coffee I’ll go explore and see what the day brings. Financially I’m doing enough, so now I just get to enjoy the rest. Maybe balance isn’t so hard after all?
“Live rich now. Not in some far-off future. Today”
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