Could Your Coffee Habit Really Be Costing You a Million Dollars? One Angry Finance Expert Thinks So.

updated Jun 11, 2019
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Finance expert Suze Orman hit the Twitterverse recently with advice for her audience: stop buying coffee. If you put away the money you were spending on coffee into a retirement account and made the coffee at home, she reasons, you would end up with a million dollars down the line. Buying coffee out of the house is a need, not a want, she insists, and you’re “peeing away” that millionaire status. I call BS.

Okay, I’m but a mere food writer, not an economist, but I see a lot of problems with this. The first of which is that she estimates the coffee is $1-3 each day, and that somehow becomes $100 a month. Right away a red flag went up. Say in the most generous of those circumstances, you’re spending $3 and it is truly every day, not just every workday: $3 x 31 days=$93. Not to mention, you’ll need to buy the coffee and coffee brewing equipment to make it at home — say you already have an apparatus, it’s still about $15 each month on beans and filters. So already there’s exaggeration. I won’t try to fight her on math though, because that’s not my area of expertise: let’s talk about the value of the coffee.

“It’s a ritual,” she says around 15 seconds in. And there she proves my point better than anyone can. Sure, you can make coffee at home — and many people do — but for people who enjoy buying coffee out, there’s a ritual in doing so. Maybe it’s the small talk with their favorite barista, maybe it’s the walk to the shop with their dog or the first breaths of fresh air. But I suspect the value of the happiness that ritual gives them exceeds saving a few dollars every month. I know, for me, I do better work when I follow my most uplifting daily rituals. And in the long run, that makes me a better employee and earns me more money in the long run.

So if you are looking for ways to cut costs, by all means, brew at home. But if you think you should stop your morning ritual because an angry “finance expert” dressed in all gold (?!) is yelling at you that you’re peeing away your retirement fund, I’m happy to be here as your “food expert” telling you to drink the coffee that you most enjoy, in the way that makes you happy.