I just went out and bought an extra large double double and a cheese croissant. I am nursing it as I write this and it tastes like nostalgia sprinkled with heaven. More specifically, it tastes of finality, like drinking and gorging on New Years Eve before a health kick, or my eating my Last Meal (I’m not overdramatic at all).

Coffee, more specifically Tim Hortons and Second Cup coffee, is my Achilles heel. About three to four times a week, I’ll go on a fifteen minute walk to the Second Cup, about 1.2km away from my office. I’ll get a medium flavoured coffee ($2.05, or $1.85 if I bring my travel mug). I can justify it because it gives me a mental break out of the office, and on average costs a meagre $2. Nothing, right?

Except sometimes I get a cookie if I’m hungry. Or about once a month, I’ll go to Starbucks instead and wind up getting a hot chocolate and lemon poppyseed loaf ($6.50).

Using my debt and credit card alone, over the past 12 months I have spent $200 on coffee shops. Unfortunately, this only represents what must be less than half of my expenditures, since Mint doesn’t always classify the purchases correctly, and I often use cash. So let’s just say, conservatively, that I spend $500 a year on coffee shops. That would almost cover the entire cost of one course through Athabasca.

They just finished construction on a Tim Hortons that's a four minute walk from my house. Curse you, Timmy's!!!!

This has been one money leeching habit that I have been reluctant to eliminate. In the fall, when money was super tight, I bought a $7 container of instant coffee to keep at the office, which lasted me for about 3.5 weeks. I’m not that fussy, so I didn’t mind. But I missed the smell of the coffee shop, the experience of getting a lovely fresh cup of coffee, and the inherent mental break from the office. Caffeine also provides relief from my crippling migraines and barometric pressure headaches. This past week, I was able to accurately predict each and every snowfall within hours, purely through my headaches (side note: lamest superpower ever. I’m like Jubilee in the X-Men…completely useless).

I have done a solid job of eliminating unnecessary expenses.  I pack my lunch to go to work. I don’t have cable. My gym membership has been stripped down to the bare bones, so I only pay $18 biweekly (I forgo towel service and the use of other clubs, saving me $7/biweekly). My biggest expense in December was gas for my car, since I travelled home and halfway to Montreal. I also paid $100 for a New Years return trip to Montreal (Frenchie was kind enough to cover 75% of the costs. I am such a lucky girl.)

So is a sacrifice of my coffee really going to make a difference in the long term? Well, yes. Not a huge difference, but over the course of a year/lifetime, it’ll add up. But more importantly, what I need right now is a mental acknowledgement that I am trying to achieve a goal (my education), which will require some sacrifices.

Am I kicking the habit to the curb permanently? Probably not. But from now until the end of January, I will no longer be buying coffee or any kind of hot beverage (unless it’s from the grocery store). The one concession that I will allow is a post-skating indulgence, no more than $2. I’m planning on attending several free skating events in January, and it’s always so lovely to unwind with a hot beverage.

I know. First world problems.  Look at me, such a martyr, giving up on buying coffee for a month. But believe me, this will be a challenge for me. I have leaned on coffee trips as a crutch in the past. A small luxury in a sea of frugality. It’s my cheat.  More than anything, this will be an exercise in mental mindset.

Mmmm, double double. I am going to miss you SO much.

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9 Responses to “My Achilles Heel – the Latte factor”

  1. Daisy says:

    There is definitely something special about Tim Hortons coffee. I think they might put crack in it.

    I used to work in a mall with a Tim Hortons, Yogen fruz and Starbucks. I never had ANY money. Plus they had a great sushi express place. The only way I’d be able to stop myself from buying anything is if I purposely left my wallet at home, and just brought my ID (just in case).

  2. Bridget says:

    I forgive my coffee spending — or at least I’ve learned to make peace with it. I hate Tim Horton’s, but I’m a regular at Starbucks (there’s FOUR on the UofA campus now! I don’t even have to go outside to get my fix) and I also adore local Edmonton favourites like Transcend on a regular basis.

    I try to deal with it by loading up my Starbucks card with $25/mo. When it runs out, I don’t go out anymore — but consequently, I’ve gotten used to the limit and it’s no become habit so it doesn’t feel constraining. I usually wind up with about 2 lattes and then 8 or 9 coffees over the course of a month. It doesn’t sound like much, but it means I’m treating myself 3 days out of the 5 day work week!

    I thought about giving it up entirely (even nixing my coffee habit at home so I didn’t have to buy beans! another ~$15/mo expense) and then using the extra cash to attack the student loans, but I feel like it’s not worth the price of being so miserable (I would be really, really miserable)

  3. Penny says:

    I have Achilles heel too, but in both feet – the right Starbucks, the left Sephora. I’m hoping to limit the Starbucks and cutting back (I’m trying out the card method like Bridget above) on Sephora completely, until my products run out. PS. I’m back to blogging!

  4. jolie says:

    There is something intoxicating about the smell of those store brews that makes me want one as soon as I smell it. I used to go most mornings to Timmys. My habit was broken, but more from the ridiculous lines that were both inside and the drive thru. I just didn’t have 20 to 30 min to wait to get my fix.

  5. Country Girl says:

    Good for you for taking on big coffee ;). I am a tea drinker, so Tim’s and Starbucks doesn’t hold any sway over me. I like that you have allowed yourself a hot beverage after skating. The only thing that would make it better would be beaver tails.

  6. HEY! Jubilee has a COOL power. She just never really learned to use it! I can’t give up coffee or tea so I’ve learned to budget for it. I give myself a card with X amount of money in it for the month. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. I wait til next month.

  7. As others above have done, I decided to load a Starbucks card with $100 once per month. If the card runs out in a particular month, I’m done until the next month. So far I’ve done pretty well…I loaded the card with $100 around the middle of December and haven’t re-loaded it yet.

    Like you, I value the short mental break that a “Starbucks run” gives me. Frequently the short walk and fresh air outside allows me to clear my mind such that I solve a problem that might be bugging me. It’s valuable.

    Loading the Starbucks card has allowed me to make peace with latte spending.

  8. Melissa says:

    You know what, Money Rabbit? I’m just going to go ahead and say it: I don’t think spending $500 a year on coffee is a big deal. Like, at ALL. That’s $40 a month. Really, not a big deal. Especially since it’s a small indulgence, and it gives you a nice break in the day.

    I, too, had coffee as my big indulgence. In my poorer days, I’d allow myself three regular coffees or two americanos or one latte per week (about $5 per week, then), which I figured was reasonable. Though, honestly, once I was living less on the edge, sometimes I’d go to Tim’s four or five times a week. It was just a nice break from work. For a while, my coworker and I would walk to Tim Horton’s every day for a coffee and maybe a cookie. And even though it was an “unnecessary luxury,” it was something I genuinely looked forward to, and that I miss now that we’ve both moved on to different jobs.

    When I was in university, there was a Tim Horton’s 100 feet from our lounge/lab (where we spend 95% of our time) and we didn’t even have to go outside to get there. I’m kind of afraid to think of the amount I spent there over four years!

    I say, don’t be so hard on yourself!

    • Money Rabbit says:

      I agree, it’s totally a hardass approach and a little unnecessary. BUT it’s moreso for the mental discipline. I’m trying to break myself of the habit of feeling like I NEED to spend money. Lately I’ve been hungering for bigger things … a bedframe to get my mattress off the floor, accent chairs, a better bike. The point of this exercise (and it’s only an exercise) is to teach my brain to resist temptation, however small it is.

      But DEAR GOD do I miss my coffee. I agree it’s an insignificant amount. But the amount of mental discipline it takes to stave off that tiny indulgence is incredible. I can hardly wait until this challenge is over.

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