I just saw a single out-of-context quote that caught my eye today, and I wanted to share.
I think the key is to be selective... Where are the places where you can change the habits and actually improve your life? The $4 latte may be worth it to you if that's how you get yourself out of the house and into a public place where you encounter other people and moderate loneliness into manageable solitude. A month of daily lattes might correspond to one item of clothing that gives you a moment of manic elation but then gets lost in your closet amongst scarcely dissimilar items.
As you know, I am a big proponent of life-change through habit. I thought this quote was good for emphasizing how the "right" habits are not one-size-fits-all, and how "good" choices can have hidden costs.
It's pretty fashionable to mock people who have a $4 daily coffeeshop habit, but what Ann says is true -- for some people, the daily $4 may be staving off a much bigger problem! On the other hand, we have a bad habit of misidentifying luxuries as "needs." Maybe the question to ask is, exactly how does this thing I say I need fill a hole?
"I really need my daily latte" might mean, "I am addicted to caffeine and a latte is a tasty way to get my fix." It might mean, "I have established a ritual of stopping at the coffee shop each day, and doing the same thing every day makes me feel peaceful while changing my routine makes me feel upset." It might mean, as Ann suggested, "I need to encounter other people so I don't feel so lonely, and the latte gives me an excuse and a motivation to go do it." It might mean, "I can afford so few luxuries, and the latte is a petty luxury that makes me feel less poor -- for a few minutes out of the day, I can live like a person who doesn't have to pinch pennies."
I thought that the lesson could perhaps be extended to other types of "good" habits besides budgetary ones.