An important part of a frugal mindset is using the money you have for things that are important to you. Many people line up at the coffee shop every day to spend a few dollars on a coffee, often with a pastry or a breakfast sandwich. Small things like that can add up to a surprising amount of money over a few months or years. Do you know how much your coffee habit is costing you? Over the break, I coded a small tool to calculate how much a daily coffee habit can cost you. You can find it at http://www.coffeecostcalculator.com.
If the amount you spend is not aligned with your priorities, what can you do? Don’t worry, I wouldn’t be able to give up coffee either. But there are many viable alternatives to stopping at the coffee shop. If you can make your own coffee at work, it’s not much of a challenge. A bag of coffee from Costco, boiling water and a French press is enough to make great coffee for a long time. And as a bonus, you reduce waste by avoiding paper cups.
You can also make your own coffee at home and bring it with you if it’s too hard to make your own at work. When I was at the university, I saved a lot of money by bringing my thermos of coffee at school. Every morning, I would stumble in the kitchen, pour ground coffee and water in my 15$ single-serve coffee maker and grab the coffee on my way out. A small coffee every day at the cafeteria would have cost me at least 500$ for a year, which is a lot of money for a student.
You can cut many other small expenses with a bit of creative thinking and planning ahead, allowing you to put that money to better use. I rarely buy granola bars for example: my own bars and muffins are cheaper and a lot more tasty. Once every few week, I go on a cooking spree and make a lot of them in advance, freezing the rest. What do you do to save on the small stuff? Tell me in the comments, and don’t forget to check out my Coffee cost calculator!