Whether you are a Tim Hortons fan or a Starbucks aficionada, Suze Orman, finance expert and best-selling author of Women and Money, has harsh words: “I wouldn’t buy a cup of coffee anywhere, ever — and I can afford it — because I would not insult myself by wasting money that way.”
In an interview with CNBC, Ms. Orman said that, by spending $100 on coffee each month, you forgo the opportunity to put that $100 into a registered investment account, whereby, after 40 years of earning a 12% rate of return, you would have around $1 million.
“You are peeing $1 million down the drain as you are drinking that coffee,” Orman said in the CNBC interview. Enjoy!
The idea of saving coffee money as a way to get rich has bounced around for decades, and the internet was quick to deride Ms. Orman’s remarks. “Save $1 Million by Forgoing Coffee and Joy of Any Kind in This Soulless World,” wrote Eater. Mae Rice, a writer at Vox, estimates she has spent around $20,000 at Starbucks over the past 12 years and says, “Paying for a tiny dose of luxury doesn’t make me an irresponsible millennial.”
Most of the criticism of the “coffee money millionaire” theory centres around the fact that small, affordable pleasures can brighten our day. Few of us want to live a spartan, miserly life, working for the man, deprived of any indulgences, day-in and day-out for 40 or 50 years until the day we finally retire and have a damn cappuccino.
However. To Orman’s point, small costs do add up to real money. There are myriad expenses you might be paying without really noticing, and certainly without pleasure. Perhaps it’s time to clean out your financial closets. Here are a few possible examples of the extra dollars you might find:
- Account fees – Monthly or annual fees are often negotiable depending on your balance. Recent fees can sometimes be reversed, simply by asking.
- Credit card fees – Is the annual fee on your credit card worth its perks? If you don’t need all the benefits, switch to a no-fee card, and at a lower interest rate while you’re at it.
- Memory storage fees – Are you overpaying for storage limits you don’t use?
- Membership fees – Some websites encourage you to pay a fee in order to elicit bigger discounts when you shop. Evaluate these to make sure they’re still working in your favour.
- Online subscription fees – From news sites to music services to business services, how many $5, $10, $20 per month services are you paying for, that you may not need?
- App fees – People are notorious for downloading apps and never deleting them. If you’ve paid to upgrade, your credit card is likely on automatic rotation for renewing the service. Put your Marie Kondo hat on and cancel and delete any apps that no longer “spark joy.”
Of course, central to Ms. Orman’s thesis is that you need to take this saved money and invest it and earn 12% annually for 40 years. If this is your goal, set up an automatic withdrawal system to make the $100 payments each month. A financial advisor can help you find the right strategy to attain the elusive 12%. (Which seems a tad high, by the way.) Then relax and enjoy your coffee in peace.