Invest, Don’t Spend: Maximize Every Dollar

Wed, Apr 10, 2024

Stop spending. It’s a complete and total waste. 

You should never spend anything ever again. I mean that. 

And not just with money (although especially with money). Stop spending time. Stop spending energy. Stop spending thoughts. Stop spending. Instead, do this. 

Every single “expenditure” should be an investment. 

This isn’t difficult to do; it just requires rethinking how you think about your outputs. Sometimes, all it takes for something to become an investment is to think about it like one. My favorite example is $7 lattes.

“My drink” is an oat milk latte with honey and cinnamon. It’s $7. There’s no reason any of us (regardless of our socioeconomic situation) should be drinking $7 lattes. It’s an unjustifiably absurd indulgence. But I love them. It’s not unheard of that sometimes I have two in a day.

If all I’m doing is spending money on lattes, it’s an absolute waste. All I have is a coffee habit that could cover a decent car payment every month. 

However, when I stop and reframe, it changes everything. 

When I buy that $7 coffee, the question is: How is this an investment?

I don’t just love the lattes, I love the ceremony. I love going to my favorite coffee shop, talking to my favorite baristas, sitting on my favorite outdoor patio, and doing my favorite thing (bouncing between reading and working). I will quite literally sit there for hours, happy and productive.

When I allow myself this little indulgence, I get far more done and can work for much longer periods. And because I treat it like an investment, it puts me in the mental frame necessary to take my time, enjoy myself, and soak up the returns on my $7. 

I can’t think of another $7 investment that could yield close to the same returns. And now, my expectations for coffee excursions are insanely high, especially when I’m traveling. I won’t “spend” my money at just any coffee place. It has to be worthy of my investment.

I’m not saying you should run around like a neurotic psychopath demanding a % yield on every quarter you put into a vending machine. But…

When you feel a tinge of guilt or even just incongruence when you’re about to make an expenditure, let that be the trigger.

Ask yourself, “How is this an investment?” The answer is often apparent. 

Once you have an answer, it helps you know precisely how to utilize that purchase properly. Sometimes, you realize it can’t be, no matter how you frame it. That’s always my cue to walk away. 

The other thing I love about this exercise is that it helps you understand your motives. 

I have the (bad?) habit of diving for the check any time I’m eating out with friends. When I stop and consider the reason for my investment, I often satiate some level of insecurity. 

Only occasionally. Sometimes, it’s just because I love the people I’m with, and that’s one small way to show it. 

That’s the fun of the investment framing: It doesn’t allow me to hide from myself. 

I understand why I might be doing it, which helps me acknowledge if there’s a deeper issue.

I love the idea that we demand a return on every expenditure. It puts us in a position of having positive expectations of life. 

What do you think? What’s an investment for you that other people might think of as a frivolous expense?