☕ Lattes & avocado toast: An actual concern?
A critical look at the advice to avoid lattes and avocado toast in order to stabilize your financial life. Plus, an exciting announcement!
“Do I really need to be stressed about lattes and avocado toast?”
(But before we get to my answer…)
Here’s a money workbook that won’t shame you for wanting lattes and avocado toast!
Where you can preorder
Amazon • Bookshop.org • Barnes & Nobles • Powell’s Indie Bound • Hudson Booksellers • Books-A-Million • Your local bookstore • The library •
You can submit a title request to your local library to order the Broke Millennial Workbook. Here are examples of how you can do that in New York, Seattle, Chicago, Charleston, Austin, San Jose, Los Angeles, Jacksonville or just Google your city library + title request.)
Why preorders matter
Preorders say to bookstores: “Hey, people want this!” This early attention for the workbook helps ensure it has a nationwide roll out and is available on bookshelves all around the country. It also impacts best seller lists and rankings on bookseller websites. I need you to help guarantee the Broke Millennial Workbook is a smashing success!
My goal: 1,500 preorders by May 2, 2023.
So, if you plan to buy the book anyway, why not preorder?!
As a thank you for preordering the Broke Millennial Workbook, I’ve got some goodies for you!
Preorder bonus offers
Limited Edition Offers Exclusively for Newsletter Subscribers
First 25 people to send me proof of preordering can claim a signed bookplate to put in your copy of the Broke Millennial Workbook so it’s an autographed copy. (Only available for the US and Canadian residents due to mailing costs)
First 150 people who preorder will be submitted into a lottery to win a 30-minute chat with me! 3 winners will be chosen. We can talk about whatever money questions are on your mind. ($500 value)
First 500 people who preorder will be submitted into a lottery to be upgraded to a paid subscriber* for a year and get the Friday newsletter and access to all archives. 5 winners will be chosen. ($60 value) *Only available to currently free subscribers. Current paid subscribers will get your own special bonus announced in a future newsletter.
How to claim your bonus
Send proof of your preorder to firstname.lastname@example.org. The lottery will be on a first come, first serve basis so act ASAP. I will do the drawing for winners on May 10, 2023 – the day after the book publishes and preorders are confirmed.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming!
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“Do I really need to be stressed about lattes and avocado toast?”
If you somehow have managed to consume personal finance content without ever hearing about the latte factor or avocado toast, then wow, I’m deeply impressed. The latte factor was popularized by personal finance writer David Bach who argues that unconscious spending on small purchases (like a latte) can end up costing you a huge sum in the long run. Later on, an Australian millionaire and real estate mogul made a comment to the press about millennials being unable to buy a home because they wasted money on avocado toast, that’s how a delicious but overpriced, brunch item ended up being a symbol of a generation.
Bach’s original point with the latte factor is that the “huge sum” you’re blowing is about the upside if you invested that money instead.
Let’s say you spend $6 a day on a latte and do that five days a week. That’s going to be $30 a week, which is $120 a month. But what if you invested that $120 a month and did that monthly for 30 years and got a 7% return on your investment?! You’d have over $136,000! Just spending $120 a month for 30 years would be $43,200 in lattes.
The crux of the argument is the modernization of a quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.”
Here’s the bad news: It’s not wrong.
Here’s the good news: We’ve vilified lattes and avocado toast (really insert anything fun that people often perceive as frivolous), but the true villain is actually mindless consumption.
I love lattes.
This isn’t a metaphor. Milk is my favorite beverage and combining its frothy-version with a jolt of caffeine is a little slice of heaven to me. Walking Tasker (my dog) to a local coffee shop for a little midday pick-me-up was historically a highlight of my day. I’d get some fresh air – well, as fresh as one gets in New York City – and go have a little human interaction during my work-from-home-but-rarely-talking-to-humans-even-on-a-Zoom-call day.
So, what did I do? I budgeted for lattes. No joke. I knew it was something that brought me a small pleasure, so I would set aside money each month to indulge. That means it’s not mindless consumption.
In the last few months though, a latte would usually cost $7 (after tipping the barista, even though I drink regular whole milk) and maybe even $8.50 if it was a seasonal specialty drink. Despite a true love of this beverage, getting close to spending $100 a month if I got three a week felt unsettling. The cost for the value just wasn’t quite in alignment anymore – except for the occasional trip to the dog cafe where Tasker can come in and sit with me!
Instead of nixing lattes entirely, I invested in a way to make them myself. Peach had been asking for an espresso machine for years and I finally capitulated and got him a compromise: a Nespresso machine. Within three months, that machine and the espresso pods will have paid for themselves in terms of reducing the frequency of my trips to coffee shops. I still go sometimes, especially for a specialty beverage I can’t make myself. The smoked salted caramel latte at Black Press on the Upper West Side is simply delicious.
Do I invest the money that I otherwise would’ve been spending on lattes? No, I don’t, partly because saving and investing for my big goals are already part of my monthly budget. I reallocated my latte spending to other items in my monthly budget – like my gym membership or getting a facial. These are expenses that are currently in alignment with personal goals (yes, it’s okay to have beauty-centered goals).
A critical part of feeling in control of your money is to routinely evaluate how you’re spending and assess if it’s helping you achieve your goals. These goals will and should change overtime. It’s okay if some of your monthly expenditures are perceived as indulgent or frivolous to other people. What matters is that you value them and you see it as a good way to spend your money – and that you assess if they’re still in alignment from time-to-time.
Oh, and I will get a bit of a traditional personal finance expert here and humbly request that you do avoid going into debt in the pursuit of non-essentials, even if it is something you value.
Now go preorder the Broke Millennial Workbook (if it’s in your budget — but I bet it ends up paying for itself!)
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Totally agree on avoiding the mindless spending! It's important to budget for treating yourself. The avocado toast soundbyte forever gets on my nerves. The investment example still kinda proves the point of why millennials really can't buy houses-- even if you put away your latte and avocado toast money AND your investments did well (which is a big IF), you'd have to wait 30 years to have a solid downpayment. Not to mention you'd have to hope that you didn't run into any financial trouble in the interim that required you to sell any investments (eg medical issue, extended job loss, caring for a family member). And of course inflation would erase a lot of that purchasing power at the end of 30 years anyway.
And, congratulations on the new book launch!!!