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Spending Discernment - Coffee and the Gray Area Principle

Spiritual Perception to Stay on Track with Your Spending Plan


To stick to your wise Spending Plan, you'll need discernment every day. Discernment is a little different than wisdom. Wisdom is applied knowledge beyond your experience. Discernment is perception beyond your experience. It's the ability to tell which choice is better to make, which path is better to take, which product is better to buy, or when the timing is right to buy.


When you are facing those tough everyday spending decisions, remember the Gray Area Principle that Paul gave the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 6:12. As Christians, we would do well to apply the Gray Area Principle to every questionable decision in our lives that the Bible does not talk about specifically as sinful:


All things are permitted for me, but not all things are of benefit. All things are permitted for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.

When you are faced with a spending decision, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. What is most beneficial to my finances in the long run? Does it help my Spending Plan?

  2. Is this decision controlling me so that I feel I don’t have a choice, or am I in control of this decision? Does this jive with my Spending Plan?

If you are not sure about the answer to either of these questions, put off the decision as long as possible. The choices may be good, but the timing may not be right.


A simple, everyday example of the Gray Area Principle in action financially is coffee discernment. If you are a coffee drinker, you have quite a few options to drink two cups (technically 12 ounces) of coffee in the morning. (Did you know a standard cup of coffee is only 6 ounces not 8 ounces, and that the other 2 ounces or more consists of milk, creamer, or whatever you like to add - makes me feel cheated, but I digress).

<$1 Instant coffee or the generic grocery store coffee grounds

$1 - $2 Brand name coffee grounds

$2 - $3 Two coffee machine pods

$3 - $5 Fast food or convenience store coffee

$5 - $7 Chain brand coffee shops

$7 - $10 Specialty local coffee shops


When this happens 7 days a week, the monthly spending costs for a daily 2-cup coffee fix can quickly add up!

<$30 Instant coffee or the generic grocery store coffee grounds in a pot

$30 - $60 Brand name coffee grounds in a pot

$60 - $90 Two coffee machine pods

$90 - $150 Fast food or convenience store coffee

$150 - $210 Chain brand coffee shops

$210 - $300 Specialty local coffee shops


Which is most beneficial to your Spending Plan? How much is coffee controlling your personal finances?

Most of us will have a combination of coffee sources to balance out the spending. But if you are spending $300 a month on coffee and you are not able to pay your electric bill or your credit card debt, ask yourself, "Is this what God intends for my Christian life?" Drinking coffee is not necessarily bad; within healthy limits of 4 cups daily it can be beneficial to your mind and health. The real issue is when a want corrupts a need, it sucks money out of your pocket that is intended for survival, debts, emergencies, saving for big purchases and investing. Do you really want to spend more than $300 a month on coffee? Try this financial solution on with your $300 coffee spending according to our wise Spending Plan.

<$30 Surviving on generic grocery store coffee grounds in a pot

$90 Repaying debt

$30 Giving 10%

$45 Saving

$45 Investing

$30 Flexing

$30 Enjoying a weekly local coffee shop treat


This is what a discerning, self-controlled Spending Plan looks like. You can call this a budget with goals. Or you can call it intentional spending. When you call it intentional spending, YOU have control. A budget is a like a wish or a dream. A spending plan is backed by your intentional commitment. The Spending Plan will change over time as your financial situation changes. But when you start to see the blessings of intentional spending, like peace of mind and Financial Freedom, you may not want to go back to budgeting. God has so much more for you than managing a budget! He wants you to live burden-free. What could that look like?


<$30 Surviving on generic grocery store coffee grounds

$0 Debts Repaid

$60 Giving 20%

$75 Saving

$75 Investing

$30 Flexing

$30 Enjoying a weekly local coffee shop treat


Now you have flipped the script, and you are generously giving to others and paying yourself. You are in the Financial Freedom zone! Wouldn’t that be amazing?


If you want help to create a wise Spending Plan and to change your money mindset and spending habits, spiritual financial coaching is available for you from Andrews Financial Coaching. Contact us today to get started with a free, no-obligation Discovery Call.



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