Money Talks, So Should You

Debt Destroyer: My “cup-of-coffee” rule

Natalie H.
by Natalie H. , Dimespring 30

I like to think that that I am being more financially responsible. I like to think that I am kicking debt in the face and that I am planning well for my financial future. Despite my efforts, I know that I have not always been that way. There were times where I struggled to afford basic things in my life. There were times when I struggled to even afford a cup of coffee.

I was in college and was still very unfamiliar with how money works. I had received my student loan check but I had spent so much money and so frivolously. I felt like I had to eat out every day and buy new clothes, even though I was a student. I continued this lifestyle and didn’t give a second thought to what I was doing.

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It was around winter time and it was snowing incredibly hard. I had just left class and instantly felt the bitter bite of the cold weather when I walked outside. There was a little coffee shop not too far away and, of course, I wanted something warm to heat up my frozen self.

I ran up to the café and ordered a large coffee. I handed over my debit card. The cashier behind the counter smiled and ran the card.


She ran it again.


My heart started beating and beating quickly.  Finally, the cashier apologized and handed me back my card. It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life. Everyone in the café seemed to stare me down. Everyone knew that I couldn’t even afford a cup of coffee. I ran out of there as fast as I could.

I made a promise right then and there never to be in that situation again. I simply could not believe I had been so careless with money and to such an insane degree. This was truly a turning point for me. I realized that my out-of-control spending was no longer sustainable and I was now suffering the consequences.

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Although I did not completely reform my behavior right then (it would improve in the years to come), I did at least start budgeting some and spreading out my loan and scholarship money more. I would always be careful enough with my money so that I would at least always be able to afford a cup of coffee — which I dubbed my “cup-of-coffee” rule. 

Obviously, I strive to have more in my bank account than the price of a cup of coffee, but I keep it in mind as motivation because I never ever want to be denied the purchase of a simple everyday item. And nowadays, I am trying to make my coffee at home to save money for such an occasion.

Natalie lives in the Southeast with her boyfriend, dog and her collection of vintage art posters. When she is not kicking debt in the face, she enjoys writing, dancing, jogging and reading about personal finance. Natalie is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and perspectives on personal finance.