When people think of Millenials (and Gen Z-ers), certain food and drink associations come to mind: avocado toast, craft beer, and fancy coffee.
People like to make a big deal about how much money the younger generations spend on these and similar items. Some claim these expenses are the reason so many young people are behind on their retirement savings.
I like to think that our generation has simply identified that if you’re going to work hard, then the little joys in life need to be really worth your time.
What’s the use of using caffeine to perk up if its delivery system is gross? Why spend money on alcohol if you aren’t drinking something interesting and different? Why eat the same boring breakfast every day when something as delicious as avocado toast is available?
I recently had an experience that really highlighted the fact that just because you’re a little picky about what you like, it doesn’t mean you have to feel like you’re wasting money. In fact, sticking to your preferences can sometimes save you cash.
Bouge It Up or Nah?
“Bougie” habits are generally NOT considered budget-friendly or financially savvy. They include buying expensive clothes and accessories, buying “fancy” food, and embracing an overall “treat yo’self” attitude.
As a result, it’s popular, and easy, to frown on “bougie” habits as poor choices that should be given up if you ever want to retire or succeed in life. (See: avocado toast).
Here’s the thing though: these “poor choices” are fun; they give people joy; and they are sometimes overall better choices than the frugal version. Beans and rice might be cheap, but a balanced diet with lots of veggies is way better for you in the long run.
I believe there’s nothing wrong with making a few bougie choices in life. The problem comes when every choice you make falls into that category.
Paula Pant over at AffordAnything.com says it best: “You can afford anything, but not everything.”
Something I’ve come to realize, though, is that some habits that people might label as bougie can actually pay off in the long run by saving you money.
Our Love Affair with Coffee
My husband and I have morphed into admitted coffee snobs over the time we’ve been together. When my roommates and I made coffee in college, I used to use tons of sweetened creamer because the coffee just never tasted that good. I loved getting coffee at a shop because it always tasted so much better. As a result, I definitely spent too much money on delicious coffee-shop concoctions.
Then I had good, fresh, home-ground coffee.
Turns out, putting in the effort to grind your beans and make your coffee fresh is actually worth it. Now, I love coffee and usually drink my morning coffee black because it’s so smooth and actually tastes good.
Lots of people have come to this conclusion over the last decade, and it’s easier than ever to find fresh, often locally-roasted coffee at farmer’s markets, local cafes, and even grocery stores.
The scary thing about making the leap to high-quality coffee is that it comes at a high-quality price. A pound of whole beans can cost anywhere from $11 to $20 depending on the type. Considering you also probably have to buy a grinder, plus the gear to actually make your coffee, you’d think that suffering through cheap coffee is actually the better choice.
The problem is, if you don’t actually like the coffee you make at home, you don’t have any incentive to make it. It’s way more pleasant to stop by Starbucks, drop $5 to have someone else make your coffee exactly the way you want it, and have the satisfaction of that warm travel coffee mug to hold as you go about your day. (Does anyone else LOVE the feeling of carrying a travel coffee cup?? It’s so cozy-feeling!)
So, now you’ve spent $3-7 on a bag of pre-ground, cheap coffee and a drip machine you rarely use, plus you’re dropping $5 several times a week on the stuff you ACTUALLY want but want to believe you don’t need.
If you buy a $5 drink three times a week, that’s $15, or the cost of an extra-fancy bag of coffee. Those bags usually last more than a week, at least for us, so it’s already cheaper to buy the fancy stuff than to grab chain-brand drinks. Plus, every time you make a pot at home, whether it’s a drip machine, a french press, or other method, you’ll probably be making more than one serving, so you get more coffee at the same price as ordering out.
I recently got to re-learn this lesson first-hand.
For the past five years or so, we’ve been using a drip coffee machine that was highly recommended by The Wirecutter. It’s the red version of a Bodum-brand machine. I love it and it’s worked perfectly since we bought it.
P.S. Thermal carafes are AMAZING. The coffee stays hot for hours after brewing, which is great for those who like to have a couple cups over the course of the morning.
The one gripe I have is that part of the basket for the grounds is plastic, and we’ve seen some stress cracks form over time from constant use and cleaning. Last week, I bumped this basket off the shelf where it had been drying and the handle snapped off, taking a chunk of the basket with it.
This one missing piece rendered the whole machine useless.
My husband immediately got online to look for a replacement, but Bodum has stopped making that particular machine and didn’t have any individual parts to send us. Ebay, Amazon, and the rest of the internet didn’t either.
Would we have to buy a whole new machine because of one crappy plastic piece!?
We decided to make a last-ditch effort to fix it, so Joe bought some food-safe sealant and patched the basket up.
Today, we crossed our fingers and made our first pot of coffee in over a week, and it worked perfectly. We’ve hopefully bought ourselves at least another year of use out of our Bodum my spending a little time and money to patch it up.
Great, yay us, but why bother telling you this story?
During the days our coffee maker was out of commission, I bought coffee a lot more than I do during a normal week.
I’d make an Aeropress cup in the morning, but I usually take coffee to work, and I just couldn’t be bothered to go through the steps to make a small Aeropress cup again before I left. Cue a stop at Dunkin or Starbucks.
Not only were these stops more costly, but I don’t particularly like either Dunkin or Starbucks coffee black, so they also cost me more in calorie intake!
In all, we spent about $16 for less than a week of coffee out for the two of us.
If I needed reminding that our $100 coffee machine and $30 grinder were worth buying, then this week was that reminder. Our “bougie” love for fresh coffee saves us probably $60-70 a month.
If you’re trying to trim your expenses, but you’re a fellow caffeine fiend, take a second look at upping your game and joining us “fancy coffee people” on the delicious, home-ground, “bougie” side.