Shut Up About My Latte!


It’s hard to take pleasure in something you feel like you have to defend. When is a latte no longer a spending leak!?

I love a good latte.

It’s truly one of my little pleasures in life, which is why I get defensive when personal finance types quickly target lattes as a spending leak. Over and over I’ve heard,

“You could save $400 or $800 or $1500 a year by cutting out that latte habit and brewing coffee at home instead.”

Why not target drive-thru meals, music downloads or other things I don’t love?

Demonizing someone else’s pleasure isn’t the answer here. Addressing spending leaks is.

Spending leaks are the little things we spend our money on, that by themselves don’t seem like much but can add up over time.

And add up it does.

A review of credit card statements revealed that I spent $428 on lattes last year. That’s two a week at my favorite coffee shop where they know my name and my seasonal preference.

Cue the excuses: It’s better than going to happy hour twice a week. I’m supporting a local business. Do you know how many times I wanted to have one and didn’t?

It’s hard to take pleasure in something that you feel like you have to defend.

When is a latte no longer a spending leak?

When it’s planned. Facing the $428 I had to decide if I was OK with that, and if so, how does that fit into our budget? I didn’t want to give up the lattes, but I didn’t want espresso drinks to be a source of conflict either. When I talked to my husband about it, he wasn’t resentful – he gets that he has his spending leaks too. We decided we would budget for things like lattes in our entertainment/dining out budget. His occasional lunches out are taken from that bucket too, so it makes sense. And, it’s regular spending, making it easy to plan for.

We considered other options:

  • We each start the week with $20 in cash for incidental expenses.
  • My lattes could come out of that money (as could his lunches).
  • I could ask for gift cards to the coffee shop for my birthday and Christmas to cover me for a few months out of the year.
  • I could perfect my own barista techniques at home.
  • I could get a part-time job to cover my latte spending.

So far, the entertainment budget approach is working for us. I might be a bit less likely to suggest dinner out, but that’s a trade-off I’m happy to make.

Spending leak? Not anymore. It’s planned.

I’ll have a 16oz. pumpkin spice latte, guilt free, please. Hold the judgment – and, yes, I’ll have it with whip!

Written by Jen Behrens

This blog post is from the Author's perspective and doesn't speak for brightpeak financial. Contact brightpeak if you want to know more about brightpeak products, and keep in mind that they are not available in all states and there are some limitations (some exclusions and restrictions may apply).

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