“For the price of a latte…” is a bullshit metric

Now that I’m officially wearing all of the hats, I’m re-learning my “price sense” for the cost of everyday items.

(I make a lot more than the median, but my income currently also fully or partially supports 10 people, including substantial healthcare costs. So I’m more sensitive to budgeting concerns than others in my bracket.)

I bought a latte today, for the first time in a couple of weeks, from our local coffee institution. With sales tax, it cost about $5.

It brought to mind a phrase I see a lot in marketing, especially in products marketed to software developers:

For the price of a latte…

You know what? The price of a latte is a nontrivial amount of money.

$5 is:

  • Close to a week’s worth of diapers.
  • A child’s lunch when eating out.
  • A decent sized bag of potatoes, enough to form the bulk of several family meals.
  • A 16″ take-and-bake pizza at Aldi.

I’ve heard that some people buy a latte a day. That’s $150/month. That’s a car payment. Or a health insurance premium for one (well, if you’re lucky…).

Normal people can’t afford “the price of a latte”.


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  1. You’ll find many more ways to stretch your budget more resourcefully as you go along. It’s amazing what you can live without when you have to. I can help with that, from some experience! 😉

  2. Yeah.. Latte’s are expensive. I consider even getting straight giant sized (20oz) black coffee for $2.50 to be a luxury that I can now afford to do occasionally this year (since I’m making $10k more than ever before)–but it still goes against my inner German who says.. “For the price of three of these you, can make 50 cups of espresso in your Mokka pot.. What the fuck?”

    I’m a natural budgeter.. it’s something innate–but it also doesn’t hurt that we were pretty poor when I was a kid–so I knew about penny-pinching–and that I was a poor grad student helping to raise three kids with my partner who never got to get any formal education (in a city full of that… ) and thus we lived on food stamps for many years because we were beneath the poverty level.

    You will make it. And you know this deep down… But the trials are still unpleasant, I know.

    Much love!

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