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Watching Your Wallet: How much you could earn if you invested your coffee money

What if you invested your daily latte money? The numbers might surprise you - and have you think twice about your spending habits.

By: Rachel DePompa, InvestigateTV and WWBT

Coffee: it’s a must in the morning for many of you. But one in three Americans spent more on coffee last year—than they invested– according to a recent survey from a money app.

For many– the day begins with the habit of spending on a cup of Joe to go.

“Yeah, I drink about a half pot of coffee before work, and every day I get my iced coffee, and I may get another one on my way home,” said Robert Grow of Richmond, Virginia.

“A Venti is what I require! Which is going to be $6 and 50 cents a day,” said Jo Planter of Chesterfield, Virginia.

Comparing real life with the game of Life, the idea is to save up for retirement and have money left over – while still having some fun along the way.

All of that coffee can add up. For example, if you spend $20 a week on coffee, that works out to $1,040 a year. If you were to invest that instead at an annual rate of 6 percent, you’d have an extra $170,000 for your retirement. But if you just kept drinking that coffee you’d eventually have spent $41,600 dollars on drinks with nothing to show for it.

Of course, t’s not just your cup of joe: lots of little things can add up fast.

“Coffee gets such a bad rap,” said Arielle O’Shea. She’s an investing and retirement specialist for the financial website NerdWallet. “I mean, $170,000, that’s a lot of money! I think most people in retirement would take an extra hundred thousand dollars, but you also want to think about how it’s all about give and take.”

Do you have more house than you can afford? Should you refinance? More car than you can pay for monthly? Are you taking multiple vacations a year instead of saving for retirement? O’Shea said those are the expenses that are really going to sabotage your saving.

“Going and buying that coffee, if it makes you happy, then cut back somewhere else. It’s just important to be mindful, I think,” O’Shea said.

Arielle O’Shea, a writer and finance expert from NerdWallet, said saving and spending is all about balance and planning. Cutting out a specific thing might make sense for one person but not another.

She said the problem isn’t the coffee, really—it’s buying things without thinking about them — and ignoring how those purchases can add up. So finding $20 to save from anywhere in your budget, whether that’s coffee or something else, can help.

“That’s the beauty of a budget. Right? People think budgeting is so restrictive. It’s you know like this dirty word like dieting, but the beauty of a budget is your actually giving yourself permission to spend on certain things,” O’Shea said.

Hear more tips from O’Shea in the video below: