Monday, May 24, 2010

Minimizing the Latte Factor

A few years ago, a man named David Bach coined the term "latte factor". It basically means that small, incidental purchases every day can add up to be a lot of money over the course of months and years. Your daily $3 latte habit would end up costing you over $1000 a year, hence the name "latte factor". While some people's latte factor might be cosmetics or magazines, mine is definitely lattes, but here's how I'm getting it under control and still indulging.

First off, I'm brewing my coffee at home more often. I'll make a pot on Monday, put the remainder in the refrigerator for coffee later on in the week or iced coffee! Yum! Put a little milk and sugar in it and it tastes just like what you'd get at a coffee shop. Hint: if you have a Cost Plus World Market nearby, that is my favorite place to grab bags of coffee. Their coffee is great and really reasonably priced ($6 for a pound). Ask for a punch card and for every 6 bags purchased, you get a free bag! Plus, if you go on Wednesdays, you get double punches so it only takes 3 bags! It is seriously one of my favorite deals!

I still allow myself to have 2-3 lattes a week. To me, I really like having that treat, and happiness for $3 is pretty cheap in my opinion. How do I limit myself and still enjoy? I have a Starbucks card that I load at the beginning of every month with $25. Keeping that money on a Starbucks card versus using cash or a credit/debit card keeps me accountable - once it's gone, it's gone for the month. A bonus about having a Starbucks card is that if you register it, you earn one reward point every time you pay with your card. Once you get a certain amount of reward stars, you're eligible for things like free drinks, coupons, free wifi in stores, free drink customization... a pretty good deal if you're already planning on getting coffee anyway!

What's your "latte factor" and are you doing anything to keep it in check?


  1. I'm reading his Automatic Millionaire book right now...I think Bach's take on budgets is interesting. He says they don't work for most people after awhile and you should pay yourself first. I agree you should pay yourself first, but don't you also need some sort of budget so you don't run out of money?

  2. Oooh - maybe I'll have to put that on my book list! It'd be interesting to hear why he thinks budgets don't work for most people. I'm convinced you should have a ballpark figure for how much you spend in major categories so you can plan - I totally agree with you, Kelly!

  3. Buying coffee adds up fast! I keep my coffee spending in check by buying coffee at Costco since it's around $10 for 2 pounds. Add in some flavored creamer, put it in my commuter mug, and I'm good to go! I also realized that part of the reason I'd go to Starbucks was to get out of the office for a few minutes-- now I'll just go for a walk if I want fresh air.

  4. Get one of these: I think it was like $15 and combined with a microwave and stovetop espresso maker (or just brew your coffee strong), you can have a latte in minutes for cheap.

    My "latte factor" is lunch at work. I try to take leftovers but sometimes there's just nothing appetizing. It's my latte factor for weight loss too :(.

  5. Meghan - I totally agree about knowing what you really want from a coffee break. It's usually less about the coffee and more about the break. So just go for a walk! Good for your health and your wallet! Thanks!

    BrewerDave - I hear you about lunch. Sometimes taking leftovers is just so unsexy. :) I bring my lunch 90% of the time. I'll probably eat out once every other week, so when I do, I don't feel that bad about it. But that adds up after awhile...and you're also right about it adding on the calories, too!