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Cut Just One Cup a Week

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Cut out the morning coffee at Starbucks!

Bring a bag lunch!

Stop drinking alcoholic beverages!

Mmmmm CoffeeIf you’ve been trying to find areas to cut back on your budget, those are likely one of the first three things you’ll hear suggested, right? The Latte Factor! It’s horrible that you’re wasting money on coffee you can brew at home! It’s a travesty! Okay, except you don’t have a coffee maker at home, have hardly any time in the morning to brew it, and if you don’t have it… oh boy, your office better watch out because you’ll be one cranky man/woman/beast. And bag lunch? Forget it, you don’t have time to make the lunch, let alone lug it to work, stuff it in the fridge and then eat it alone at your desk later! Alcoholic beverages? That’s the high point in the day, you can’t take that away! Plus, people who go to happy hours earn more… and you want to make more money right? Of course!

Of course, all that was tongue in cheek but the “excuses” are legitimate. It’s difficult to restructure large parts of your day just to save a few dollars but sometimes it’s important to do so. So, rather than make wholesale changes that you’re likely going to abandon within a few weeks, if you can even get started, try doing it incrementally.

Brew your own coffee on Friday. Friday is usually the laxest of all days and many people come in later than their usual start time. Take advantage of this by brewing your own coffee. If you don’t have a coffeemaker, you can buy one for around $20 and a hundred pack of filters for around $4. Then, all it takes is some coffee and you’re on your way to brewing your own coffee. If you really want to be efficient, set it all up the night before and set it to brew before you wake up. You can wake up to the wonderful smell of brewing coffee just like in the commercials! So just brew it on Fridays and you can hit Seattle’s Best Coffee the other four days. If you can save yourself the $3 on Friday coffee habit, that’s $150 a year in savings a year.

Resolve to bring in lunch on Monday. You have all weekend to pack, and cook it if you need to, yourself a nice meal so you can’t complain you have no time at night because you’ll have all day. Monday is also the busiest of work days as everyone catches up from the weekend so you can take advantage by eating at your desk and getting more work done. By cutting out one day of $7 lunches and replacing them with $2 lunches, you can save yourself close to $250 a year. You can get something really nice for $250 a year (or save it!) just by eating lunch on Mondays.

Bag lunch on Monday, brew coffee on Friday – get $400 a year that you can use for whatever you want. As for cutting out alcohol, sorry but you’re on your own on that one. :)

(Photo by ahmedrabea)

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10 Responses to “Cut Just One Cup a Week”

  1. Trent Hamm says:

    Great advice. But don’t blow the extra money – if you save $250 by bringing in your lunch once a week, don’t blow it on a Wii. Instead, use it to make an extra debt payment or invest it in an index fund.

  2. Jesse says:

    Heh heh, seems to be on everyones mind lately: I just wrote yesterday about saving money in the corporate world. I used to have a massive starbucks addiction and I can say, it cost me thousands.

  3. Jason H says:

    Since my employer allows me to work from home when I’m not traveling, I actually do the opposite when I’m at home. On Monday I go out to lunch since I’m usually coming home from a week at a client site and need to unwind. Then on Friday I usually go out to a local coffee shop and enjoy a long morning cup of coffee (and a pastry). I used to feel like I was cheating when I did this because everyone I know works out of an office and they’d talk about how they were cutting back on coffee and lunches out, while I wasn’t. Now however, I chalk it up to the fact that I only get to spend 1 or 2 weeks a month at home with my wife while they spend every night at home.

  4. Todd says:

    These ideas are great to start with, but it’s a bit like trying to bail out water with a teaspoon. If $400 / year is savings worth making a change for, why leave the remaining $1600 on the table ? I kicked the $7 lunch routine a long time ago, and I don’t miss it. I also don’t prepare a “lunch” per se, just take a microwaveable pizza, meal, etc.. If you’re busy at all during the day, I don’t think you’ll miss that bag of fries sitting in your gut all afternoon.

    At this point, I can hardly believe all the people that spend their “lunch money” every day, without fail. If you know much about physiology, you know it’s not a good investment !

  5. mapgirl says:

    Interesting post. I think the bigger thing though is to examine how you pay for the coffee. For instance, if you pay cash every morning for that coffee, but you decide to forgo a cup a week, dump the actual money you would have spent into a real piggy bank and then total it up.

    In divorcing ourselves from currency transactions, we get confused about what we really spend. (FWIW, Marx calls this ‘fetishizing’, where we no longer know the origins of what we buy because we are so far removed from it.) I know that I spend less now that I have moved towards a weekly cash allowance. I’m a crappy budgeter and I always pull out more cash before the week is over, but overall, I have noticed that I spend less on lunches and dinners than I have in the past when I used plastic.

    Having only $7 in cash when it’s time to buy lunch will make a difference in your choice of meals. An artificial scarcity of currency resources will effect your purchase. It’s worth trying it out. For $7, I can go to the local supermarket for a half sub (8″) and drink for $4-5. Or I can go to a local food court and get a really yummy rice bowl with BBQ chicken for $7 and drink water.

    One last thing, one of my girlfriends never buys food on credit cards. EVER. Once I learned that lesson from her, I used my credit cards a lot less for everything. Never buy a consumable like food on credit. Only durable goods, stuff with resale value, or high value items for which carry wads of currency might be a dubious proposition, i.e. traveling.

    Sorry for the posty-posty comment. Sacrificing one store-bought coffee a week is probably a good start for most people. But I think it packs a bigger punch when that money is saved and counted up on the Day of Reckoning at the end of the month. It’s all about messages and impact. Do you really miss $4 of virtual money or $4 cash you forked over?

  6. Phil A. says:

    I bring lunch to work every day and I never buy coffee out. I need that money to go to my other monthly expenses.

  7. Heath says:

    I used to be a Starbucks junkie! But once I figured out how much I was spending on my fix I decided to do something about it. I know that this is extreme and not possible for everyone, I started purchasing raw/green coffee beans and roasting my own at home. I couldn’t believe the difference in quality, taste or MONEY SAVED!!!

    One thing led to another and I ended up starting Java Roastin’. I am now in the business of helping people get off their Starbucks, Caribou, Dunkin’ Dounuts kick and realize what GREAT, FRESH ROASTED coffee actually tastes like! I would be happy to answer any and all questions regarding home roasting or even questions about what we at Java Roastin’ can do for you!

  8. Starbucks makes my hair shrivel up and there’s no time to eat lunch at my workplace. However, I did decide to kick the wine & beer habit. Decided to try it for one month (the shortest month: February!).

    Lo! Not only did it save me a bundle, in one month I lost about six pounds.

    Good for the wallet, good for the bod’.

  9. Grey says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how much the little things add up. I’m currently on a no spend plan for food (I stocked up at the beginning of the month), and so prepare all my lunch and snacks at home. Coffee is free at our office (if you can stomach it), and I use a water bottle to make it through the remainder of the day.

    It’s a lot of work, but I’m eating much healthier, as well. Home-brewed coffee and bag lunches are usually much lower in calories than the Starbucks overflavored latte and the $7 salad option.

  10. Gary says:

    If coffee is available at work, but it’s lousy, become the “coffee guy/gal”. Just using a little more grounds improves most coffee (some people are just used to watery coffee, but tell them to add more water!Duh…). Once you use up the ground coffee the lousy coffee making person was using, buy some beans. Even cheap beans, freshly ground, will beat the expensive grounds, after the bags been left out a few days. Again, use enough grounds, and with the fresh grind, you will become the
    “coffee hero”, and have beat your own need for Starbucks.


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