I'm sitting at a coffee shop. I don't actually drink coffee, but enjoy a good iced soy chai if I'm needing to get out of my home office to find some inspiration.
Today the inspiration comes from two pigeons squabbling over about two square feet of space on top of a parking lot-marquee (yes, it turns out that inspiration is in the eye of the beholder as well).
These two have been going at it for the duration of 10 people scuffling through line, giving their orders, waiting for their orders, and receiving their orders.
So, give or take 20 minutes of pure nitpicking at one another.
Sure, anyone who watched Planet Earth knows that they might have reasons for doing this that are very primal. Like the winner of this two-foot square of metal might make a certain lady pigeon trip over her claws in pursuit, or perhaps the pigeons are in a fight-to-the-death to secure the best spot for picking up crumbs from unsuspecting customers out on the patio.
But the whole struggle seems so…pointless.
Which leads me to think about how not every financial fight is worth it, either.
Not Every Nickel Saved is Worth it
You might find this an odd statement for the owner, creator, and fervent money-lover behind Frugal Confessions.
But hear me out on this one (I assure you I'm not having some kind of existential crisis, just a natural evolution of my own money journey I'd like to enlighten you with in case it speaks to you as well).
In my own life, I have several examples that shaped this opinion of mine:
- That Time I Braved Traffic Across Town to Stock Up on $0.20 Cans of Tomato Sauce: After an hour — to get to the store, make my way to the cash register, pay $1.20, and drive home in rush hour traffic — I was able to add 6 more cans of tomato sauce to my already overflowing stash of 20 at home. Ummm…perhaps my time had been better spent, I don't know, defrosting my freezer?
- Hour-Long Service Call to Amazon.com to get the last $12.72 Charge on a Gift Card: Just the other day I was attempting to make a purchase off of Amazon.com and had to call them about an issue using credit card reward points to pay for a purchase. Through sales, free shipping, and a Christmas gift, I was able to get an order of goodies down to just $12.72. But that wasn't enough; I wanted to use my credit card reward points — which you could now sync with their system — to cover that last bit. The phone call with them ended up lasting an hour. Utterly ridiculous use of my time. In the end they awarded me a $20 credit for that utterly ridiculous use of my time, so it wasn't a complete loss. But I would have enjoyed that hour instead.
- Bank Offers for less than $150: In my 20s I would have eagerly jumped at every bank offer that came my way, plastering the city of Houston with bank accounts in my name that probably housed just a few hundred dollars each. Now I'm much more picky. The fact is, a bank offer is a great thing. But it also takes time and a little juggling of details to get right.
It's like that one driver who cuts you off, then cuts off the guy in the right lane, then swoops in ahead of the driver in front of you and cuts them off…only to meet up with you at the next red light.
Not every financial fight is worth it, folks. Tweet This!
And you're talking to someone who took a good deal of her 20s to figure this out (by the way, that is not a statement of regret; having been in a different place at least in my early 20s meant that I was able to squirrel away extra cash that has directly benefitted me today). Of course when you're just starting out and there is not a lot of money foundation to go back on, the small financial fights are a bit more important.
But as things settle down, debts are paid off, emergency funds are flush, and careers are expanded…time and its preciousness become an ever-increasing determination in $0.20-can decision-making.
As for those two pigeons, one is the victor and the other has given up. Except that the victor eventually loses interest (just in the time it took for me to write this conclusion), and has since moved onto cleaner marquee signs.
In the words of Elsa from Frozen (oh man, I can't believe I'm going to reference this), sometimes it's best to just let it go.