The true cost of Bubble Tea on our personal finances (The Latte Effect)

Phase 2 is approaching and this means that the traffic at Bubble Tea shops will be back in no time! I am interested to find out about the true cost of bubble tea on my personal finances.

We are more aware about how much money we spend on large purchases, as compared to the small things we spend on. But the seemingly trivial expenses incurred can actually derail our progress in accumulating wealth.

Small amounts of money spent on a regular basis cost us far more than we can imagine.

David Bach

David Bach coined a term “the latte factor”, describing the small amounts we spend here and there. If we add up the cost of our daily lattes and invested it, we could build up wealth significantly faster.

My favourite Bubble Tea

  • Green Tea Macchiato (M) $3.30
  • Bubble Q Milk Tea (M) $4
  • Caramel Milk Tea with Ice Cream (L) $6.50

Use this or this Latte Factor Calculator to get the figures.

At first glance, the results are pretty surprising. A discretionary, but regular expense can be so impactful on our finances? It's more obvious that the total cost amounts to $13,520 ($6.50 every week, for 40 years). However, the true cost of spending is the forgone interest earnings compounded over many years – not the actual money spent.

If we choose to invest the weekly $6.50 expenditure at an annual interest rate of 5%, compounded annually, we would earned $29,462 in interest. So, the real cost of our bubble tea expenditure is actually >$40K.

Compound interest calculator can bet found here.

What you will discover when calculating your latte factor is the biggest cost of periodic spending is not the money you wasted. It's the forgone interest of that money compounded over many years. The forgone interest is the surprising truth behind the latter factor that can literally make or break your wealth.

I touched briefly on how we self-sabotage our finances unintentionally here.

Small trivial things we spend on every day add up to an extremely large amount over time. Taking control of our latte factor calls for discipline in spending habits. Hopefully this analysis will help us get a better grasp of our everyday spending.

Now we know about the high cost of small, periodic spending, what spending will you cut down on?

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6 comments on “The true cost of Bubble Tea on our personal finances (The Latte Effect)”

  1. I want to cut down on my clothing purchases, I am doing a new clothing spending ban for 5 months. Oh and we are cutting out alcohol too. Time to get mean and financially lean, okay maybe just financially lean.

  2. It's definitely the compounding factor and routine/repeated spending that people underappreciate.

    If you go out and buy a $40k new car, often folks just see it as spending $40k. The problem is that this becomes a routine. Every X years, you spend $40k on a new car. And you do that over the course of your life.

    Add compounding to that (plus other factors for that specific purchase like maintenance), and the number gets real big real quick over the course of a lifetime.

    Thanks for the reminder 🙂

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