Back in the day I used to spend money like a bat outta Hell with a bad gambling habit.
I didn’t have a good grounding for what those dollars really could buy as they flew out of my bank account. I didn’t know what my opportunity costs were. All I knew is that I wanted fancy chocolate and a truck, dammit!
The other day I was calculating what else I could buy with my money if I didn’t have to worry about my debt payments. That’s when I came to the startling conclusion that if I only make the minimum payments on my debt, I’ll pay enough in interest to fully cover the cost of 14,833 tacos.
Boom. That’s when it hit me: Taco dollars. Of course!
What Is A Taco Dollar?
A taco dollar is the opportunity cost of one taco—i.e., how many tacos you’re giving up to buy something else instead.
Here’s the conversion:
1 Taco Dollar = $2.19
That’s the price of one shredded-beef-brisket taco at my favorite taco joint, Fuzzy’s Tacos (note: the tacos themselves are delicious, but not fuzzy).
Note: 1 Taco Dollar may be worth more or less, depending on your taco of choice. For example, 1 Taco Dollar could be worth up to $4.00 if you prefer the high-falutin’ The Democrat taco from Torchy’s Tacos. True to its spendy style, it also includes a slice of avocado.
But for those of us who try to stretch a buck, I think $2.19 is an excellent value for a supremely-delicious-not-cafeteria-food taco.
What Can You Buy With A Taco Dollar?
Just like with real dollars, you can spend your Taco Dollars in any number of ways:
- Ahi tuna poke bowl from Tokyo Joe’s = 5.76 Taco Dollars
- The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft = 6.85 Taco Dollars (for reals!)
- 2 local ciders at Scrumpy’s Cider = 7.31 Taco Dollars
- ½ Hour guitar lesson = 11.41 Taco Dollars
- Colorado resident annual fishing license = 11.87 Taco Dollars
- Machu Picchu/Huayna Picchu entrance fee = 29.08 Taco Dollars
- Dog training classes to curb Juno’s bad leash manners = 91.32 Taco Dollars
- Rent = 454.34 Taco Dollars
- 20% Down payment on a $250,000 “starter” home = 22,831.05 Taco Dollars
How Can You Save Taco Dollars?
Just like how you can save real dollars, you can also save taco dollars (although don’t try depositing them in your bank account):
- Eating leftovers for lunch = 2 Taco Dollars per person
- Using a foldable drying rack (affiliate link) instead of a coin dryer = 11.41 Taco Dollars per month
- Using Ibotta/coupons/store rewards = 26.03 Taco Dollars per month
- Remaining a single-vehicle household = 76.10 Taco Dollars per month
- Staying in the cheapest acceptable apartment possible = 276.26 Taco Dollars per month
What’s Your Taco Dollar?
I really like tacos, if you couldn’t tell. Tacos themselves are my opportunity cost—something that I could also spend my money on instead of whatever I’m buying.
Would I buy 22,831 tacos if I wasn’t saving up for a house down payment? No. (or would I? No. Bad Lindsay. No.)
Still, it’s eye-opening to see just what you really can buy if you aren’t letting your actual dollars fly out of your wallet like the monkeys from the Wizard of Oz.
You can substitute anything you like for Taco Dollars. Beer Dollars are another personal favorite of mine, but Latte Dollars, Sushi Dollars, or Travel Dollars work just as well. You can even calculate your opportunity cost in hours of your life.
You don’t need to always calculate the cost of whatever you’re buying in Taco Dollars. But, the next time you’re making a purchase that you’re not sure about, or if you’re calculating the cost of a big-ticket item, it can be an amazing experience to calculate what else you could buy with your money.
Save Your Taco Dollars With A Free Giveaway!
I’m partnering with the always-awesome Donna Freedman over at the Surviving and Thriving blog to give away one free e-copy of her new book, Your Playbook For Tough Times, Vol. 2: Needs And Wants Edition. It’s a follow-up to the first Your Playbook For Tough Times: Living Large On Small Change, For The Short Term Or The Long Haul (affiliate links).
Note: This giveaway has ended, but you can get your own copy of this book and the original Your Playbook For Tough Times for just $5 each using some special coupon codes in this post: Badass Book Review: Your Playbook For Tough Times Vol. 2. Thanks!
What are your Taco Dollars? Leave a comment below!