How Much Do You Spend on Coffee?

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If you don’t drink coffee you are not excused from reading this article. You can simply fill in the blank with whatever applies to you:
“How much do you spend on __________?”

Vending machines, cigarettes, pop/soda, lottery tickets … pick your poison. The reason I chose coffee for this discussion is because I’ve been working at Starbucks for the past 2 months (read more about going from a dietitian to a barista here) and my store sees about 90 people per half hour during peak time (7am-10am). That’s a lot of people, a lot of coffee, and a lot of money spent.

My Starbucks is located in a 40+ floor corporate building with multiple companies. There are so many regulars that come through our coffee shop I can go without a watch from 6 am until 10 am and still know what time it is based on what customer I’m serving. We see regulars coming around the corner, start making their drink, and have it ready by the time they get to the register. This is great for Starbucks revenue, but I decided to add up the daily spending habits of some of my regulars to see what kind of damage it did to their wallet.

Customer #1: Grande Americano x 2 ($3.10 each), Grande Green Tea ($2.05)
Customer #2: Grande Nonfat Latte ($4.10) x 2 and a Blueberry Scone ($2.25)

Customer #1:
$8.25 per day
$41.25 per week
$2,062 per year (50 weeks)

Customer #2:
$10.45 per day
$52.25 per week
$2,612.50 per year (50 weeks)

If Customer #2 simply brought her own breakfast or ate before leaving for work (hard boiled egg + banana + peanut butter= ~$0.55 per day), she would be saving $562.50 per year from NOT getting the blueberry scone that, despite having blueberries in it, is not even a healthy choice and is unlikely to hold her over until lunch. If this customer simply cut back and made this purchase 3 days each week instead of 5, she’d save $1,045 per year.

I know time is a big factor for some of my customers. If you have no line to wait in, it takes less time to get a drink and snack than to prepare your own breakfast. However, I don’t think that’s a valid enough excuse. Tossing a scoop of oatmeal and nuts in a container before you head to bed takes seconds and you can heat it up in the microwave at work while you follow up on emails. As for hardboiled eggs- making a dozen ahead of time makes mornings even easier as you grab one on your way out the door.

So what is it for you? It’s amazing how a few bucks a day can add up to thousands each year. Can you imagine what that yearly chunk of money would do if it was put toward something useful like a Roth IRA or your non-existing emergency fund? I challenge you to keep track of your monthly expenses if you already don’t and see if there are areas where you can “trim the fat” and put it toward something with a better return rate than a temporary caffeine kick.

What do you tend to spend a few dollars here and there on?
If you’ve made changes, what have you done with the money you save?

This has been a guest post from Jessica. She is a Registered Dietitian and shares practical, useful tips on food, fitness, and finance. Be sure to subscribe to her blog, Budget For Health.

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