By Mary Gulino
The average millennial spends around $2,000 a year on coffee. When I found this out, I was floored! That’s a lot of money. And I, a frequent coffee drinker, was surely in the red even more than that, as I sometimes shell out for two coffees in one day.
That’s why I created for myself a challenge designed to put those dollars back into my savings: I would go a whole year making coffee at home, not once indulging in any café-made coffee drinks. And wow, did this experiment work! Of course, most of these savings came from the fact that I locked myself indoors in the name of thriftiness and didn’t leave the house once.
I didn’t just save on coffee—I also saved on food, entertainment, gas, shopping, a gym membership, and literally any miscellaneous expense that a normal human might have. Because I became a hermit!
You’re probably asking why I remained housebound for the year, when this wasn’t a necessary condition of the experiment. That’s a fair point, but for me, it was the only way to keep my reckless coffee spending at bay. Imagine—really imagine—abstaining from cafes for an entire revolution around the sun. What the hell is a person supposed to do in a world like that? Where does one even go? How does one justify such an existence?
When you get to my level of dependency, you don’t view coffee as an indulgence. It’s a lifeblood. Now that good coffee was off the table, I had no recourse but to wait out the year in a lonely stupor, armed simply with bland supermarket grounds and a dingy Mr. Coffee, praying for the misery to subside.
By year’s end, my extreme behavior caused me to lose all of my friendships and succumb to an isolation-induced depression. But I also ended up saving more than $14,000! Moving forward, the cost of repairing my psyche from a year of self-punishment will likely total more than $14,000, but if you don’t take that into account, I am a very rich girl indeed!
Like any budgeting exercise, this was such an eye-opening experience that forced me to become cognizant of my habits. For instance, I no longer reflexively whip out my credit card when I pass a Starbucks. Nor do I take for granted how beautiful sunlight is anymore. After a year without it, I had honestly forgotten what it means to be human!