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Ask My Two Dollars – I Love Iced Lattes, Why Can’t I Buy Them?

I got this question from a reader the other day: “I always see a lot of personal finance advice sites tell people to give up their daily lattes in order to save money. If I really love iced lattes and they help me through my day; does it really make that much of a difference in my bottom line?”

The quick and easy answer is “Yes, of course it does”. A Starbucks Iced Latte costs about $3.50 and if you are getting one every day of the work week (5 days a week), that adds up to $70 every month just for a cup of milk and espresso. To take it even further, you can look at it over time…$70 X 12 months X 5 years = $4,200. That is a healthy hunk of change for almost everyone, considering that it is a nice down payment on a car after a few years. But what if you really need that latte and consider it a necessary evil to help you get through your day?

Try making them yourself.

To make an iced latte, you need 3 things; ice, milk and espresso. Ice is free, so we can take that one right out of the equation. Milk is about $4.00 per gallon the last time I even looked at it; we drink soy milk so I don’t know the exact price. But a gallon of milk would last quite some time if you were just making lattes every day with it. Add in the price of a bag of espresso beans at $9.00, and you probably have enough supplies to make at least 10 lattes for $13, or $1.30 per latte. I could be a little off on my numbers here, but I am close. That is a savings of $2.20 per latte, which by using the same math as above, saves you about $2,640 over 5 years. Not bad, really.

A latte is such a simple drink that you can make them at home and they will taste almost exactly the same as the ones at the store and cost you so much less. Step one, make some espresso. If you don’t have an espresso maker, there are very inexpensive ones available that work fine, like this one at Target. Ours works great and was not that much money. It takes about 3 or 4 minutes to make 2 espresso shots. While that is brewing, fill up your travel mug (you are going to work, right?) halfway with milk. By now, the espresso shots are ready, so dump them in your mug. Fill the rest of the space up with ice and stir. There you go, a homemade latte that costs at least $2.20 less than the one at Starbucks. Plus, you are saving the environment from one more plastic cup to deal with, and you can choose the type of beans and milk that you want to use.

I don’t see a problem with someone spending money on lattes if that is their thing, but making them at home gives you much more control over what you are drinking and can save you a ton of cash. Try it out for a week or two and see how easy it is. In fact, if you do it, pocket the money you would have spent every day and buy yourself something nice as a reward…but be sure to start putting that extra money somewhere more important than into your stomach!


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Comments (15)

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  1. Spending wisely is all about priorities. How about saving on something else that others might consider a necessity, like canceling cable?

  2. Jonathan Trenn says:

    The point here isn’t about lattes or cable, it is taking a look at one’s spending habits, one’s schedule, and one’s desire for a quick dash of happiness.

    The battle we wage then is our ability to be marketed to + our desire for a certain ‘experience’ vs. spending wisely to save over time.

  3. david says:

    Absolutely….the post was for those who can’t seem to give up the lattes. The best way to save money is to give them up completely, of course!

  4. The comment made by the reader could be made about everything, not just food. Indeed, it’s the method of retaining quality food, travel, etc. but saving money in the process. Great post mate, cheers.

  5. david says:

    Though people want to save money, you still have to live. Giving up everything in the name of the almighty dollar leads to a pretty boring life!

  6. Elaine says:

    Just this week I switched from Starbucks iced soy lattes to my own iced cafe au laits at home. (Difference? The milk isn’t steamed.)

    Tastes great, to me! You just need to remember to keep your coffee in the freezer so it’s always fresh.

    I also saved on equipment by using an Ikea french press (less than $5, I think) rather than a coffee maker or espresso machine.

  7. Moneymonk says:

    You are taking away her/his happiness factor. If that is what she/he likes—fine.

    Most people problem lies in their overhead, house, car. Not lattes.

    If she is not deep in debt and contribute to her retirement accts. I do not see the big deal.

    You only sacrifice like that when you are deep in debt. If he/she is not–enjoy the latte!

  8. marie says:

    Speaking of “latte”, I just found this neat calculator for figuring out how much you could save in X years x how much you save by not taking that latte.

    Fun to use.

    http://www.finishrich.com/free_resources/lattecalculator.php

  9. docah says:

    It’s fine to enjoy those things once in a while, maybe even once a week. In my world, you only get things like that when you do something good, productive and in line with your goals. If you’re doing it every day I really sincerely doubt you are “enjoying” it. It’s an addiction, habit, or something you just take for granted.

  10. […] 10. Kill the coffee… Or make it yourself. You can even learn to make your own iced lattes. […]

  11. Valerie says:

    If you like flavored lattes, many flavors of syrup are available (regular and sugar-free) for about $7 for a bottle and will last well over a month. I get mine at world market. You can also buy the syrups from Starbucks for about $12 (last I checked) if you prefer their brand. Another tip is to freeze leftover coffee in an ice cube tray to make iced coffee/lattes, without the ice watering the drink down–just add one or two cubes with the rest of the ice.

  12. david says:

    Good tip, thanks Valerie!

  13. […] Ask My Two Dollars – I Love Iced Lattes, Why Can’t I Buy Them? I got this question from a reader the other day: “I always see a lot of personal finance advice sites tell people to give up their daily lattes in order to save money. If I really love iced lattes and they help me through my day; does it really make…… […]

  14. […] Ask My Two Dollars – I Love Iced Lattes, Why Can’t I Buy Them? I got this question from a reader the other day: “I always see a lot of personal finance advice sites tell people to give up their daily lattes in order to save money. If I really love iced lattes and they help me through my day; does it really make…… Online Stores […]

  15. […] 10. Kill the coffee… Or make it yourself. You can even learn to make your own iced lattes. […]

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