I HATE when I feel compelled to weigh in on stupid shit but it is hard to bite my tongue in certain cases…
I am sure you have all read THE POST that spawned the avocado toast backlash that will forever go down in history as the one item that could knock the $4 latte off the FI stage. Thank fucking god…I hate coffee and could never truly relate. I would much rather debate an avocado as the reason no one can afford to save, so here we go…
First off, GenXer here…I feel the need to state that as this slanderous attack was thrown directly at my good friends, The Millennials. But seriously folks, this issue is not generation based – it is stupidity based. Yes, I said it. As a whole, people are financially stupid. What? You never made a financial mistake in your life?? Just wait, you will. And when you do, feel free to come back and tell us all about it! I promise not to chastise you because I have been stupid too. But to get straight to the point, this whole avocado toast thing has been completely blown out of proportion, on both sides.
Now, I don’t live in Australia so I can’t speak to the cost of food there, but I am certain it would be hard to find avocado toast for $19. I did a little research and it seems Australia has been hurt by the global avocado crisis as much as we have and currently the price per fruit has spike to $3 (this is the most research I have done for any post ever). As an avocado connoisseur, I happen to make such a toast quite frequently (AND I throw soft-boiled egg on top) and the average cost is $1 per fruit which makes 2 toasts! If the price in Australia is currently $3, that suggests $1.50 per toast with a restaurant mark up back to $3 plus the toast and prep work adds an additional $3…just to be generous I will add an extra $3 to plate it. Based on food costs and prep work (and some knowledge having once been the wife of a restaurant owner) I will assume the purchase price of an avocado toast in Australia to be $9. Obviously Mr. Avocado inflated the price to $19 in order to make a point. But the food cost isn’t the point, now is it? You can easily switch the avocado toast to another type of food and the issue remains the same – stop spending money on stupid shit (I’ll repeat this a few more times). ** I stand corrected…A lovely Sydney based reader name Sophie sent me a kind email to let me know that Avo Toasts indeed cost $19! Remind me to bring my own should I ever visit! 😉 **
Remember the $4 latte?? Last year it was all the rage and people in the personal finance space went NUTS with it. Spending $4 on an occasional latte is not a problem. Spending $4 on a latte everyday is. Isn’t it?? If we do a bit of math you will notice that $4 per day x 365 days adds up to $1460 per year ($1600 with tax). Hmmm…so that isn’t the problem either because even THAT isn’t going to break the bank so to speak. So what is?? The assumption of the Latte Factor is that if you are spending freely on one thing, most likely you are spending freely on others…like a $9 avocado toast to go with your lovely latte. And the assumption, in most cases, is true. If you are bitching about debt, again, don’t spend on stupid shit. If you have money to burn – go crazy!! This is more a discussion about moderation and priorities than it is avocado toast and lattes.
10 years ago I went through a phase of spending freely on nights out at an Irish pub eating terrible food and drinking copious amounts of pink wine (the wine choice a clear sign of my lack of maturity). About 5 years back I went through a similar phase of spending freely but this time my focus was on all things organic and small batch (like $8 chocolate bars). In both cases, I was saving very little of my income while eating (and drinking) the rest. My priorities at that time were to be social and fun and (after a my divorce) an organic eating hermit and not so fun. I spent freely with money (and calories) and didn’t give a shit. And then I woke up. I realized I wanted something different.
In the past two years I have changed my focus once again…gone are the drunk nights out and chocolate bars in. My priorities have changed and my sole focus is on freedom – financially and otherwise. I finally got wise, cut out all the shit, and am now rocking a 75% savings rate. Do you know why?? Because it DID make a difference!! All the drinking and eating out, all the organic food and stupid chocolate…they DID add up! Once I got straight with myself and what my priorities were I started to work harder, spend less, and in return save more. BUT this isn’t about me being good and a free spender being bad so LET ME BE CLEAR, I wouldn’t give up those years of free spending for anything. That is what I felt I needed at the time. That was my priority. And, again, it is all about priorities.
The point Mr. Avocado was trying to make with his silly analogy was: if you want to buy stupid shit, go for it! If you want to buy a home (or something else that costs tons of money), stop spending on stupid shit and start saving. Do not, AND I REPEAT, do not bitch about not being able to save when you are spending on said stupid shit. This is not to say that all people, or even all millennials ;), spend on stupid shit. Some people can’t afford to save because of other issues such as low-income, high cost of living, medical, and otherwise. Those are perfectly acceptable arguments but not related to this specific discussion. This discussion is about privilege of choice. Choosing a $19 appetizer (it’s got to be an appetizer, right?!) over other priorities. Again, it is your choice to make, but for Pete’s sake just don’t whine about it later! Nobody likes to hear a complainer…especially when they have avocado stuck in their teeth.
So let’s talk about my current financial impurities. I was recently interviewed by Shannon for her Martinis and Your Money podcast. One of the random questions she asked me at the end was “What’s you biggest budget buster?” My answer to this question 3 years ago would be very different from the way I would answer today. My answer? Avocado toast. Just kidding!! But my answer is equally ridiculous: organic raspberries. Seriously, those suckers ARE NOT CHEAP…but they also aren’t keeping me from owning a home. If I buy them it is on a very rare occasion or if they are a really good price. I have discipline in my spending that years ago it never occurred to me to have. What I mentioned in the podcast has now become a joke in my family. My mother has gifted me organic raspberries multiple times. She knows how serious I am about saving and also knows I am not willing to feed this addiction at $4.99 a pint!
So, let’s recap, the point of this discussion is not the price of an avocado toast. It isn’t about saving for a house (we all know not EVERYONE wants to own). The discussion is about your priorities. If you want to grab a latte and avocado toast on your way to the farmers market then do it!! Go on with your bad (in the good way) self…just be sure to bring your recycled totes with you to avoid further ridicule. 😉 And when and if you decide you want to buckle down and save, do that too!! Whichever you choose, do so with full intent and don’t bitch about the outcome later. Nobody cares what you spend on now until you bitch about it later. Save us all the nonsense and keep it to yourself! We have our own avocados to worry about.
***So tell me, if it isn’t avocados, what IS your biggest budget buster??***
Until next time…