Myth of the Latte Money Woes

“Housing, health care, and education cost the average family 75 percent of their discretionary income in the 2000s. The comparable figure in 1973: 50 percent. Indeed, studies demonstrate that the quickest way to land in bankruptcy court was not by buying the latest Apple computer but through medical expenses, job loss, foreclosure, and divorce. Giving up a latte or another such small extravagance in this environment wasn’t going to be enough. Yet the personal finance shills continued to tell people their problems were mostly of their own making.”

– Published by Helaine Olen in agreement with Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © Helaine Olen, 2012.


I recently read yet another financial independency article propagating the advice that if only you stopped buying a fancy coffee drink, you’d save hundreds, or even thousand dollars, in one month. In How Taking a ‘Frugal Month’ Can Help You Save Big This Holiday Season,  one blogger claims to have saved “$1,000 to $1,500 every month” by, get this, “not buying a latte in the morning” and eating out as often.

Sorry, what? The average person does not buy a latte every morning. By my calculations, I purchase one latte a month before our 3-hour monthly meeting, not at Starbucks but at Dunkin Donuts, with a coupon, for $1.99.

Eating out can add up fast, but not $1500 a month fast (or you know, your monthly rent…). We eat out on Friday nights, using coupons, spending around $40 for two people. Think Thai drunken noodles, $5 happy hour specials, and tip. If every week,  this adds up to $120 a month for two people. Add in that pumpkin spice Dunkin latte and you’re at $121.99, a far cry from $1,500.

Now, being frugal is totally possible, but the ‘save $1500 a month by not buying a latte” phenomenon recently plaguing the internet is pure garbage. Besides, if you’re already buying $5 a day lattes, you’re most likely spending a whole lot more on other nonessentials too.

So, is it just me? Are you, too, tired of financial gurus selling you their trademark secrets in books and interviews, taking that same money they want you to save by not enjoying a latte once in a while?


These are the ramblings of a coffee loving cheapskate and proud of it. Want more? Follow my blog! It’s free and I promise I won’t take away your precious caffeine. 🙂 


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