Lattes for Less! Saving Money on Your Caffeine Addiction.
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS™ and financial coaches are often asked how to save money when the economy and market seems to be in turmoil.
Sometimes the answer is simple, and only takes a little discipline. I often coach clients to comb through their budget and analyze their Needs vs Wants. There are plenty of opportunities to save money if you know where to look, and are willing to make small sacrifices.
That's why today, I've decided to take a step back and talk about something that's way more hands-on and can save you and your family money each day, week, month, or year in a very tangible way! So here's how your daily cup of Joe can affect your household's bottom line!
ONE Way Tons of Americans Gulp Money!
Let's face it! The majority of us Americans have a serious addiction that we don't talk about. Yet, for many, we go and visit our dealer every day. What's this addiction?
It's caffeine, or coffee, to be more exact (caffeine is actually classified as both a nootropic and a drug). So many of us go each and every day to Starbucks or whatever our local coffee shop is to wake up in the morning, mid-morning, noon, after lunch, and even evening. Honestly, we go all the time. Many of us even frequent the coffee shop multiple times a day, depending on the kind of day we're having. But, as fun as it is to fulfill that daily ritual, and as good as the coffee is, some of us need to pump the brakes. Even though coffee isn't necessarily considered bad for our health - the side-sells that come with it can be. It can also start eating a hole in our wallets before knowing it's happening.
According to US News and World Report, the average cup of coffee in the United States is about $2.70. However, many of us don't go for a plain old cup of black drip coffee. More often than not, we're interested in a cappuccino ($3.51), latte ($3.78), or mocha ($3.94). Now… I don't know if that seems right to y'all, but it looks a little lower than I'd expect to pay. As it turns out, there may be a reason for that…
Coffee comes in different sizes, typically small, medium, and large - obviously, the larger the size, the more you pay. So while the average cost per cup of coffee might be around $2.70, most of us may be paying more than that daily as many of us opt for medium or large sizes. Another reason that statistics may seem slightly off is because of outliers.
Outliers, in statistics, are value(s) or point(s) that differs substantially from the rest of the data, according to The Data School. In other words, the significantly cheaper cost of some small amount of coffee shops could be pulling the average price per cup down.
However, even if we totally accept the number $2.70 per cup of coffee and assume that the average person only gets black coffee and only gets coffee four out of five workdays a week, the cost per month still adds up to about 43 dollars! Even worse, if you take that number across all twelve months, you're talking about over five hundred dollars a year!
Ways to save money on coffee.
Ah! So much doom and gloom! What can I do to save myself from corporate coffee overlords?! Here are a few actionable steps to lower your monthly coffee bill!
The most obvious and perhaps least welcome answer is to drink drip coffee at home. Admittedly, it's slightly less convenient than a drive-thru. Still, if you're just drinking drip coffee from a coffeehouse - this simple switch could save you a ton of money!
Even though this option seems really dry at first, it's a really excellent opportunity! Just think! Most coffee houses you'll go to serve one brand of coffee in different roasts. But, if you make coffee at home, you can buy your beans from anywhere you'd like! You can try out new brands, flavors, and roasts all you want and open up a world of possibilities!
Become an at-home barista
While in the days of F.R.I.E.N.D.S., becoming your own barista may have seemed untenable and something only a crazy person would do - it's becoming a lot easier! You can buy all sorts of store products to make your favorite drinks at home!
For example, you could buy milk (or any milk alternative), some syrup (or make your own?), and a milk frother. Then, BOOM! You've just unlocked the essential ingredients for most coffee styles, including americanos, lattes, cappuccinos, cafe mistos, and their iced alternatives.
Pre-Made Cold Brew
Suppose you kinda want to feel like an at-home barista and really like cold drinks but don't feel like learning too much about the coffee process. In that case, you could also consider buying some pre-made cold brew when you go to the grocery store! Though it's slightly more expensive than DIY cold brew or iced lattes, it'll still save you a pretty penny compared to coffeehouse prices. Combined with some flavored creamer, you've got yourself a lot of options!
Consider bringing some romance back to your espresso! What if instead of being a daily ritual, going to the coffeehouse was something you did with your friends or significant other as a treat! By mostly making and drinking your coffee at home, you'll bring back the significance, excitement, and joy of going out to get a latte!
Getting Creative at Home!
In this financial planner's opinion, making fancy coffee drinks isn't something that has to be left up to the baristas across the counter! There are many ways to DIY your coffee and make it yours! You'll get to know the process and figure out what you really prefer instead of the standard make and model of any type of drink.
Buying coffee syrup has never been easier! It's one of the essential elements of almost any flavored espresso or coffee drink. It's as easy as getting on Amazon, looking up your favorite flavor, and paying ten dollars for it to show up at your door! A 30 mL of coffee syrup typically lasts anywhere from three weeks to a month with near-daily latte consumption (according to my own experience).
If you want to get even a little more involved in the process of your coffee, making your own coffee syrups is really easy to do and costs even less than buying it! Here's an easy recipe to follow to make your own syrups!
While you could use a regular old coffee maker to make most of your drinks, you'd have to accept that they wouldn't technically be precisely correct. Most coffee drinks actually use a variation of coffee called espresso! Suppose you want to get real nitty-gritty and become an expert-level barista. In that case, there are plenty of at-home espresso makers and or espresso/coffee machines (with built-in milk frothers even). I've been told that Ninja makes some excellent and versatile coffee machines that can output anything from hot and cold espresso, coffee, or even tea!
When you're getting started, it's going to be rough. However, the more you practice, the better you'll get and the more excited you will be to continue learning! A great side-effect of taking the time to learn this money-saving skill is that you'll become an even more exciting host for get-togethers and parties!
Save Money, Stay Healthy!
Yet another excellent side effect of drinking more coffee at home is that you'll possibly even be a bit healthier! Like I said before, coffee isn't necessarily unhealthy; however, all of the things we combine with it tend to be. So, if you're drinking coffee at home, your syrup, milk, and food choices that go with it will likely be saving you a lot of calories throughout the day!
Not Ready to Give Up The Coffeeshop? Here are the Lowest Cost Drinks.
If you're totally unreceptive to ditching the coffee shop, consider switching to some cheaper options to save yourself money each month! Drip coffee, Americanos (espresso and hot water), Red Eyes (espresso and coffee), and espresso shots are excellent lower-cost menu items! The best part? If you add your own milk and sugar at the coffee shop's complimentary station, you can make a lot of tasty concoctions!
However, if you're almost ready to take the leap but are worried about giving up the coffee shop's food options, NEVER FEAR! There's an at-home answer to that, too. The majority of coffee shops offer cold or hot breakfast sandwiches. These can be easily replaced by just making your own (it's a lot easier than you think). Or, if you don't want to make your own, a lower cost option is to buy some pre-made breakfast sandwiches that can be heated in a microwave or toaster oven!
Paying for Atmosphere? Here are Some FREE Options!
Work from home and worried about giving up your coffeehouse office space?? Then, consider going to the park! As weird as it seems, plenty of public parks offer free Wi-Fi nowadays, and you can enjoy hearing the birds chirp as you work from a park bench!
However, if you're not so keen on working outside (or if it's raining), you could always go work in a community library or a bookstore! Libraries and bookstores are often just happy to have people coming in and engaging in their store. You'll be saving money, have some ambiance, and you might be able to meet some entertaining and exciting friends.
A Few Other Reasons Coffee at Home ROCKS.
In this humble financial planner's opinion, too much of a good thing is never good! That goes for coffee, coffeehouses, and caffeine in general. Staying at home or making your coffee will save you money and calories and keep the coffeehouse special. Making coffee at home could even be a fun pass time you enjoy with your kids, significant other, or roommates!
The money you save each day/month/year on coffee will be put to better utilize if you put it to good use by working with a financial planner to save, invest, or build an emergency fund! "The Perfect Brew reports that women spend about $2,327 per year on their coffee habit, while men spend almost $400 less, at $1,934 per year.", according to Yahoo, which is significantly more than we estimated in the example above. Consider how much good two thousand dollars could do for your family's bottom-line each year!
Interested in learning more practical tips on ways to save money and plan for your financial future? If so, please call or email to schedule an appointment with me. Then, you can work on your coffee-making skills while I create a financial plan that helps you and your family live your best lives while still working towards the financial future you want!
Together, we can create a financial plan that's an excellent fit for you and your state!
Until next time...this is Melissa Making Cents!
Melissa Anne Cox, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, is a College Planning and Student Loan Advisor and Financial Coach in Dallas, Texas.