A common expression is that “there are two kinds of people in the world…” There are Republicans and Democrats. Right-brained and left-brained. Yankees fans and Red Sox fans. And, of course, Starbucks people and Dunkin’ Donuts people.
In Boston, where Dunkin’ was founded, this is a particularly strong theme. Dunkin’ people and Starbucks people see themselves as being very different. Starbucks aficionados see it as a higher-quality experience and don’t mind paying for it. Meanwhile, Dunkin’ fans are proud of their frugality and think that the people over at Starbucks are overpaying.
The reality, though, is that you don’t need to categorize yourself that rigidly. You don’t have to be either a frugal spender or a spendthrift. It doesn’t have to be an either-or decision like that. It’s OK to have a little bit of Dunkin’ in you and also a little bit of Starbucks. Or, to put it another way, it’s OK to be frugal in certain situations and a big spender in other situations. That doesn’t make you inconsistent or a hypocrite; I think it actually makes you very practical.
So how do you balance the two?
The idea is to let your priorities dictate. Spend a lot on the things you love but ruthlessly economize on everything that is less important. For example, my college roommate is a Dunkin’ kind of guy in almost every way, but he will gladly pay up for Business Class when he flies. That’s what’s important to him, and I think it makes tons of sense.
Similarly, if you’re a Starbucks kind of person most of the time, don’t feel that you need to overpay at every turn. Buy the store brand or choose a more downscale option when it comes to things that just aren’t that important to you.
So, as we head into the summer, and you hopefully have some opportunity for vacation, I hope you’ll keep this in mind. Don’t box yourself into a particular self-image, or worse yet, someone else’s image of you. Instead, make practical choices based on your own needs.