13 August 2013

Good riddance to the latte myth

Today I read a post on Helaine Olen's Money blog that presented evidence debunking the latte myth -- you know the one. It is the belief espoused by personal finance experts that if we all denied ourselves luxuries like buying a cup of coffee on the way to work every day, we could get our financial houses in order. Olen's post is a good one and reminded me that I want to read her book Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry.

I've spent a good bit of my reading time over the years poring over advice from the Suze Ormans and the Dave Ramseys of the world, hoping to find some nugget of information that would help me and ABM manage our finances better. Finally, I decided a few years ago to swear off budget books. It had gotten to the point that whenever I read "make your coffee at home instead of buying it at Starbucks", I wanted to through the offending book across the room. Coffeehouse coffee is a treat for us, not a daily expense, so suggestions like that aren't helpful. As Olen's post suggests, normal expenses are what is eating up most people's paychecks: rent, medical bills, food, etc. There are a lot of us who are spending beyond our means not to have luxuries, but because we have more bills that we have money.

Although I stuck to my decision to eschew personal finance books, I'm afraid that I am filling that hole with frugal living blogs. They go a step further than the budget books because they give you tips on things like how to feed your family on $200 a month or how to make your own laundry detergent. I rarely try any of the suggestions but at least I feel that I could, unlike when I read the budget books and know that the authors aren't talking to me.
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