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Is The Frugal Movement Over?

I smell doom for the frugality movement in the air. Like Donald Trumps hair, it was only a matter of time before the whole thing blew over and exposed some bare flesh beneath. Two years ago when the economy tanked, everyone rushed towards coupons, the size of newly built homes actually fell for the first time in decades and Americans began saving money. But that all seems to be going the side of the do-do bird. What am I talking about? Well, Starbucks has announced that its quarterly profits are up by 20% in the second quarter.

Ouches! I want to crawl back into my micro home and clutch my blanket because we are slowly going back to the actions that led us into this global financial mess in the first place. Okay, maybe I’m overreacting, but have you heard of the latte factor? I know that you probably have since you’re a smart cookie and you visit this blog regularly…but just in case you haven’t let’s do a Yes, I Am Cheap definition of the latte factor for you. It’s basically the impact that small purchases have on your bottom line over time. They’re little things that add up the big things when you’re not paying attention. They’re often made up of life’s little luxuries, such as a $3.50 Tall Chai Latte at Starbucks (so I’ve heard, so I’ve heard) when a $1.00 cup of coffee will do or a $0.50 cup from your home is just as good. If you have that $3.50 latte every weekday for a year it adds up to $910 a year and you probably didn’t even notice. That’s just for a cup of coffee. Now add to that the lunch that you buy every day, a magazine from the news stand every month, a couple of drive through meals every month, buying clothes that you don’t need and we slowly lose lots of money every single year.

Starbucks announcing that their profits have jumped by 20% and that foot traffic has increase significantly is the harbinger of doom. Compare this to a 97% drop in quarterly profits back in 2008. If you’ve been tightening your belt for two years and have gained some confidence that we have reached rock bottom with the economy and are back on an upswing, adding back that $3.50 latte is one of the first things that you will do. Then the big things will start to go. You’ll stop clipping coupons. You might hate the price of gas but you won’t be so conscientious about how much you’re really driving. Your savings rate will dip. Then you’ll start spending more on your credit cards. Arrrrrrgh. It’s enough to give a cheap girl nightmares. Or maybe it’s just a cup of coffee?

How’s your latte factor holding up? Better yet, what’s your favorite latte? Mine’s a tall pumpkin spiced whole milk, extra whip, latte. Mm dessert in a cup…or so I’ve heard.

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61 Comments

    • Celestial Seasonings makes this vanilla honey tea that is DIVINE. I can’t stop drinking it. It’ll do until I get my bi-monthly pumpkin latte.

    • I like having tea or coffee at home too. That way I get my favorite brands/flavors. I like Starbucks’ Mocha Latte, but the calories are too high to have often. Also, I’d rather save the latte factor money for travel! $900 goes a long way towards a flight!

  1. I take the iced Americano with Vanilla. It’s under 3-bucks and I’ve set a limit to my monthly Starbucks expenses. I’m more motivated than ever to stick to my budget and keep saving money and paying down debt. Though, I started this behavior before the 2008 meltdown, so I’m pretty sure it’s become a life-long habit. The tall pumpkin latte sounds pretty yummy…maybe one day I’ll veer off my habitual track.

    • Americano? I don’t know that one. Hmmm. I have to look on that side of the menu board next time because I’m clueless unless it’s got foam!

  2. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. It might just mean more people are budgeting for their caramel macchiato’s. Or people need more caffeine because they’re back to work. See? Good reasons!

    I kid, of course. I need to find a silver lining. People are getting tired of austerity. While I hate Starbucks and don’t go there, my bad habit is eating meals out. It adds up to a lot more than a daily latte, but I go because I have the money to do it and it’s so convenient. But, you could say I’m stimulating the economy and giving myself more reasons to work out! Yeah … lame excuse …

    • I’ve always wanted to ask but didn’t want to look like a moron, but what is the hell is a macchiato? Caramel I know and love but macchiato? No clue.

      • A macchiato is traditionally made with one shot of espresso, and the small amount of added milk was the ‘stain’. Starbucks adds caramel and steamed milk and vanilla syrup.

  3. Non-fat no water Chai Tea Lattes, or non-fat Pumpkin Spice Syrup Creams, and magazines. I’m bad with the magazines.

    That being said, I’m typing this sitting at a kitchen table drinking chai tea. I wouldn’t say the frugality measures are holding up 100%, but I’m certainly doing better than I was last year!

  4. I don’t think the frugal movement will ever end because I will be frugal no matter how much money i make

  5. I like the blended mocha frappuccino although I stopped going to Starbuck’s. I now go to a place within Border’s once a week and they have a loyalty program (1 free after 5 purchases). The frugal movement is similar to a diet, not everyone can stick with it. If it is a natural part of your life, you will stick with it.

    • Ahhh the mocha frapp. It was my first love back in high school when I had studying to do and it was warm outside. I felt so sophisticated.

  6. While I have the occasional soy chai while out (maybe once or twice a month), I never picked up on the “real” latte factor. Instead, my latte factor has been vending machines. I buy overpriced, unhealthy snacks because I can’t seem to resist! I’ve been trying to reign this in and have been more successful the past couple of months. Not having any cash on me at critical moments helps a lot :)

    • Soy? Health conscious, vegan or lactose intolerant? The soy drinkers always made me feel inferior, but then I said, if I’m paying more than the cost of a slice of pizza for coffee, I might as well throw the kitchen sink at it.

      That justified the cost for me.

  7. Well, it’s nice to see a sign of a little relief. I think over all people have learned a good lesson that will stick with them for a long time. Maybe they will even teach their kids a thing or two about money? One can dream!

  8. Well, it’s nice to see a sign of a little relief. I think over all people have learned a good lesson that will stick with them for a long time. Maybe they will even teach their kids a thing or two about money? One can dream!

  9. Dunno…I like the odd milkshake, but I’m not really one for flavoured drinks. Mine probably used to be bakery treats but now I don’t live near a good one.

  10. Dunno…I like the odd milkshake, but I’m not really one for flavoured drinks. Mine probably used to be bakery treats but now I don’t live near a good one.

  11. Mocha, non-fat no whip. My wife and I made the switch to Keurig, saying goodbye to SB.

    You know it’s a deep recession when it spawns a movement, like grunge. Early 90′s saw daggy jeans, flannel shirts, and long hair at the height of fashion. This generation just doesn’t seem to be as threadbare.

    • Dontcha want to just rub a little dirt on these kids these days? They’re too clean and…pretty. When was the last time one of them skinned a knee or God forbid, played outside?

  12. Mocha, non-fat no whip. My wife and I made the switch to Keurig, saying goodbye to SB.

    You know it’s a deep recession when it spawns a movement, like grunge. Early 90′s saw daggy jeans, flannel shirts, and long hair at the height of fashion. This generation just doesn’t seem to be as threadbare.

    • Dontcha want to just rub a little dirt on these kids these days? They’re too clean and…pretty. When was the last time one of them skinned a knee or God forbid, played outside?

  13. Haha I like how you wrote about doom and gloom and the latte factor and everyone’s writing out what their favourite starbucks drink is ;)

    I personally try my best not to have coffee (cus I don’t drink it anyway) and only go if coworkers peer pressure me into going…

    If I go to starbucks, i get the green tea latte myself ;)

    I definitely agree with you, I’m a bit bearish, we’re up at 52 week highs and a lot of the stocks are back to pre-2009 levels… spending also seems to be at pre-2009 levels too. Guess we never learn?

  14. Haha I like how you wrote about doom and gloom and the latte factor and everyone’s writing out what their favourite starbucks drink is ;)

    I personally try my best not to have coffee (cus I don’t drink it anyway) and only go if coworkers peer pressure me into going…

    If I go to starbucks, i get the green tea latte myself ;)

    I definitely agree with you, I’m a bit bearish, we’re up at 52 week highs and a lot of the stocks are back to pre-2009 levels… spending also seems to be at pre-2009 levels too. Guess we never learn?

  15. Ahhh the mocha frapp. It was my first love back in high school when I had studying to do and it was warm outside. I felt so sophisticated.

  16. Soy? Health conscious, vegan or lactose intolerant? The soy drinkers always made me feel inferior, but then I said, if I’m paying more than the cost of a slice of pizza for coffee, I might as well throw the kitchen sink at it.

    That justified the cost for me.

  17. We are at 52-week highs because the Fed is printing money non-stop and monetizing the debt. These are nominal highs only but don’t adequately reflect purchasing power which gives people a false sense of security to spend money. Eventually the high price of gasoline will lead to the double-dip recession that was so concerning several quarters ago. Don’t worry, frugal will be back.

    • I sit a couple of feet away from my company’s economist and she keeps telling me that the double dip recession that I’ve been dreading won’t happen, but that growth with slow to a crawl. That’s not such good news for my 401K…and my latte.

      • Sounds like she has been spending too much time listening to Bernanke. At least in my lifetime, many recessions have been preceded by rising energy (specifically oil) costs. You can be sure that if gas stays over $4 per gallon for more than a few months or hits $5, a recession is in the bag. Look at GDP for the first quarter. Major slow down already.

  18. Sounds like she has been spending too much time listening to Bernanke. At least in my lifetime, many recessions have been preceded by rising energy (specifically oil) costs. You can be sure that if gas stays over $4 per gallon for more than a few months or hits $5, a recession is in the bag. Look at GDP for the first quarter. Major slow down already.

    • Wait, there’s a small? It took me long enough to learn that a tall was a small and that there was no small but now you say that there’s is an actual, secret small that really is a small and not a tall? Too much for words.

  19. I think it’s great that the whole frugal movement is over with. The corporations need to make some money and hire more people. Everyone should SPEND SPEND SPEND!
    I’m sticking with being cheap though. I got a 2lb bag of Starbucks coffee bean from Costco for $10. :D

  20. I think it’s great that the whole frugal movement is over with. The corporations need to make some money and hire more people. Everyone should SPEND SPEND SPEND!
    I’m sticking with being cheap though. I got a 2lb bag of Starbucks coffee bean from Costco for $10. :D

  21. Maybe some people will stop being frugal but some of us have made this a lifestyle. We do need some people who are not frugal so the frugal people still get the deals. For example, the price of used cars went up because people were not buying new cars. For me and mine, I stick with my frugal ways.

    • I work in the auto industry and will give you some credit there but prices also went up because the cash for clunkers deal got rid of lots of cars that would have ended up in the used car market…that and people don’t want to spend 3-5 years paying for a car.

  22. I haven’t given up on frugality. LOL. I don’t go out for coffee or lattes but I do love my flavored teas. My favories are vanilla black tea and honey vanilla chamomile tea. They are heaven in my opinon. I use coupons for them any time I happen across one.

  23. I haven’t given up on frugality. LOL. I don’t go out for coffee or lattes but I do love my flavored teas. My favories are vanilla black tea and honey vanilla chamomile tea. They are heaven in my opinon. I use coupons for them any time I happen across one.

  24. I like having tea or coffee at home too. That way I get my favorite brands/flavors. I like Starbucks’ Mocha Latte, but the calories are too high to have often. Also, I’d rather save the latte factor money for travel! $900 goes a long way towards a flight!

  25. People can do what they want. I’ll be frugal until I die. Or more accurately, I’ll be frugal until I can live off my own wealth. Or probably even more accurately, I’ll be frugal until I get bored of not having enough with my cash! :)

  26. People can do what they want. I’ll be frugal until I die. Or more accurately, I’ll be frugal until I can live off my own wealth. Or probably even more accurately, I’ll be frugal until I get bored of not having enough with my cash! :)

  27. The frugal movement went the same way as the anti-SUV movement…is it a bad thing though? I don’t think so entirely. Let others spend keep our consumer economy moving and I’ll chill on the side line with cash when it does dip

  28. I work in the auto industry and will give you some credit there but prices also went up because the cash for clunkers deal got rid of lots of cars that would have ended up in the used car market…that and people don’t want to spend 3-5 years paying for a car.

  29. A macchiato is traditionally made with one shot of espresso, and the small amount of added milk was the ‘stain’. Starbucks adds caramel and steamed milk and vanilla syrup.

  30. I hardly ever buy from Starbucks, but I do budget for my favorite drink: $5 a week for a large, nonfat, sugar free, caramel latte from the locally owned coffee shop a block from my work. It is a splurge, but one of the few I have left. That, and the semi-annual big yarn purchases. :-)

  31. I hardly ever buy from Starbucks, but I do budget for my favorite drink: $5 a week for a large, nonfat, sugar free, caramel latte from the locally owned coffee shop a block from my work. It is a splurge, but one of the few I have left. That, and the semi-annual big yarn purchases. :-)

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