Buy this: Saeco Aroma ($229)
Ax this: Three venti-sized lattes a week
Start saving in: About 4 months
Bonus: You'll be the new office hero
Money-saving experts focus on the financial waste of the daily latte habit more than perhaps any other. With good reason: Invest that $4 a day for 30 years and if you earn 8 percent you'd have saved $190,453. But it's hard to say no to the foamy, caffeinated goodness of a fancy drink in return for a reward that's three decades off. When trying to change a habit like this, it's essential to understand why you do it in the first place, says Syble Solomon, a financial behavior expert and founder of Money Habitudes, a card game designed to help identify money attitudes and habits. "If you're really doing it for a social break, or to get out of your office, you likely won't have much success if you try just stopping," she says.
But you may be able to substitute a new ritual that serves a similar purpose. Spring for a nice espresso machine to keep in your office, and enlist your afternoon coffee crew to help you stay stocked in coffee and milk. You'll be able to brew your afternoon pick-me-ups for less than 50 cents. If getting fresh air is an important part of the ritual, pour the coffee in a travel mug and head outside. It will work if your colleagues are willing to buy-in, says Solomon. If not, you can still save money by seeing your friends two days a week at the coffee shop and brewing your own the rest of the time.