Showing posts with label Coffee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Coffee. Show all posts

Sunday, November 29, 2015

6 Ways to Save Real Money on Coffee

Beyond the Latte Factor... 6 Ways to Save Real Money on Coffee

6 Ways to Save Money on Coffee
6 Ways to Save Money on Coffee

You have probably heard of the latte factor- this is an illustration of the concept that a small amount of savings or investment can add up over time.  A common example is investing or saving $3 dollars every day instead of buying a latte, thus the term "latte factor".

I think the latte factor is a powerful concept, and I think there are several ways you can save money on coffee and use that money to pay off debt and build your wealth over time.

1. Order simple coffee instead of fancy coffee drinks.  Save the lattes for a treat instead of every day.  This literally removes the latte factor from your budget, saving about $1.50 per day which adds up to over $500 per year.  Plus you can leave a lot of extra calories and fat out of your coffee.  

The coffee in the photo above cost me $3.14 at Starbucks.  Why did Dr. Penny Pincher buy a $3 coffee at Starbucks?  Here's the story behind this purchase...

2. Make great coffee at home.  You can make great coffee at home from fresh ground whole coffee beans for 60 cents per 16 oz. mug.  Coffee at a coffee shop costs about $2 per cup, so you can save about $500 per year by making your own coffee at home instead of buying it at a coffee shop.  If you drink two cups of coffee per day, this adds up to $1,000 per year in savings.

3. Cut back to one cup of coffee per day.  I used to drink two cups of coffee per day at a coffee shop.  Ouch!  Since then, I have started making coffee at home, and I have cut back to one cup of coffee per day.  

If you are drinking two cups of coffee every day and cut back to one, you'll save over $700 per year if you get coffee at a shop or over $200 per year if you make your coffee at home.  

When I cut back to one cup per day, I gradually reduced the amount of caffeine I got by mixing decaf coffee beans with my regular beans.  The key is to gradually reduce your caffeine consumption over a period of time to avoid caffeine headaches.  Here are details on how to painlessly cut back on how much coffee you drink.

4. Find cheaper coffee places.  McDonald's has coffee for $1.39.  This doesn't sound that much cheaper than $2 or more for coffee at Starbucks, but this adds up to a savings of around $150 per year if you drink coffee every day.

5. Go with a smaller size.  Generally, you can order small, medium, and large coffee.  People tend to order the largest size since it is the best value- for only 50 cents more, you can get nearly twice as much coffee.  But if you can train yourself to order the smallest size, you can save over $180 per year.

6. Don't buy scones, muffins, and other stuff at the coffee shop.  Coffee is expensive at coffee shop, but the snacks are even more expensive.  Just stick with coffee and save hundreds each year.

Copyright © 2015 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Why Pay Too Much For Bad Coffee?

"Most people drink bad coffee, and pay too much for it.  I'm not sure which is worse..."  Dr. Penny Pincher

Coffee Statue
Me and My Great Coffee (Only 60 Cents!)
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

You have probably heard of the "latte factor" that is described  by many personal finance experts.  The concept is that you can get ahead financially by saving or investing your money instead of spending it on buying a latte every day.  This is certainly true, but I don't think that many people are actually drinking lattes or other fancy coffee drinks that cost $3 or $4 dollars every day.

I do think that a lot of people buy $2 coffee at coffee shops or even pay $1.79 for bad coffee at convenience stores or fast food drive-thru windows.  Some people buy more than one cup of coffee every day.  I used to be one of those people...

I realized how much I was spending on coffee and decided to make coffee at home instead.  Over time, I figured out how to select whole bean coffee and grind it at home.  I learned a lot of tricks to make really good coffee at home for only 60 cents a day- I even wrote a book about it.

I also cut back from drinking several cups of coffee every day to drinking only one really good cup of coffee every day.  It can be a bit unpleasant to cut back on coffee since it is mildly habit-forming.  Here's how I was able to cut back on coffee and avoid caffeine headaches.

So even though I wasn't drinking $4 lattes, I was able to save a lot of money on coffee.  For the purposes of approximation, let's say I was spending $4 per day to buy 2 cups of coffee at a coffee shop.  Now I spend 60 cents per day on coffee.  This savings of $3.40 per day adds up to over $1,200 per year!

You might say that I have 60 cents more per day that I could cut on coffee, but I am not interested in cutting back on my one good cup of coffee that I make every day.  I think a great cup of coffee is worth far more than 60 cents, so I will make room for this in my budget and continue to enjoy my coffee every day.

If you have become stuck in a rut of paying way too much for bad coffee, consider learning to make great coffee yourself at home.  Not only will you save money, but you can get much better quality coffee as well.

Copyright © 2015 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Save 50% on Coffee: Get Half Price Coffee All the Time!

Get Half Price Coffee Every Day!

Wouldn't it be great if you could get coffee for half price all the time?  I figured out a way to do just that.

No, the solution does not involve making your coffee at home- I do this already.  It is something else, and it is pretty obvious, really.

How to Get Coffee for Half Price
How to Get Coffee for Half Price
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

This morning, I opened my drawer where I keep my coffee beans this morning to reload my grinder.  I always grind whole beans just before brewing my coffee.  I had an open bag which had more than enough to fill the grinder, and I also noticed I still had a full bag in the drawer as well.

Loading the Grinder with Whole Coffee Beans
Loading the Grinder with Whole Coffee Beans
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I wondered, "Why do I have so many coffee beans left?"  My wife picks up coffee beans for me at the grocery store.  I like to have the freshest possible beans, so I don't keep extra bags around.  But I have an extra bag with a pound of coffee beans today.  Why?

I Had Extra Coffee Beans In My Drawer- Why?
I Had Extra Coffee Beans In My Drawer- Why?
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I was drinking two 16 oz cups of coffee every morning.  I would brew a pot and pour two travel mugs to take with me in the car on work days, or I would drink the pot at home on weekends and holidays.

One time on a business trip when I was away from my coffee-making equipment, I realized that it was not practical to drink that much coffee every day.  I can make coffee myself for about 60 cents per 16 oz serving.  At a coffee shop, it costs over $2 per cup, which adds up to over $4 to meet my daily coffee needs.  Drinking a lot of coffee causes issues beyond the cost- it takes a long time to drink that much coffee, and it drives the need for frequent restroom breaks in the morning.

I decided to cut back to one 16 oz cup of coffee per day.  As I learned on the business trip, cutting coffee too fast can cause headaches!  Over a two week period, I gradually reduced my coffee consumption from two cups per day down to one cup per day.  At first, it seemed like I was missing something by only having one cup of coffee in the morning, but I quickly got used to it and it has become the new normal.

Is it obvious how to save 50% on coffee?  Drink half as much!  At first, this may sound like the punch line of a joke, but this is a reliable way to save 50% on coffee all the time.  My extra bag of coffee beans in the drawer reminded me that I am saving money on coffee beans, which is by far the biggest factor in the cost of making coffee.

If you are curious, here is an article I wrote that goes into a lot of detail on the cost to make coffee.

Get Other Things for 50% Off!

This concept of saving 50% by consuming half as much works on other things besides coffee.  Want to reduce your fast food bill by 50%?  Go out to fast food places half as much!

There are many areas of you budget where this concept will not work well- most people could not cut their utility bill of gasoline bill by 50% because they are already pretty efficient in these cost categories.  But some expenses have a lot of room to cut, and cutting an expense by half is a good goal.  A 50% reduction is significant enough to motivate you to put in some effort to achieve, and half is a simple amount that is easy to track when you have reached 50% savings.

What expenses could you cut by half just by consuming less?

Copyright © 2015 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Cheap Decaf and Low Caffeine Options

Cheap Decaf and Low Caffeine Options

After publishing my second book and installing the copper supply lines myself for a kitchen remodeling project, I now have time to check my mail.  Today, I'll discuss cheap options for hot beverages that don't have too much caffeine.  Here's the question from a reader:

Dr. Penny Pincher,

You mention coffee in some of your articles and indicate the cost, preparation and taste of the coffee. Very interesting articles.

Do you have any suggestions for folks that want to limit their intake of caffeine by drinking decaf coffee or tea???  We don't seem to hear much about decaf these days.

Thank you-

A. Follower


Dear Follower,

Thanks for your question- I'll throw out some of my thoughts on decaf and low caffeine beverages and how to save money.

Cheap Decaf and Low Caffeine Options
Cheap Decaf and Low Caffeine Options
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Drink Less Caffeinated Coffee

A simple way to spend less on coffee and to get less caffeine at the same time is to simply drink less coffee.

A couple years ago, I cut back on my caffeine intake.  I used to drink two 16 oz cups of coffee every morning and cut back to one.  As they say, caffeine is habit-forming and you can get headaches if you suddenly change your caffeine intake.  I gradually reduced my coffee drinking over two weeks a little at a time.  Here is an article that describes in more detail how to lower your caffeine consumption.  I now spend 60 cents per day rather than $1.20 per day on coffee.  This adds up to $219 per year.

Tea is Cheap and has Little Caffeine

Tea is really cheap and has a lot of health benefits from the high tannin and antioxidant content of tea.  Black tea has about 1/3 as much caffeine as coffee and green tea has even less caffeine.  You can even get decaf tea- I sometimes drink decaf Earl Grey tea.  You can get tea bags for around 10 cents each or more for higher quality tea.  You can also get loose leaf tea and use an infuser to steep it- loose leaf tea can have a lot more flavor than tea bags.

Coffee Alternatives

When I was trying out ways to reduce my caffeine intake, I tried out some coffee alternatives that were pretty good.  I found some chickory and carob coffee substitutes at the organic food store.  These are grounds that you brew like coffee and they taste sort of like a blend of coffee and hot chocolate with some nutty flavor.  My favorite was a brand called Teeccino.  It is sort of expensive, but is an interesting change from coffee and has no caffeine.

Here is an article that goes into coffee substitutes in detail.

How to Make Cheap Decaf Coffee

One of the simplest ways to get less caffeine and have a cheap beverage is to drink cheap decaf coffee.  If you make your own coffee at home, you can get cheap ground decaf coffee and make your own for about 11 cents for 16 ounces.  As with regular coffee, you can pay more and get higher quality coffee grounds or even get whole bean decaf coffee and grind it yourself.  Making good coffee from whole beans costs about 60 cents for 16 oz.  This article goes into detail about the cost to make coffee.

Decaf Coffee Costs the Same as Regular Coffee
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

It is hard to beat drinking coffee, but too much of a good thing is still too much.  Hopefully the ideas here can help you enjoy hot beverages without spending too much or getting too much caffeine.


Copyright © 2014 Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Best Energy Drink

What is the Best Energy Drink?

Energy drinks have grown in popularity in the past few years.  Energy drink have lots of caffeine, sugar, and even vitamins, nutrients, and minerals to perk you up.  Some people drink energy drinks to get an afternoon lift to get through the day.  Some people drink energy drinks to get rolling for a night out.

What is the best energy drink?  People have different preferences for flavor, and energy drinks don't seem to make claims about tasting great anyway.  It seems that the most important features of energy drinks are:

  • Caffeine Content
  • Calories
  • Cost

Rockstar and Starbucks Energy Drinks
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Today we'll consider these factors to select the best energy drink.  We'll check popular energy drinks including 5 Hour Energy, Rockstar, Monster, Red Bull, Amp, and NOS.

How Much Caffeine is in Energy Drinks?

Before energy drinks were popular, people would drink a Mountain Dew for the same effect.  Mountain Dew has 54mg of caffeine in a 12 oz can.  How much caffeine is in energy drinks?

Energy Drink Caffeine Content Table
Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Table: Energy Drink Caffeine Content

Energy Drink
Caffeine Content (mg)
5 Hour Energy 215
Rockstar Energy Shot 230
Monster Energy 90
Red Bull 85
Amp 70
NOS 225

The tables above show the caffeine content of popular energy drinks.  All of these energy drinks have a lot more caffeine than a can of Mountain Dew.  NOS, 5 Hour Energy, and Rockstar are loaded with caffeine with over 200mg per container.  Monster, Red Bull, and Amp have under 100mg of caffeine per container.  If I were drinking an energy drink at night, I would choose one with less caffeine in order to interfere less with sleeping.

RedBull Energy Drink is available in at least four sizes!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

How Many Calories are in Energy Drinks?

Some energy drinks contain calories to provide energy, while others have almost no calories.  If you drink energy drinks a lot, calories are a concern.

Energy Drink Calorie Content Table
Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Table: Energy Drink Calorie Content Table
Energy Drink Calories
5 Hour Energy 4
Rockstar Energy Shot 10
Monster Energy 100
Red Bull 110
Amp 110
NOS 220

As you can see in the tables above, 5 Hour Energy and Rockstar Energy Shot have almost no calories.  The other drinks on the list have about the same amount of calories as a soda pop like Mountain Dew.

How Much Do Energy Drinks Cost?

You can buy a 16 oz bottle of Mountain Dew for about $1.50.  How does the cost of energy drinks compare to Mountain Dew?

Energy Drink Cost Table
Source: Dr. Penny Pincher
Table: Energy Drink Cost Table
Energy Drink Cost
5 Hour Energy $2.00
Rockstar Energy Shot $2.00
Monster Energy $1.00
Red Bull $1.75
Amp $1.00
NOS $2.50

The cost of energy drinks is a bit more than a bottle of soda pop.  Amp and Monster Energy are the lowest cost among these energy drinks at $1.00 per container.  NOS weighs in as the most expensive in the group at $2.50.

The Best Energy Drink Is...

The best energy drink should have a lot of caffeine, not have many calories, and should not cost very much.  I'm going to go old school for my selection of best energy drink- really old school.

Coffee is the original energy drink and has been enjoyed for over a thousand years.  Coffee compares favorably to modern energy drinks in terms of caffeine content, calories, and cost.

Caffeine Content: A 16 oz cup of coffee shop coffee has about 330mg of caffeine- more than any of the popular energy drinks in our comparison group.  If you want less caffeine, you can use ground coffee rather than grinding your own beans.  You can also mix decaf grounds with regular grounds to adjust the caffeine content to almost any level of caffeine that you desire.

Calories: Coffee naturally has almost zero calories.  If you don't like your coffee black, you can add simple things like sugar, honey, and milk that add 50 to 100 calories to a cup of coffee.  If you don't want to add any calories, you can use artificial sweeteners to create a zero calorie energy drink.  If you don't want a hot drink, you can drink an iced coffee.

Cost: You can make your own 'coffee shop' quality coffee at home for only 60 cents per 16 ounces.  This is less expensive than any of the energy drinks in our group.  If you want, you can make coffee for even cheaper if you buy less expensive coffee grounds.

Coffee wins as best energy drink based on caffeine content, calories, and cost.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy

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