The True Cost of a Pumpkin Spice Latte

It’s that time of year again…

You might be thinking I’m talking about back-to-school or fantasy football, or perhaps you’re thinking Halloween is right around the corner. But alas, you’d be wrong. What I’m talking about is the start of something awesome (terrible?). I’m talking about the return of Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

The seasonal drink from Starbucks launches this month. Since then, people have been losing their minds.

But how much is that pumpkin spice latte really costing you?

Let’s look at the numbers.

Since NO ONE can just drink a Tall, and Ventis are for gluttons, I’m going to use the price of a Grande PSL to do my calculations. In my home city of Pittsburgh, that comes out to $4.95 per drink (P.S. I’m sorry for my New Yorkers who have to pay $5.25!). I’m also going to assume that like any true fan of delicious gourd-based coffee beverages, it’s likely you’ll visit Starbucks more than once per week. Fair? Let’s assume you keep your addiction to three drinks. Staying disciplined, you continue drinking three lattes per week for the entire Pumpkin Spice season – three months. Here’s how the math plays out.

"$178 isn't that bad!"

Let’s be real. You won’t stop after the fall is over. If you’re like my friend Jason here, you have your seasonal Starbucks lineup planned clear to Christmas. Can you say peppermint lattes!?

This is the damage of drinking Starbucks year-round.

Still not horrible! I mean, I deserve to live a little…

Maybe. However, that's not the whole story. If you hadn’t spent those dollars on a coffee fix, those dollars could have been saved and invested. This is known as lost opportunity cost. Assuming your money grew at a 6% rate of return, how much would you have after investing $772.2 per year for 30 years? You may want to sit down for this…

That, my Starbucks-loving comrades, is the TRUE cost of your coffee addiction. Every dollar spent on Starbucks is a dollar that’s no longer growing on your balance sheet. That’s a Mercedes-Benz CLA, a Platinum Daytona Rolex, or approximately $250 a month in retirement income. Life is about balancing between living today and planning for your future.

So Maybe cut back to two Pumpkin Spice Lattes per week.

Stay thirsty my friends.

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