For anyone who checks out my foodie Instagram account (@yolocruzfoodz) and story, or has talked with me in the past couple of months, you probably know that I’ve become mildly obsessed with acai bowls.
“Mildly” being up for interpretation.
This point was underscored when I took a look at my July spending towards this recent obsession (I track all of my spending categories via my budgets feature on Mint).
While my fascination with acai bowls began in late May / early June, this was the first month I knew it was becoming an actual obsession.
July Acai Spending Breakdown:
- Vitality Bowls x1 = $11.50
- Berry Brand x4 = $36.00
- Paradise Bowls x3 = $27.50
- Nekter Juice Bar x1 = $9.35
- Sambazon Organic Acai-Superfruit Packs x2 = $33.60
While this recent obsession may seem like a guilty pleasure, I don’t see it that way at all.
guilty pleasure: “something pleasurable that induces a usually minor feeling of guilt.”
Is it pleasurable for me? Absolutely.
Do I feel guilty? Not at all.
Enter: Conscious Spending.
Years ago, I came across Ramit Sethi and his book I Will Teach You To Be Rich which teaches readers principles of personal finance.
In his blog post Conscious spending: How my friend spends $21,000/year on going out, he explains this concept in detail:
“Conscious spending means you decide exactly where you’re going to spend your money–for going out, for saving, for investing, for rent–and you free yourself from feeling guilty about your spending. Along with making you feel comfortable with your spending, a plan lets you continue growing towards your goals instead of just treading water.”
The idea is that you ruthlessly cut spending on things you don’t care about, but simultaneously spending generously on things that are important to you.
Since then, I’ve practiced Conscious Spending along with automating my personal finances so that I can have “guilt-free” spending. This allows me to allocate resources towards what truly brings me happiness and adds real value to my life.
- Quality time with family and friends
- Learning (audiobooks, seminars/conferences, workshops)
- Going out to the movies + overpriced popcorn
- Acai bowls
The reason I can spend almost seemingly unthinkable amounts of money on things like movie theater popcorn or acai bowls is that I know that I’m automatically saving and investing a percentage of my income towards the important stuff first. This leaves me with a percentage to spend on what I believe makes me happy.
“Things That Inspire Joy”
In her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo talks about surrounding yourself with things that “spark joy” within you.
I learned that to truly optimize your life and increase your personal happiness, you must create the ideal environment for yourself. A big part of this is only keeping possessions that give you joy.
In addition to applying this framework to my own belongings, I’ve also used it when selecting what I do in my free time.
For me, this includes:
- Singing (in the car, shower, or at a karaoke room)
- Dancing (freestyle/popping, KPOP covers, original choreography)
- Bowling after work
- Intellectual conversations
- Making people laugh
- Eating acai bowls
Acai bowls make me happy. Not only are they extremely satisfying, but they also don’t make me feel terrible. (See how I reduced the amount of junk food I eat by focusing on how foods make me FEEL).
I’ve found that the more I consciously prioritize these activities above other things that don’t necessarily spark joy, the happier I tend to be and feel.
Of course, this is not to downplay the importance of doing things you need to do like going to work, class, the gym, etc. However, I think scheduling time to do what makes you happy will optimize your performance in many aspects of your life.
“Abundance” vs “Scarcity” mindsets
When I advocate for guilt-free spending and using your money on things that make you happy, I’m in no way advising people to spend frivolously beyond their means.
The important idea is to know what is worth spending money on based on the “ROI,” so to speak, or the value it adds to your life.
Ramit frequently talks about our “internal money scripts” that run in our heads. These internal stories keep us feeling like we “never have enough” or need to “always be as frugal as possible” when it comes to money.
However, when you always think “I never have enough” then:
- You’ll always be unhappy
- It’ll be extremely difficult for you to ever obtain more
Regardless of how much you make, optimizing your time and resources for both long-term goals and short-term happiness (things that create true happiness) will increase your quality of life.