Here's how rich you'd be if you stopped drinking expensive coffee

How To Stop Drinking Coffee

Last week I was in Starbucks, and found they now have a list of enticing new lattes. One was tiramisu! Starbucks will be glad to know that the tiramisu latte did not disappoint. On taste, that is. The price tag for a tall tiramisu latte with coconut milk in my area is a staggering $5. That's right: five dollars. For what ultimately amounts to a small coffee with some flavors and milk substitute thrown in. Oh my.

Fortunately for my pocketbook, I usually home brew. I have a very nice coffee maker that had an upfront cost the equivalent of 40 tall tiramisu lattes with coconut milk (after my 20% Bed Bath and Beyond coupon). Sure, it was expensive, but like I said; I'm a coffee lover, and the coffee it auto-grinds and brews is so delicious that I'm often disappointed when I'm out and have to buy from a coffee shop. (See also: 12 Ways to Make Better Coffee at Home)

Before I get all annoying and tell you how much your five-dollar-a-day coffee habit is costing you, I want you to know that I'm not picking on Starbucks. You can run the same numbers by picking your favorite brew from Peet's or Caribou or Costa, or wherever you happen to frequent. Heck, skip the coffee analogy altogether and substitute cigarettes, a microbrew at your local hang-out, cable TV, or whatever daily vice you think is harmless to your pocketbook.

What's most important is that, before you make even the smallest of financial decisions, you understand the big picture effect. Maybe you'll decide your daily latte is worth the long-term price. But, before you decide, you should understand the variables. (See also: 73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today)

$5 a Day for 40 Years Could Buy a House (in Today's Dollars)

If you took $5 a day and put it in an 8% investment like a low-cost, well diversified index fund (I love Vanguard, if you're looking for one!) for 40 years, that daily foregone latte could compound to a staggering $510,600.40. Don't want to wait 40 years? The daily tiramisu latte habit adds up to $1,971 over a year, $11,563,07 over five, and $28,553.01 over 10. Just think about all the vacations you could take with that extra dough, or all the kids' college accounts you could fund, or all the debts you could pay off (and save yourself the interest payments!). The possibilities are endless. (See also: This is How Rich You'd Be if You'd Saved All the Money You Earned in High School)

But I Don't Want to Give Up That Much Coffee

I love coffee, even the five dollar variety, even though I know how much it costs to my long-term bottom line.

Drop just one froufrou cuppa from your weekly routine and you'll still see great investment results. Assume again you take that $5 per week and invest it in that low-cost index fund (which we'll assume returns 8% per year) and you'll earn $280.80 per year, $4,067.83 in 10, and $72,743.07 after 40 years. It's no McMansion in the burbs but $70k is still enough for a double wide in the country or a condo in the city. (See also: How to Save $26,000 in 5 Years or Less)

No, Really, I Just Can't Give up My Coffee

I get it. Really, I do. Sometimes a daily habit means more than what we have to gain by giving it up. So, in my last ditch effort to show you that little changes lead to big results, let's see how much you have to gain by giving up just one fancy coffee per month.

In one year (assuming an 8% annual return): $64.80. In 10: $938.73. In 40: $16,786.86. Even giving up just one $5 coffee per month can make a sizable difference over time. (See also: 16 Easy Ways to Save $100 This Month)

Just for fun, here's an expanded version of the numbers so you can choose your own timeframe and dollar savings.

coffee expensive money

The next time you find yourself pulling a fiver out of your wallet for a seemingly inconsequential expense, I hope you'll think twice and consider the long-term cost of that impulse buy. Just plug the cost of that impulse buy into a compound savings calculator and see how much you'll save — and earn. Over time, the decision could just fund your next home, vacation, or child's college tuition. Or, Howard Schultz's pocketbook. The choice is yours.

What daily expense would you be willing to give up for a house in 40 years?

Related: 15 things you can stop wasting your money on

15 things you can stop wasting your money on
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Here's how rich you'd be if you stopped drinking expensive coffee

1. Cable TV

With the advent of Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Apple TV, there's hardly a reason to splurge on a fancy DVR system or even basic cable — so long as you're willing to be patient.

Most shows are added at least 24-hours after airing and some networks won't give them up until eight days.

See some great alternatives to cable TV here.

Via Business Insider

Photo Credit: Getty

2. Bank fees

Banks love to slap you with fees at the drop of a hat, but that doesn't mean you've got to put up with it.

"Consider going with a credit union, which are better than banks in many ways, to avoid some of these fees," says Andrew Schrage, founder of

"If you travel abroad often, make sure you use credit cards without foreign transaction fees, otherwise you'll be paying an extra 3% to 5% on all your purchases."

Via Business Insider

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3. Extended warranties

Retailers push hard to sell you extended warranties — and conveniently pump up their sales figures at the same time.

Don't do it, Schrage warns.

"The only instance I'd recommend a warranty is in the case of a laptop. Otherwise, the warranties themselves can often cost as much as simply buying a used or new replacement for your item, or repairing it," he adds.

Via Business Insider

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4. The roof over your head

If you're blowing most of your income on a loft in Midtown, you're making a big mistake, says Jeremy Gregg, executive director of the PLAN Fund.

His organization provides loans to low-income entrepreneurs, who Gregg says he often sees spend more than half their income on rent and utilities.

The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development recommends spending less than one-third of your income on housing.

Via Business Insider

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5. Unnecessary smartphone data

"Many of us (including me) pick a cell phone plan, then never check to see if it's the right one for us based on our usage," writes author of "I Will Teach You To Be Rich," Ramit Sethi. "Because the average cell phone bill is about $50, that's $600 per year of money you can optimize."

When buying a new cell phone, Sethi likes to pay a little bit more upfront by choosing the unlimited data and text messaging plan. He then sets a three-month check-in on his calendar, and analyzes his spending patterns after a few months to see where he can cut back.

You can use this method for any usage-based services, he says.

Via Business Insider

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6. Online shipping

Nearly all retailers offer some sort of option that gets your purchases to your doorstep without additional fees.

Zappos and L.L. Bean are among the rarest breed of businesses offering free shipping on every single purchase, but most companies will demand a minimum purchase.

To help track down deals on shipping, use The site stores information on expiration dates, tells you much to spend to qualify, and lets you search by store name or product.

Otherwise, check out CouponSherpa or Retailmenot, which offer discount codes for free shipping.

Via Business Insider

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

7. Cheap art

Environmental designer Pablo Solomon says picking up knockoff prints and other art is a great way to blow cash for no good reason.

"Nothing sends me through the roof like the art sold on cruise ships and at resorts," Solomon says. "(They're) basically glorified posters being sold as originals."

The best way to score deals on art is to track up and comers, he says. You can nab their art early on and laugh your way to the bank after they've made it big.

Via Business Insider

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8. Fast food

You're only hurting yourself (and your wallet) if you're feeding yourself out of the bodega around the corner from your home or office.

"I am shocked at how many people live paycheck-to-paycheck and yet routinely spend $10 per day on fast food and convenience store food," Gregg says.

If you're looking for an alternative to brown-bagging it, check out how to shop for the healthiest foods at the grocery store for the least amount of money, and start preparing your own food.

Via Business Insider

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9. Piecemeal insurance

Buying overpriced insurance for things like accidental death and diseases is an easy way to blow your funds.

"Instead of buying piecemeal insurance policies, get good term life insurance and disability insurance," says Sally Herigstad, a certified public accountant and columnist.

Take a look at the types of insurance you should buy at every age.

Via Business Insider

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10. Lousy gifts

Personal finance expert Dani Johnson suggests you think twice before rushing out to buy Dad another tie this Christmas.

"You should make a pact with your friends and family to give back instead," Johnson says. "Pool a percentage of money you were going to spend on gifts and give a secret blessing to somebody who is truly in need."

If you want to buy a great gift without completely breaking the bank, check out these holiday gift ideas for under $50.

Via Business Insider

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11. Weight loss traps

Weight loss pills and supplements marketed as miracles for overweight couch potatoes are most likely traps.

"Not only are there enough pills and potions that you could start a new one each week, but the negative effects on your health outweighs the money you will waste," says nutritionist Rania Batayneh.

"This is a billion dollar industry and the truth is that a lean body does not come in a pill," Batayneh says.

Via Business Insider

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12. Lottery tickets

"Sure, you can (buy a lottery ticket) every once in a while just for fun, but never make a lottery purchase with any real expectation of winning," Schrage warns.

"The odds are significantly stacked against you, and why waste your hard-earned money on lottery tickets when you could be saving for retirement or treating yourself to a nice meal?"

Via Business Insider

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13. Brand new cars

"People get bored with cars quickly. They always want a new car and so they're always dealing with a car payment," says certified financial planner Michael Egan. "But it's a hugely depreciating asset. You don't want to be putting a lot of money into something that's going to be worth nothing after a certain number of years."

Look for used car options, which could save you a substantial amount of money. Check out Kelley Blue Book to get an idea of how much you should pay for a used car.

Another option is leasing a car. You can determine whether or not this is a good option for you by following this flow chart.

Via Business Insider

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14. Subscriptions

Subscriptions — to magazines, newspapers, and the gym — can add up, and oftentimes, we don't use them as much as we had originally planned.

Sethi recommends implementing what he calls the 'à la carte' method, which takes advantage of psychology to cut our costs.

"Cancel all the discretionary subscriptions you can: your magazines, TiVo, cable — even your gym," Sethi explains in "I Will Teach You To Be Rich." "Then, buy what you need à la carte. Instead of paying for a ton of channels you never watch on cable, buy only the episodes you watch for $1.99 each off iTunes. Buy a day pass for the gym each time you go."

It works for three reasons, Sethi writes: You're likely overpaying already, you're forced to be conscious about your spending, and you value what you pay for.

Via Business Insider

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15. A morning latte

Author of "The Automatic Millionaire," David Bach, coined the term, "The Latte Factor," which basically says that if you ditch your $4 latte every morning, you'd have quite a bit of money to contribute towards savings — about $30 a week, or $120 a month). Over the course of a few decades, that money could grow substantially.

Rather, invest in a nice coffee maker, even if the price tag is a bit steep. Oftentimes, spending more on high quality items can help you save in the long run.

It can seem counterintuitive to make purchases to save, but that's what some of the most successful money-savers do. They're not just buying things, they're investing in things — tools and services — that will eventually save them money over time.

Via Business Insider

Photo Credit: Getty


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