When I meet with bankruptcy clients, they are often having trouble making ends meet. Sometimes when we go over their budgets, it’s the little things that add up to big costs. Here in Sherman Oaks, we consume a lot of coffee. There are more than 80 dedicated coffee shops in Sherman Oaks alone!
Coffee may seem like no small expense. It’s only a few dollars each time right? Guess again. Accounting Principals’ Workonomix survey showed that the average US worker spends $1,108.64 per year on coffee alone. They spend another $1,924.00 on lunch each year. That’s $3,032.64 per year combined. If you took that money and instead invested it and earned even just a 3% return, then over an average worker’s career of 30 years you would save $145,255.27. Those small trips to Starbucks and to the lunch place around the corner. They’re costing you about $150,000.00 once retirement rolls around.
Obviously, we have to eat lunch and many of us aren’t about to give up our morning cup of coffee. So here are some ways to save on those coffee cups and lunches:
When it comes to coffee, the best way to save is to give it up. It may sound impossible, but there are some health benefits along with the money savings. We’ve all heard about coffee withdrawal, but for most people the symptoms really aren’t that bad and should go away in a few days. If you can’t give up coffee, you’re next best move is to go for the cheap stuff. You’d be surprised how good some of the discount brands of coffee are. For buying coffee when you’re out, most major gas stations and convenience stores offer coffee at prices much lower than coffee shops like Starbucks. For example, 7-11, Burger King, and McDonald’s, all have coffee for just 99 cents. Many local Sherman Oaks cafes will often have discounted coffee for less than a dollar to get customers in the door. Don’t worry about the taste either, blind taste tests have shown that the expensive stuff usually doesn’t taste better when people don’t know which brand their drinking.
You can save even more by getting a refillable cup and making coffee at home. When choosing a coffee brand at the store, the same is true with expensive brands generally performing no better than cheap ones on taste tests.
As for lunches, you can always try to find a less expensive place to go that’s nearby work, but most of us choose the lunch spot for convenience and location – things we don’t have much control over. The best bet is to make it at home and bring it to work. You can make a lunch for about $3 a day, which is a big savings over the $7.50 average spent on eating out. Often, you can just bag leftovers from dinner and save even more.
These tips may not seem like much each day, but they add up. If you could reduce your coffee and food costs by just $4 per day that would save you about $1,000.00 per year.