Wednesday, February 4, 2009

To Splurge Or Not to Splurge: Coffee

I'm going to talk a little about lifestyle adjustment. I used to be an IT professional with a decent regular paycheck. Then back in 2002, after the dotcom bubble burst, I decided to pursue my dream to become a full-time visual artist. It was a huge lifestyle change for me. I had never budgeted before, and I was used to having a Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts coffee every morning. $1.50 - $3.50 (latte) a day didn't seem like much money to me, but what that really amounted to was $47-$109 per month just on coffee – That's $564 - $1308 per year. JUST. ON. COFFEE.

It's mind-boggling. Upon first making this shocking discovery, I swung heavily in the direction of skimping. Buying the cheapest (usually the nastiest-tasting) coffee available in the supermarket. Then I realized how stupid that is. You should not think of saving as self-punishment. There are plenty of great off-the-shelf whole bean or ground coffee choices available. If you really like your Starbucks coffee, you can even buy the Starbucks take-home beans or ground coffee to help you transition.

I think it's still okay to treat yourself to a latte once in a while, but budget for that too. I limit myself to once a month.

I guess I'm lucky that my favorite brand is not exorbitant. It's Yuban (pictured here). I had it the first time when I bought it on sale and then just fell in love with it. Unfortunately, not every supermarket sells it. When not on sale, a 12-oz can is around $4.50 ($.15 a cup) and can last a month. The only other cost is a basket coffee filter for my coffee maker. $3 for 100 count ($.03 a cup).

So, that's $.18 a cup. $5.60 versus $47-$109 per month on coffee.


  1. When I was a kid there were ads on tv for Chock Full o' Nuts..."Chock Full o' Nuts is a heavenly coffee, better coffee a millionaire's money can't buy..."

    Now it's all I drink - 33 oz can of Colombian (the French Roast is ok too) is about $8/can at Stop & Shop. Last Sunday there were was a $1 off coupon in the Globe!