A great cup of coffee is worth the money, right?
Well, that all depends.
There’s a good chance you justify paying top-dollar for your favorite coffee because you don’t have to make it yourself. There’s the investment in the equipment and syrups. Or, spending that time just doing it. Being able to drop into a local coffee shop (or drive through) sounds good when you’re craving some java.
The True Cost of Your Favorite Cup of Joe
But… let’s do some math.
Like how you hear with personal finance-type posts, spending the $4.45 on a venti Vanilla Bean Crème Frappuccino at Starbucks each day of the work week quickly adds up. Take the 260 average workdays in a year and you’re spending $1,157!
That’s a mortgage payment and then some for a lot of us!
Compare this to buying a modest latte machine on Amazon (under $200) and some vanilla coffee syrup to make your own drinks at home. Heck, you could throw in the paper cups (about $10/12 pack) and still make out like a bandit.
That’s not all.
Your average wait time in a Starbucks drive-through is about 4 1/2 minutes. Tack on however long it took you to get there (or diverge from your commute) and before long you’re at maybe 10 – 15 minutes. Factor how much your time is worth — let’s say hourly wage — and that cup of Joe might have cost a theoretical $7-$10 if not more!
And that’s just coffee.
The Surprising Wallet-Burn of Beer and Spirits
What about the other drinks we love like grabbing a beer out with some friends. Or, that specialty cocktail you oh-so-wanted while lounging on the beach? In the U.S., your average cost of beer is pushing $5-$6 in a lot of places. You can expect spirits to come in almost double.
You know they’re gouging your wallet because that’s just how it goes — you’re out having fun.
What if, instead, you halved your drink obsession?
Where you made drinks at your home by ponying up the up-front costs of a good machine or supplies. Suddenly, you can easily afford the times you go out for a night or pick up the special java on those must-need-energy type of days.
Your Favorite Drinks — The Smart Way
Try this for our combination of java, beer, and spirits:
Knock-off Recipes for Coffee Favorites
Those willing to put in the extra effort and finances will brew some delicious drinks at home.
- Invest in a good coffee machine like the Moccamaster or Aeropress
- Buy your favorite syrups, sugars, and garnishes from a local or favorite online store
- Find and follow along copycat recipes on Copykat, Delish, or some on FoodFeatures
Bam! You’ve just made your favorite java drink in half the time and a fraction of the cost.
Getting a Better Beer through Science
Perhaps a beer tastes better when in good company, or maybe it’s the bar’s equipment — try this:
- Ditch the bottles and cans for kegerator or aerator system to add carbonation making it taste like tap
- Try adding a touch of beer salts, squeezed juice, or a slice of lemon/lime/strawberry
- Start brewing your own beer using a kit or upgrade to a larger distillery setup
Homebrewing would give you the best bang for your buck as you find yourself enjoying a new hobby while balancing out the cost of drinking out vs in.
Finding Soul in the Spirits
What about the hard stuff? Well, you can’t go moon-shining but you can do these for the next best thing:
- Visit the membership clubs to pick up the big bottles of liquor or wine
- Try aerating your wine either through a dedicated tool or simply pulsing it in the blender a few seconds
- Learn how to actually pour and mix liquor (no eyeballing!) to experience the flavor and not the wiggles
Social? No, But It Does Save Money
Sure, this means you don’t get to linger around the 20-somethings hanging at Starbucks. And, you’re not bumping into people at the bars and clubs. But, you are saving a good deal of money throughout the year by concocting your favorite drinks at home — plus, you can always use those savings to go big when you do go out!
Look beyond that up-front cost to the long-term savings.