Ask the Readers: What Is Your "Latte Factor"?

By Ashley Jacobs on 12 February 2013 (Updated 19 February 2013) 116 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Kate, Sherry, and Monica for winning this week's contest!

In the world of savings, every little bit counts! Small, regular expenditures — like daily mid-afternoon lattes — will add up and can put a dent on your finances over time. Many people have chosen to cut their "latte factors" in exchange for the savings, but others don't mind the cost to enjoy these small luxuries.

What is your latte factor? Would you give it up for the savings? If you've already given something up, how much have you saved so far?

Tell us about your latte factor and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry:

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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  • You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:
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    If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

    Giveaway Rules:

    • Contest ends Monday, February 18th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after February 18th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
    • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
    • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
    • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck!

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Guest

Cigarettes. I quit 20+ years ago. I was a pack a day smoker. Adjusting for inflation, that's a savings of about $25,000.

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Mary Happymommy

I don't drink coffee at all but my husband has given up going out for coffee to save money.

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Tyler

My latte factor would be eating out. I eat out far more than I should. I am currently giving it up for savings and finding creative ways to eat out for free (and get paid) through mystery shopping. I currently am saving about $15 per week at my current rate.

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Christie

I don't have much of a "Latte Factor", but I do spend about $80 a week on groceries, some of which are gourmet and expensive. But I do love eating well and $80 a week for our family of 4 doesn't seem too excessive to me. The lattes that I enjoy every few weeks are gifts. I ask for gift cards for Birthday and Christmas and enjoy lattes and lunches out free all year long!! :)

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Lara Anderson

My "latte factor" is a protein bar or shak eafter a hard workout. My gym has a smoothie and nutrition section right by the door as you go out and it's very hard sometimes not to do the easy way out and pick up a quick protein to go. The problem is they range from $2-4 and even doing 1 or 2 a week adds up quickly. Am now bringing a protein shake from home to drink in the car!

Guest's picture

I only drink lattes in the summer and that is only on special occasions. Don't go out of my way to get them so would not miss them.

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Nancy

My latte factors--the little treats that add up--include the following:
1) Tall Starbucks house brew. I used to buy one for the road when making monthly 125-mile drives to visit friends and relatives. Now I take along my home-brewed coffee. I save about $24 a year.
2) Bottled water. I used to buy small bottles for taking along on hikes, car trips, etc. Now I use reusable bottles filled from my filtered tap at home. In three years, I estimate I've saved at least $600. I have also stopped home delivery of bottled water for a savings of $45 a month.
3) The treat cigar. I used to have a cigar on Sunday evening after dinner. I've stopped that for health reasons and to save a little money. Giving up this habit saves between $78 a year (based on mail-ordering the cigars) and $520 a year (based buying the cigars locally in California.)
4) Bi-weekly manicure. I used to have a simple manicure once every two weeks. Foregoing this treat and doing my own manicures saves about $500 a year.
Total estimated annual savings: approximately $1,500

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judyyy

cokes!

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Elena

My "latte factor" is eating out. I am trying to cut back on this.

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Bethany

Ours is Trader Joe's Hummus. OMW...so good. Yes, I could give it up, but right now we don't have too
bethanyg153 at gmail dot com

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KF

I don't have any "latte factors" but I did cut cable tv. It was hard at first, but I like it now. I save at least $80 a month.

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David

I try to brew my coffee at home instead of buying it from out. Saves a lot of money.

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katie m

The Dunkin' Donuts across from my work! I've mostly cut back, but so tempting when I need an afternoon pick me up!

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Betty

My latte factor was getting my nails done twice a month. I stopped when my daughter started college. I've been saving $30 per month. My nails don't look as nice, but I'll live!

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Sherry Butcher

I'm a scrapbook and card making designer and to save money I stopped my high prices magazines saving about $92.00. I put myself on a spending freeze so I stop, think and then if I must spend money on my crafts.

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SavingsUnder20

My "latte factor" is bottled water! I would typically drink 3 store bought bottled waters a day. Switching to a reusable cup and filtered tap water can save me up to $6 a day. Doesn't sound like a lot per day, but this switch could save me up to $2,000 per year.....and that's just on water! In exchange for the tap water switch, I now have a little extra money for a Starbucks latte a week! :)

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Candice C.

My "latte factor" is quite literally an iced vanilla latte from Starbucks! I have cut back drastically since I got a Keurig for Christmas (so much more fun than a regular coffee pot!) and now only go to Starbucks about once a week as opposed to 4-5 times a week. When I do go to Starbucks, I make sure to use my gold card, which gets me a free drink after 12 purchases. I cannot give it up completely, and it's a small thing I treat myself to since I rarely go out for drinks or dinners.

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molly

I never really got into coffee but I try to save instead of buying the little items.

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Elizabeth V.

breakfast sandwiches on the way to work... I'm not sure why idling in the drive-thru line and dropping $7 for a sandwich, hash browns and a coffee feels faster than the same amount of time spent putting it together in the kitchen! I'm a pretty accomplished frugalista, but drive-thru brekkie is my most stubborn remaining vice!

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Emmy

I take a green apple, dried cranberries, and blue cheese to work everyday for my snack. It gives me something filling, sweet, and crunchy to eat, and lasts hours, since it doesn't go bad. Since I do that, I don't use the vending machine for chips or candy. Plus, and apple a day keeps the doctor away.

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Jessica

I used to do a Starbucks a day. We got a Keurig and now I go about once a month. Even with the cost of Kcups bought on sale and with a coupon, Im still up about $150 a month.

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Holly

Our latte factor is definitely eating out. It seems like we're alway racing off to some sport or kid's activity right after I get off work and there's no time to fix something at home so it's easiest just to grab some drive-thru. I've been trying to save a little by fixing a sandwich for me at home but my kids aren't big on cold sandwiches but at least we're saving on one meal.

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Monica

I buy chia tea in bulk, its spending more than I should because I used 4lbs a month but it is better than other things I could be buying instead.

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MP

My "latte factor" is iTunes. Before this year I didn't think twice about buying songs, apps, books, etc. In January my husband and I started a strict budget to pay off our debt, so now with my very small allowance I purchase an iTunes card and think twice before I use it. With this small change we will save about $100 a month!!!

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Kevin

My latte factor was cable/satellite tv. A year and a half ago, we were paying around $100/month for Dish Network. Now we use Apple TV, iTunes and Netflix, and probably save around $80/month, and find that we don't miss much, especially since we can find most of our news online, and watch television programs through various methods (Netflix, DVDs, stream through network website/apps).

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Jan

Ours was pizza, delivered - at least $15 plus at least a $3 tip, at least twice a month - $36 a month, about $432 per year. We buy grocery store frozen pizza at about $6 apiece, $12 per month, $144 per year. Savings of $288 per year! And probably a lot less grease!

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Natalie

I've started "splurging" on a $10 pound of coffee and make it fresh at home or work for a month or so. It's nice that $10 will go so far, instead of buying maybe 4 lattes with the same $10. That's not even a full week of drinks!

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Katie D.

Mine is definitely eating out with friends. I don't do it often, but I would rather sacrifice that little bit of extra savings for time with people. It's a small price to pay...

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Amanda

My "latte factor" was books; I love reading and feel great pride in seeing the books I love on my bookshelves. Now, I get books or ebooks from the library and only when I absolutely love a novel and know I'll read it again do I buy it - used of course.

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Amy H

My latte factor is eating lunch out during the work week. We're paying off our debts, so I've cut back to eating out 1-2 lunches per week. I'm saving about $25 per week!

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Cedar

Magazines. I try to compromise by subscribing (when I find a good deal) to my favorites (figure this is better than buying even a few full-price), as well as checking out older issues from the library.

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NJJ

I don't have a latte factor per se since I can't have caffeine but I do like to splurge on more expensive juices one in a while Where I save is instead of buy a bottle of juice everytime I want one I buy a larger bottle and use a refillable bottle that I can take with me while I'm on the go.

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Nancy B from Many LA

I very rarely go out for coffee drinks. First, I think Starbucks coffee is horrible, and it's way overpriced. I make my own at home. We don't go out to eat much, and don't have much extra money for anything...

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Elizabeth

My latte factor is eating out, as some others have mentioned as well. We have been intentionally skipping the pizza delivery and other spur of the moment restaurant purchases in order to save and have money for other things. This has also helped tend my love of cooking and our ability to eat the produce from our CSA share more completely and not compost as much of it.

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Marissa

My latte factor is garden goodies. That includes plants, planters, outdoor furniture & throws! They really do make such a difference for the yard!

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Lauren

Without a doubt, it's fast food. It's amazing how quickly those value menu dollars add up.

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Kelli

My latte factors are soda, chocolate, and baked goods. I used to smoke but quit almost 16 years ago, so I think junk food and sweets replaced cigarettes for me. I'm currently trying to stop buying these things for savings as well as health. It's hard, but I'm working on it!

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Tabathia B

I drink only on special occasions or when there is an ongoing special and have invested in Tassimo to save on drinking out and with two college students that's a lot of savings

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Therese

I take my lunch to work almost every day and also drink hot tea or water from our cooler at work.

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Guest

I gave up the idea of ever ordering lattes. I always order just plain black coffee. That costs enough as it is. Anything else just adds up too fast and is usually packed with sugar. So I avoid the sweet stuff. Plain black coffee does it for me.

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Mel

My "Latte Factor" is buying lunch or snacks at school to save the hassel of bringing/making lunch and washing dishes. Now I try to cook in bulk and have saved almost $100 a month.

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Kate

My latte factor is definitely lattes. Soy lattes, to be exact!

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L

Kindle books. I do use the library first whenever possible, but when that is not an option I am more apt to spend on than any other area.

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Eric

I've given up a few things like this -- buying espresso drinks on the weekends and replacing Diet Coke with sparkling water (way cheaper and healthier).

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Thrifty Writer

Sweets/sweet snacks! There is a coffee shop next door to where I work that offers a 2-for-1 sale between 6 pm. and 7 p.m. every day...donuts, scones, cookies - I have to resist for my waistline almost as much as my wallet.

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GuestMichelle

A year ago, I would get a cup of coffee anyday that I was out and about. Now I only get take out coffee when traveling long distance. Maybe once a month.

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Emily Nagle

Mine is gaterade or other hydration drinks. So I started buying the powder and mixing my own.

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Jan

Delivered pizza! We switched to grocery store frozen pizza at half the price and saved hundreds per year.

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Lisa

I don't drink coffee or have a latte factor that I can think of off hand. Occasionally I indulge in chocolate but it's rare. Amazon holds a certain magnetism for me though.

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Lisa B.

My latte factor is eating out. After a few too many unsatisfying restaurant meals, I realized that there are some things I can make better and cheaper at home, but some things are worth splurging on, so I save my money for those things. For me, that's sushi, really great French fries, and a really great burger (obviously not eaten all at the same time!). When I do go out, I usually drink water to save money on overpriced sodas, and I'm not too proud to take leftovers home.

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Guest

Personal trainers, and figure competitions were my latte factor. About 2 yrs ago I stopped paying 400 bucks a month for a trainer, got my own ISSA training certification, and work out on my own now. Also quite competing due to extreme dieting and metabolism damage.

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Elle

I have two:

1. My coworker and I recently started a "coffee club" to cut back on work coffee purchases. I brought an old coffee maker to work and we take turns purchasing bags of coffee. Each morning we split a pot of brewed coffee.
2. I asked for and received a roku as a birthday present. I have a monthly Hulu + subscription at $7.99. Between the roku and hulu + subscription, I eliminated any need for expensive cable.

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Guest

I've never really thought about it before, but I guess I've got a few:
- getting my toenails done when I get my nails done, which I gave up sometime last year and opted to do it myself. It was $15 just for the paint (not even a pedicure), and that was probably once every 2 or 3 months.
- soda bought individually . . . I still buy them, but I don't buy smaller than a 2-liter if I have an option (that's the cheapest option here). It's not giving it up entirely, but at the convenience store nearest my apartment this saves about $1.50 - $3 per day for any day I would have bought an individual bottle (not every day, but still - adds up!)
- restaurant meals used to be more of a norm - probably at least once every week or two and often more than once a week. AT $10-$20, that also adds up! I still go to restaurants, just not every week.
- getting my hair professionally cut and colored cost me over $400 last year *before* I gave it up part way through the year. My hair still looks good and it only costs me $4 per box of hair dye that I do myself. I'll probably go back once or twice this year to get the cut "fixed" though, lol
- one that I haven't given up is little snacks at the convenience store . . . . I do try to cut back (not every day!) . . . . oddly, it helps to buy them individually because it means I have to put in more effort (versus having a bulk purchase at home) and thus don't buy as much junk food. Good for my waist, not my wallet.

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Holly Wolf

A quick stop at the grocery store. I know I just need kale and milk...and WOW, yogurt is on sale 10 for $10 and my favorite greens are buy one get one free. Don't those bananas look great? We haven't had baby bok choy in a while. I think we are getting low on butter and cereal, too.

Before you know it, I'm $50 poorer on stuff that I really didn't need right now. It never goes to waste but I didn't really need to spend it. That's why I try to go food shopping every 6 weeks and keep the salad, milk and fresh veggie runs to just 1/ week.

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Happy Love

I stopped buying alcohol for home consumption years ago because of the price tag, and I rarely buy alcohol when I go out.

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debbie

the occassional cup of coffee at home does good for me. Instant hazelnut...enough for one good cup and i'm set.

Guest's picture

My latte factor would be magazines. I love to read through magazines and used to spend so much money each month on them. At about $5 each, they really add up! I now have subscriptions to the two that I enjoy most (saving money from buying directly from the shelf) and may occasionally buy one if something really stands out. I save $10-15 per month with this habit change!

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Jacki

Books- used, new, print, and e-books! :)

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Amy

I gave up cable. I miss live sports, but otherwise it's not so bad!

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Kerry

My weekly bottle of red wine at $15.00 a pop. I gave it up in August 2012, saving $60 per month.

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MELISSA HANSSON

I still go out at least twice a week for Starbucks. I use coupons and family gives me gift cards, too. I just find that the coffee perk, the short walk away from my office, the camaraderie of talking to my co-worker during this time and the little feeling of having a splurge is priceless.

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lostAnnfound

Chocolate. At one point I would have chocolate every day, at least a lit snack size, sometimes more, sometimes Hershey's, sometimes Godiva...it all depended on the mood, the time and the $$. Now it is definitely a rare treat!

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Sarah

Manicures and hair coloring. I've managed to resist both (well, I was stuck in the hair coloring rut for a year or two then quit cold turkey).

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Lori P

Our latte factor would be books, magazines and movies. The last year or so we have been borrowing from the library and friends more often. Downloading free books from Amazon and other sites and getting mags from RewardsGold.com.

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caffeine-free

Zero, I quit caffeine & I like not spending $ on it.

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Michelle Murphy

Latte factor is clothes shopping - yes, can and have given up in order to reduce debt and save. I always tell myself - that article of clothing might make me feel good for a moment but the guilt will last much longer!

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Diane

I'm not a coffee drinker and have a Starbucks maybe twice a year as a treat. My latte factor would be soft drinks, bottled water & paperback books. I've given up the soft drinks except for 1 a week on Pizza Night. I bring water from home wherever I go and I get free novels from Amazon on my Kindle. I'm not sure how much this saves but it must be worth something~!

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Amber

Mine is expensive hair and beauty products. I'm trying to ween myself off of department store stuff and find stuff at target. After some research and trial and error, I feel an odd sense of pride that I found a cheaper hand lotion and conditioner.

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Trang

I gave up restaurants, except for Groupons which I already bought. We've probably saved at least $150 so far.

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Emily

Getting a soda from the vending machine in my building. I don't do it that often, but I'm sure I'd save $10-$20 a year if I could resist the urge to buy one or remember to bring in my own.

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Bridget

I gave up my car. I was spending $300/month for gas and insurance alone, not to account for maintenance and emergencies. I now ride a bike or take public transportation. Much less stress and money!

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Jen

My "latte factor" is a few dark chocolate covered almonds from the bulk bin at Sprouts every week. It's my one indulgence, both budget-wise and diet-wise. I enjoy every bite!

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Laura

My partner and I were both raised with meat at all three meals, each day a week. For financial reasons, we now eat meat perhaps 3 times a week, at best. We get our protein from much cheaper (and healthier) places like beans and rice, quinoa, and tofu. Our friends think it must be hard to live without meat, but at this point we don't miss it, though we do appreciate it more when we have it! And over the years, we have saved hundreds (thousands?) of dollars by cutting meat from our daily menu.

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Monique

Spontaneous grocery shopping was my latte factor. I now plan out each trip and meals and stick to a weekly budget, which saves about $125 a month.

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DeeDee

I buy loose tea by the pound and it lasts for a few months. I brew at home and take it to work, I think I am only person where I work that does this.

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Guest

I rent 95% of my movies and TV shows from the library. No Netflix, very rarely do we get RedBox movies. We live next door to a public library and it has saved us hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

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Beth

I love drinking fountain soda, but I skip it out and have saved enough for a roundtrip flight!

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Brenda Faulkner

I gave up lunch purchases at work.

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Steff

Candy bars at the grocery store

Guest's picture

Now that I run my own art business from home, I don't have those daily temptations like I did working in an office. For example -- if the drink machine in the break room was freshly stocked, the chocolate milk called out to me, no matter what our budget was.

At home, it's easier to not have a latte factor, although I do love Oreos. And those are expensive. It's easier to just not buy them at all, get over the cravings, and keep the savings....but we cave occasionally. :)

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Sabrina A.

My latte factor would be going to movies. It would usually cost around $50 for my husband and I going out with tickets and concessions. Now we opt for redbox or netflix and pop a bag of popcorn for a more frugal date night right at $3.

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Guest

My "latte" is the most important "factor" in my workday! Sometimes I feel guilty about the daily expense of a large indulgence (only a few cents more expensive that the medium, so surely that's a bit frugal??!!) but my work life is hectic, stressful and long on hours so a latte is my calming drug of choice!

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Oscar Castillo

My factor would have to be Chinese Take Out and Vanilla Coke. It's mostly what I buy on my free days. But I make sure to do this with my allotted "Fun Money" instead of my "Needs Money"

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Lynda

mine latte factor is probably mascara.

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FrugalCat

It was indeed a latte, as in, a decaf iced white mocha from Starbucks. I would get them only occasionally as it killed me to pay $5 for a non-alcohol drink. Last year I bought a bottle of white chocolate syrup and make my own at home. Still only do it occasionally as I know how much sugar is in these.

Guest's picture

Going out for lunch while at the office. It is very tempting to join everyone at the popular sandwich restaurant and get out of the office, but I have started making my own healthy lunch each day instead: mixed beans, hard boiled egg and a banana.

This gives me the protein, energy, fibre and iron that I need to stay sane and focuses in the afternoon WHILE saving me about 7$ a day at the office.

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Toffeemama

We have a bad habit of eating out on the weekends. We're really busy and on-the-go during the weekends, and I just don't feel like messing around in the kitchen. I'd estimate that we spend at least $50 extra a week on fast food or sit-down restaurants. I'm working on this by having some easy meals in the fridge or freezer, even if it's just leftovers.

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Carol

Shopping at Whole Foods. I like to have an organic diet, despite my low income. I'm now splitting groceries between Whole Foods and the regular grocery store, and it saves me a bit.

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Kristine E.

I gave up lattes at the beginning of the year and I actually don't miss them at all! Savings add up quickly when you don't spend money on frivolous things.

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Jamie

I had Starbucks as my 'latte factor' when I worked 1/2 block from one a few years back at my 'real' job. After that proximity died, I started making myself coffee every day - but the good stuff ~ $16/lb, going through about 2 lbs/month. It was still cheaper than starbucks, but I've managed to cut way back on the expense by ... drinking the office coffee at work 5 days/week and only brewing the good stuff at home on weekends.

I also gave up smoking almost two years ago, and I cringe every time I see someone smoking because I know what it can do to your finances, especially when it's my coworkers at my side gig as a cocktail waitress since I know how broke some of those kids are.

Right now, it would mostly be convenience food, which I'm getting better at little by little.

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prathee chandar

My latte factor is cutting on TV:

We have never had a cable. We used Netflix before. But we didn't find it worth $8 a month. So, we cancelled the membership and now getting DVDs from the library.
that saves $96 per month.

We moved from 2b/2b apartment to 1b/1b apartment to save money. that saves us $210 per month. Annual savings: $2520

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S K

Wild caught salmon and my favorite brand of merlot are two of my latte factors. I can't give up either one to eat the cheapest fish and drink the cheapest wine.
However, one of the main reasons I quit smoking 20 years ago was to save the money from smoking six packs a week (of course I didn't smoke the cheapest brands of cigarettes either), and hopefully saving a lot of money in health care by having healthy lungs!

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dcishome

I realized several years ago my weakness for mocha lattes was going to put me in the poorhouse. Now, everyday I drink a "poor man's latte"--a cup of coffee (regular or decaf) mixed with a packet of instant hot chocolate. My co-workers tease me, but they also say they admire my creativity and frugality. I figure I save around $80/month.

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vidya

Ours were the top three: I am a tea drinker, my husband is a coffee drinker and we both used to eat at mediterranean deli with him used to eating lunch at work.

Now that I am working part time, I carry my tea bag with me where ever I go and my mug. I make him coffee and a bag lunch before he leaves for work along with feeding him a good breakfast, plus, I have learned to make falafel's from scratch and incorporated the basics of a mediterranean diet into our menu to eat at home. We also joined a local community garden and though I budget is tight, our grocery bill is small yet effective, not to mention that we are eating healthier. We have gone green and are saving green and adding to our health at the same time!

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Stefanie

I don't have anything I regularly purchase on a daily or weekly basis, but I do occasionally go out for fancy coffee or baked goods from local shops. The rest of the time I make coffee or tea at home and cook my own food. I do try to use coupons or take advantage of special when I get coffee or pastries out - like 2 for 1 deals or special of the day prices.

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Ann Duong

Magazine subscriptions

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Jennifer

Baked goods, especially donuts. So easy to run in and pick one up! It doesn't seem like something that costs much, but at Dunkins now they're a buck each!

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Alexis Boudreau

I definitely spend too much money on gum or mints. I never want to be caught with bad breath in a meeting, and sometimes i like to chew on gum to help me avoid some other type of food. Even just a pack of each a week adds up quick!

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Rebecca B. A. R.

Thankfully, I don't like the taste of any kind of coffee, but I do love McDonald's sweet tea. I try to limit it to only a couple times a week, though.