It’s about the little things…

are you really too busy

by Kenneth Justice

~ “Why the hell would someone pay $5 for a cup of coffee?” That was a comment I overheard an older woman say to her friend after they asked the barista the price of a cup of coffee.

I hang out at a lot of cafés and the price of coffee varies from one to the next….but at one coffee house in particular; a small cup of coffee is $5 American (roughly 3.75 Euro’s)…..and if you want to add a cup of espresso to your order or a shot of syrup; your coffee at that particular café could quickly reach the $10 mark.

I’ve read a number of articles about the supposed ‘strange’ phenomenon of people buying high priced coffee in the midst of struggling with their finances and a bad economy; “People in the Western World are simply stupid to be wasting their money on high priced coffee; they should stay home and save their money” is what I hear some people say….

Don’t get me wrong; I’m a strong advocate for saving money. I’ve noticed that many parents are failing in their responsibility to teach their children to save money…….but; I totally understand why someone would buy an expensive cup of coffee.

You see, when you look at the general lifespan for a person in the Western World….its really not all that long. If you happen to be the average person you’ll live till your early 70’s and if you are blessed with good genetics you might make it till age 80 or 90……..but in the face of eternal time itself; 70 years doesn’t seem very long at all.

To live our life counting pennies like Ebenezer Scrooge can get very old; what’s the point of saving up a store house of gold and silver if we’re only going to die at the end of the day. Sometimes its important to get out of the house and spend a couple extra dollars on ourselves in order for us to enjoy living.

Too much of our lives often revolve around the negative. Lets be honest, if you turn on the 24 hour NEWS you’ll be overwhelmed with negative stories; shootings, natural disasters, political scandals, and more. And while its important that we don’t turn a blind eye to the problems that surround us; its vital that we don’t let the negative elements of the world weigh us down. We have to remember to live life to the fullest.

To compound the problem of the negative; many of us have certain relatives, friends, or co-workers that are constantly bringing negative energy to the conversation; they love to gossip, slander, or talk about subjects that bring us down…..many people love to talk about the negative.

Sometimes its important for us to get out of our houses and do the small things that we enjoy…even if it costs us a few extra dollars;

—) For some of us it is drinking a good cup of coffee at our favorite café

—) For some people it is ordering a glass of nice wine

—) For some people it is getting their nails done at a salon

—) For some people it is going out to the movie theater and seeing a film

Sure, we could do things that are free; we could go for a walk, watch a show on our television at home, invite a friend over for coffee, or paint our nails at home…..but sometimes we need to get out and spend that extra couple dollars on ourselves….and I don’t see anything wrong with doing so.

Yesterday a homeless person stopped me on the street and asked for ‘bus money’. This particular homeless person had forgotten that I had talked with him numerous times in the past and I knew very well that he wasn’t going to be taking the bus…..but I gave him the money anyways. Instantly he went into the smoke shop and bought a pack of cigarettes. While I’m definitely not going to promote smoking cigarettes (though I’m not going to bash it either)….I appreciated the fact that the homeless person simply wanted to do something he enjoyed. I can’t imagine how tough life must be for him…and if he wanted to spend a couple dollars to smoke a cigarette and take his mind of the negative elements of his life….that was fine by me.

There’s this story about Jesus in which a woman used expensive perfume to wash his feet; his followers attacked the woman and accused her of wasting the perfume which could have been sold to feed the hungry and homeless……Jesus responded by saying, “Look, its good that you care about the homeless, its important that we remember them and reach out to them….but sometimes its okay to spend a couple dollars on ourselves” (my paraphrase).

Even a man like Jesus who lived his every waking moment among the poor, lowly, homeless, and hungry…..understood the value of taking a few moments to ourselves. We can’t allow the problems of the world to so overwhelm us that we don’t enjoy living life itself….

Sometimes its the little things in life that we need to spend a few moments doing, like buying that expensive cup of coffee or glass of nice wine. sometimes its doing the little things in life that help to give us a boost of energy and fresh new perspective in our quest to reach out to others….sometimes its spending that time on ourselves that helps to renew us for all the tasks that lie ahead of us each day.

And that reminds me; I think I will get another cup of coffee now,







Categories: Culture & Society

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56 replies

  1. –) For some of us, it’s reading a terrific blog post. Thanks, Kenneth.

  2. When I worked for the zoo there was a program called “Enrichment”. It made me so happy that they remembered that the animals needed to be intrigued. Papermache balls with meat inside for the hyenas and boxes filled with funny fabrics and teats for the chimps. I know I need enrichment too. I bought my fragrance for the holidays because it is aromatherapy. Every sniff if worth more to me than any therapy. I bought a canvas yesterday for my artist friend who wants to make me a Christmas painting. The art supplies I bought for him (down and out right now) are priceless.

  3. Who was it said – ‘we know the cost of things, but the value of nothing…’ Nice post Kenneth

  4. Good morning!
    Enjoy the little things in life..
    for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.

    Wonder if you ever get a day off 😃

  5. Lol, excellent Jesus paraphrase. I agree man, I just feel bad cause I was probably that lady at the counter complaining about the $5 coffee! LOL!

  6. I was waiting for the coffee’s time (wink) so little things do fill the day.

  7. Totally agree. I don’t know where the idea came from that Christians had to be serious all the time. Scripture clearly teaches us to get out and enjoy God’s creation. Even Jesus rarely turned down an invitation to a dinner party, even throwing some Himself. (People need to check their history if they think those dinners were solemn occasions.)

    Of course, that doesn’t give us license to do anything we want, but there is so much out there for us to enjoy that easy and doesn’t cost a lot of money, time, or energy. So get out there, stop and smell the roses, and enjoy that cup of coffee (although I’ll admit $10 would take it well past enjoyment for me.)

  8. In looking at the context of your whole post, I’d say that I agree…everyone needs to keep those happy moments in their life. I knew someone who was starting out, very young and often had to count pennies to find enough money for gas…but they always had Friday night pizza. It was their date night and they always made sure to have money for a date.

    And, although I agree that being Scrooge at a young age can be a complete kill joy…there is nothing sweeter than a early twenty something person, working an average job, being able to buy his/her own home…because they played it smart. 🙂

  9. Thank you. I’m unemployed now, and still buying my coffee most days. I really can’t afford it, but I do love it and I scrimp and save on so many things it’s nice to buy my coffee in the mornings.

  10. I consider the $5 rent for a spot in the cafe, where I get to be among people. Just with them, no big deal, but it’s a human need. And as a bonus, I get a great cup of coffee!

  11. It is really impractical to spend 5 bucks for just one cup of coffee.

    • I would rather spend $6.99 for a 1pound 12oz can of ground coffee and donate it to the Bread of Life Rescue Mission in Oceanside – that way many of the cold, homeless and poor can enjoy a hot cup of coffee. That gives me great pleasure. I buy coffee beans for myself and some Italian Sweet Cream and that also delights me.

    • I donate as well, then go to the cafe. Depriving yourself of something you like helps no one, unless you donate EVERY PENNY you don’t use to actually live.

  12. It is never wrong to occasionally think of ones self but we need to learn not to let it consume us.
    We should be happy with as little as we have and that once in a lifetime spur of the moment expensive purchase should not seduce us for more.
    And sure closing our eyes for what is happening around us is wrong. Yes we should look further than length of our nose. But we should never forget our neighbours

  13. I don’t buy coffee at coffee houses. However, on your article I have this one thought. If I was in that group that did buy the high end coffee, I might be tempted to think like this . Most of us, will last through the month, at least 30 days. So if we figure that, we can figure this also, five (dollars) times thirty (days), equals about $150 dollars. And knowing that, I might be tempted to forget the coffee and go for the curtain (like on Let’s Make a Deal). If I save that five dollars a day, and then wait until the end of the month, I can buy something so way more delightful than a cup of coffee or even than a month of days of cups of coffee. That’s why , some won’t pay the money . Almost anyone can make the coffee at home or do without the coffee but not everyone has a spare $150. hanging around in these days of recession. It’s a nice thought to indulge a little once in a while, but I like the thought of buying something valuable rather than buying something that will not be here one month later. At the end of the month, the coffee is gone . But if you pool those five dollar bills and buy something more lasting, you still have your five dollar’s worth (your 150 worth).

  14. Tramp’s diary

    I paid five quid for a bloody coffee. Then some guy told me Jesus approved – which was nice.

    Thought I’d have a puff, mull things over – luckily that guy, he had some change, maybe he thought we might have a smoke together? Although he’s looking at me again, all funny, patting my shoulder and stuff.

    He’s always here. Had my smoke in the rain outside, on my own, he’s still looking. Five quid.

  15. While I think we would benefit from the ability to enjoy life’s free pleasures, this is really an extrapolation of making our joy more accessible. If one has the extra few bucks and can derive joy from spending them, well, that’s an accessible pleasure at this moment, so why not?

    It seems to come down to questions of value. Why $5 for a cup of coffee? Why $20+ for dinner? Why $10 for a movie? Why $100,000 for a home? In each case, the value of a thing ultimately derives from us, so to criticize those who’d spend the money is to assume value is a concrete, real thing, rather than an evaluation each of us makes.

    BTW, one reason to spend $5 for coffee is not for the coffee, but to spend time at the venue and meet interesting people. When I get coffee, I’m not so much paying for the coffee (it’s more like $3+ here) but for the right to hang out at that venue. Plus I get free refills (thank you Starbucks gold card!) 🙂

  16. Yup! Little things go a long way!

  17. What a coincidence! This Sunday the gospel in Greece was about the rich man who was thinking of building larger storage for the crops…

  18. What good is having all that money in the bank, if it’s still there the day we die? That’s my new-found thought. With that said however, a person must still use wisdom. It’s okay to splurge on things IF your bills are paid and your kids are fed.

    There are too many people I know who walk around moping, saying they don’t have enough money to pay their rent and ask others for financial assistance. Then, right on the heels of that they go out to a restaurant or a movie theater. That, I do not agree with.

    If you can afford it and everything is paid up, then spend to your hearts desire. Otherwise, any unnecessary spending is a lack of judgement and wisdom.

  19. And that is what Chipotle means to me lol. 🙂 *as I sit here following a yummy lunch of Chipotle* It’s like I said in my post the other day about Ferris Bueller – we do need to stop and look around every once in a while or life will pass us by. Where’s the fun in that?

  20. Another great post, well said.

    The thing is……we all spend money on the things that give us pleasure. Life is meant to be lived. Living on a frugal disability pension now means changes to my life. But I would rather cut my own hair (which I do) buy no clothes (usually) and spend money on my favourite sushi rolls when I go into the city for the afternoon.

    And every now and then in summer, when I go to the beach to do some photography, I sit on the pier and eat hot fish & chips (instead of taking a sandwich). I can’t really afford it, but I go without in other areas of my life.

    People criticise me spending my small ‘nest egg’ on photography equipment, but it gets me outdoors for exercise and fresh air. Besides what else am I going to do with my restricted life in constant pain – get addicted to painkillers and stare at the tv all day? Do I criticise what family & friends do with their money? No, I wouldn’t be so rude and insensitive.

    • No judgment here. My father-in-law has been involved in photography for 40 years, so he’d be the last to make any criticisms. Most people that know us well know that every single member of our little family is involved in our photography, too. Do you have a presence at Flickr? We are jaklumen & family there if you wish to share.

  21. Even though I don’t drink coffee, Kenneth, I collect coffee grounds for the garden. It’s my regular practice that when I come in to do so, usually at the nearest Starbucks, I give them a little business, or at least feed the tip jar (sometimes I do both). I actually think I’m spending a relative pittance, but the managers and baristas are usually happy, and arrangements are typically smooth.

    • Jacklumen,

      It’s okay…you’ll eventually grow up and start drinking coffee like the rest of us adults ;). (just kidding)

      I see a lot of people who pick up grounds like your saying…..I didn’t even know they could be put in a garden

    • If you know the “green” and “brown” analogy for composting– they are considered “green” because of their rich nitrogen content, although they are rather brown in color. “Brown” composting ingredients are carbon rich, and consist more of leaves, wood, anything that is easily burned (because of the carbon content).

      Nevertheless– coffee grounds don’t break down quite as quick as other nitrogen-rich sources, like rotten/bad fruit, vegetables, other non-meat kitchen scraps.

      Starbucks has long had a program where customers may pick up the grounds; I’m not sure about other coffee houses. I’ve had mixed results trying to get them from the smaller places.

  22. When someone earns their keep, how they spend their own money is their business. Because the worth of anything is in the eye of the beholder, even if we disagree, what is the point of judging them. That’s for busybodies.

  23. Awesome post!

  24. This post reminds me of working the Bingo hall as fundraising for my kids’ activities. It’s hard to understand why so many people spend their money on Bingo and especially the “pickles.” But, like you say, it’s their thing, it’s what makes them happy, what they look forward to doing every week. To each their own! Live and let live!

  25. Loved your analogy. Sometimes it’s just the drive, or the walk, to get that cup of coffee. Or the interaction with the customers and barristas. Or maybe it’s the smiles that light up people’s faces when I bring my canine babies to hang out on the patio of that coffeehouse. Don’t get me wrong. I love my coffee, too. For me, it’s more about the experience and not the coffee. Forming relationships. The connectedness we all feel toward each other. So I think I’ll hop in the car with my dogs, and head to the drive-through of the local Starbucks.


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