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The Daily Caffeine Fix On Limited Funds
Coffee on a Budget
No one in their right mind would suggest to you that you give up your daily dose of coffee just to save a little bit of cash. After all, you might want to save up for a rainy day and you might want to start living more within your budget, but wants and needs are very different things and there are days when you NEED your coffee. Believe me, as a girl who has been drinking coffee since her mother added drops of it to her formula to warm the bottle, I know about the intensity of the need for caffeine. But, as a girl who is trying to afford life on a freelance budget in one of the most expensive cities in the country, I also know about the importance of getting your coffee on a budget.
Luckily, there are a few small changes which you can make to your daily java habit to cut down on the amount of cutting into your budget that your nasty-but-necessary habit does. By slightly altering your coffee routine, you can form new habits which will help you to start seeing immediate rewards in the personal finance department without limiting your caffeine intake. Does saving money and still getting your fix sound good? Let's take a look at how it can be done.
First of all, you should start by doing your drinking at home. Take a moment to compare the cost of an entire bag of coffee beans to the cost of a single cup of java bought at the local café and you'll rapidly see that you're wasting your money by always drinking out of the house. The most common reason why people choose to pick up coffee at a café (or drive-thru!) is that they think it saves time. However, if you pick up an inexpensive coffee maker with a timer on it, you can set your coffee to brew at night and be ready for you in the morning. Grab a traveler cup (or two, or three) and get yourself on the road with that first dose of much-needed jolt.
Okay, so maybe you already do a lot of your coffee drinking at home but the thing that's breaking your proverbial piggy bank is that you have an addiction to that late-afternoon coffee break which is virtually imperative to getting through your day. Sure, you could put a coffee maker in your cubicle to save on cash, but we both know that part of what keeps you sane is getting out of the office to get that joe. So, how do you manage that while still saving your money? First off, cut back on the fancy schmancy and go with the simple. Yes, the double spicy mocha-loca cappuccino is tasty, but the plain old cup of coffee offers more caffeine at a fraction of the cost. You don't have to cut out the good stuff altogether, but if you replace your expensive tastes with the less-pricey drink four times for every five, you'll save anywhere from $10 - $20 per week.
Now that you've got the drink habits down, you should also consider your purchasing preferences. Whenever possible, go the extra block down to the independent coffee shop instead of going with the name-brand chain. Although it's not always true, it's usually the case that the smaller spots have less expensive coffee. Also, look around your area for unusual spots where coffee might come cheap. For example, the truffles store down the street from me sells excellent coffee for just $1 ... and it comes with a free truffle!
Finally, make a note of what you pay out in tips at the coffee shop. Having been a barista myself at one point in time, I have a tendency to always grab an extra dollar and toss it into the tip jar. But is that really necessary? The extra change from your drink is generally sufficient as a tip on the quick cup of coffee that took only minutes to pour. If you regularly frequent the same places, you can even consider replacing the daily tip with seasonal gifts to your baristas. Yes, cash is nice, but the thoughtful gift dropped off in the coffee shop on random holidays will actually be appreciated ... and will cost you less in the long run.
So, there you have it. No one is saying that you should give up your daily coffee routine or cut back on the amount of caffeine that you know is necessary to get you through the day. But you don't have to spend a fortune to make sure that you're making it in our high-energy world either. Make a few small changes and soon you'll find that you have enough spare change in the bank to splurge on fancy Italian brews during the trip to Italy that you can finally afford!