When it comes to urban legends of questionable veracity, “you’ll save big money by not buying coffee from a cafe” is one of the most commonly recited ones — probably up there with that one about how your roommate’s cousin’s boyfriend’s Pilates teacher once bought some gum that had spider eggs in it.
But every time you plunk down cash for yet another PSL, it’s hard not to think about whether you’re sabotaging your financial future through your fancy coffee habit.
Could you really be effortlessly building a safety net for yourself, simply by brewing a cup at home? Are you literally latte-ing away your life?
Well, yes and no. Yes, you can obviously cut down your costs and build up your savings by tightening your budget and minimizing unnecessary spending — which, for you, may mean cutting out delicious, frothy lattes prepared for you by friendly strangers.
But skipping lattes isn’t necessarily the financial cure-all that it is often presented as. And making coffee at home isn’t the only way to develop greater financial responsibility in life.
Rather, thinking about the so-called “latte factor” presents you with a good opportunity to explore the difference between cutting small and big costs when it comes to building a budget — and how important it is to understand the difference between “needs” and “wants” when it comes to budgeting. Let’s grind it down.
Exactly How Much Money Making Your Own Coffee Saves
Let’s start with the bare facts: yes, you will obviously save money by making your coffee at home rather than buying it on the way to work. You always save money by making things at home — be it coffee, sandwiches, pants, babies, whatever. Depending on where you live and how you prefer to take your hot caffeine water, if you’re buying coffee, you’re spending between $1 and $5 per cup. Meanwhile, brewing a cup of coffee at home costs you between 16 and 18 cents per cup.
This means that if you opt to buy coffee at a cafe, you’re spending between $5 and $25 a week — and thus, $20 to $100 a month, and between $240 and $1,200 a year — on coffee (while someone who brews at home is spending around $45 a year on coffee). Yes, the difference between $45 and $1,200 is pretty stark, so obviously, making your own coffee is an opportunity to save some money.
However, don’t start feeling latte-shamed — cutting out coffee is not the only way to save money. And depending on the rest of your expenses, it might not even be the best place to start. So before you sentence yourself to a life free of adorable latte art, write out a list of all your monthly expenses, and figure out what you’re actually wasting the most money on.
So, Is It Worth Cutting Out?