This week one of the most absurd events of recent memory came to pass in London. An anarchist group (collective?) called Class War staged a protest outside a cereal bar in London’s East End called Cereal Killer Café to protest gentrification. Paint was thrown, threats were made and in the end riot police were called.
I’m completely serious.
Businesses like the Cereal Killer Café raise some interesting questions about what we do with our newly gentrified neighborhoods, and what we consider to be worthwhile economic activities for our money. It is curious, for instance, that there could ever be such a thing as a “cereal bar“, literally a place to go and buy a single bowl of cereal and milk for just over $6 CDN. The number of hamburger joints offering up organically raised beef and artisanal fries may reflect an increasing focus on authentic slow food, but more realistically suggests that we are bad at assessing value and have a disheartening economic focus on frivolity.
Novelty is nothing new (cough, cough) and our desire to spend money on novelty shouldn’t surprise us. Cities too have always been home to novel and frivolous ways to spend money. But given the abundance of economic frivolity it is worth considering whether we have our priorities straight. Consider that a major complaint is that people simply don’t have enough money to live at an accepted standard. Home ownership is being discounted by a whole generation that feel that home prices are simply too high. But given the abundance of commercial activity revolving around food, drink, and events, it is worthwhile raising at least a question of fiscal prudence.
I’m not of the opinion that by avoiding lattes you can have a decent retirement, but there are enough businesses with questionable reasons to exist that it is at least worth considering whether we are spending our money wisely. The surprising existence of juice bars, cupcake boutiques, frozen yogurt stores and designer cookie brasseries can be described as nothing short of head scratching. Joined by the numerous residents of the city who regularly go to the café dedicated to board games, throw axes, jump on trampolines, drink at Harry Potter themed bars, partake in juice cleanses, play Ping Pong or just seek ways to leave a room, it might not be unfair to think that we are in some ways the authors of our own financial short comings.
The first step to financial stability is being able to make sense of where your money is going and gaining perspective on the total range of your spending. The benefits of city living is the endless amount of fun available to you, but that is also it’s chief drawback. Having a clear eyed picture of your financial needs, realistic financial goals and a roadmap to get there will be worth far more in the long run, provide comfort that you aren’t undermining your financial future and make your luxuries exactly that. Luxuries.