Let’s talk about coffee.

A grande chestnut praline latte at Starbucks such as the one I purchased this morning costs a whopping $5.93. Six dollars for what amounts to little more than a blend of milk, sugar, and syrups.

Buying a Starbucks coffee is something of a treat for myself. Despite knowing how much I value this guilty pleasure and the lift a good coffee drink brings to my morning, I internally agonize every time I find myself craving a fix. In fact, the only reason I inevitably cave in to the purchase without feeling guilty is by way of compensating in other places.

For instance, if I brought my lunch in 4 out of 5 days of the week, I’ll allow myself to indulge. If, however, I made multiple extraneous purchases over the course of the week, the move to buying a Starbucks drink weighs heavily on my chest for days on end.


What induces such a phenomenon? I recently came across this very question being asked on a Reddit thread, and I am inclined to agree with one answer: social pressure.

When making a solo purchase, there is no one around to gently nudge you into spending those few extra dollars just because. It’s just you, your conscience and several refreshes of your Mint account to make sure you can afford it. If however, you find yourself in a setting like a bar or any group outing where everyone is making ludicrous purchases and spending outside the norm, then, well…

As the old saying goes “If all your friends jumped off of a cliff, wouldn’t you?” The FOMO and peer pressure is real.

These past few years have brought on a wave of new social anxieties, primarily driven by Instagram (in my opinion.) The effects of watching others’ lives unfold on a platform, purportedly full of success, endless riches and eternal happiness have inevitably gone on to affect aspects of our lives like spending habits.

“Oh, that person is the same age as I am and somehow has money to live their best life. Why shouldn’t I do the same?” “FashionNova models EVERYWHERE!” “Sponsored ad showing me products from the brand that I was just talking about? Why not?”

The point I’d like to make is that if you’re feeling guilty about a seemingly small purchase like a $5 coffee, but think that an $8 cocktail is fine because it’s “happy hour” then…you really need to reconsider your priorities and take a good hard look at your finances.

Be careful not to get swept away in one of the worst types of peer pressure in your mid-twenties – spending frivolously. Even if people are telling you (okay fine, telling me) that now is the time to spend like there’s no tomorrow, they’re wrong.

Invest in yourself today. Don’t buy the overpriced coffee or the outrageously expensive martini. Ask yourself this – can I live without it? Can I find an alternative or substitute immediately that will quench that craving? There’s a fine line between treating yourself, and earning that treat.

Earning it somehow always makes it taste better.

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