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Survey: Coffee fix costs $1,000 a year

By now we can all recite the "latte" factor by heart: Skip that $4.00 Starbucks drink and save $20 a week or $1,000 a year and be closer to retiring a millionaire!

For the last decade finance reporters (including me) have drawn up the math, and while the numbers are quite compelling, we've largely stuck to our daily java fix. According to a new survey by Accounting Principals, more than half of American workers buy coffee regularly while at work and spend an average $1,000 a year on their cravings. Young adults (aged 18 to 34) do so more than older workers (aged 45 and up) and men spend more on coffee than women.

This isn't exactly earth-shattering news. I'll be the first to admit that the coffee craze is hard to kick. Coffee isn't just a beverage; it's an experience that takes you to a happy place (I call it heaven) where you receive a jolt of much-needed energy to then drive and attend work with acuity (at least until 4 p.m., at which point you may need to make a second run). And if there's one thing money can buy that equals happiness, it's an "experience," as one study recently proved. Sure, you can make your own coffee at home (and save 90%), but it's not as fun as waiting in line at Starbucks. (I jest, but FYI: Dunkin' is always less crowded and makes a mean skim latte.)

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It's also difficult to break the habit when so many restaurants and fast-food joints are brewing up a coffee storm, with chains adding various coffee varieties to their menus and touting their selection of hot beverages more aggressively. Starbucks, for example, just began promoting its Blonde Roast for those who enjoy a lighter blend.

McDonald's has also been accelerating the growth of its McCafe bistros, which come equipped with free Wi-Fi. The fast-food giant recently reported an 11% rise in fourth quarter net income, thanks partly to demand for its high-margin premium coffee.

And Taco Bell is planning to expand into the breakfast biz. It's been testing various morning menus in some of its California locations the past several years, joining forces with none other than Seattle's Best coffee. The chain now plans to roll out more of the same menu in ten western states this week.

From the looks of it, our latte obsession is here to stay. The good news is there are still many other "factors" that - when eliminated - can save us money - much more money. For example, bottled water, take-out, cable and, my personal favorite: Bank fees.