Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Just Skip Your Tuesday Mocha

I've been frustrated lately with commercials and editorials and advice columns suggesting that I, the frugal reader, should withhold superfluous luxuries. A textbook recently told me that I could afford an $8 / month service by driving past Starbucks every Tuesday without stopping for a cappuccino. That advice irked me, and since reading that chapter, I've noticed the same style rhetoric is pretty common. I saw a commercial this evening that suggested I give my change to charity instead of throwing it on my dresser.

Here's my issue: if I go to Starbucks twice in a year, that's a lot for me - once is a splurge. As a general rule, I don't carry cash, so I have no change to throw on my dresser. On the rare occasions that I do need to use cash, I deposit my change back into my account the first chance I get.

My irritation is this: those of us who buy a drink at Starbucks every day and throw our change on our dressers are not the same people who sweat about splitting $10 a month on tools and charity. The people who are unwilling to spend $10 are people whose entire budget consists of food, shelter, and transportation, with no room left over for frivolities like health care, education, or recreation.

The target audience does not have the cash to throw forgetfully on their dressers while sipping a venti mocha they picked up in their spare time. The target audience is already skipping Starbucks and using every bit of change they can find. Like Stephen Colbert said, "Poor people have ceiling fans, dvd players, and coffee makers?! That's not fair! I don't have any of those things. I have central air, a blu-ray player, and I get my coffee at Starbucks everyday.” The disconnect is at least that real.