13 Women Share What They REALLY Spend On Retirement Vs. Coffee

Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
It’s possibly the most exhausted “easy” money-saving tip of all time: Cut back on those coffeeshop lattes, and you’ll save enough to buy a home! Sounds straightforward enough, but also too good to be true. Besides, are we really spending that much on coffee? According to a new study, we apparently are. SurveyMonkey says that 44% of millennial women put less money into their retirement accounts this year than into their coffee funds. (Um, guilty.)

This is not a statistic to scoff at. But what do those numbers — and that shocking savings vs. caffeine spending discrepancy — look like on a day-to-day level? We spoke with 13 women* who were willing to share the breakdown of their monthly spending in both categories. These women span a wide range of industries, cities, salaries, and budgeting-app approaches, but they're all doing their damndest to reconcile their current coffee habits with their plans to, you know, be able to enjoy that morning brew in blissful retirement someday.

The verdict? Overall, these women are doing a startlingly good job of budgeting. Maybe I should ask them to talk me out of the cortado I just ordered.
*Some names and identifiers have been changed.
Advertisement
1 of 14
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Works as: Marketing Manager
Annual Salary: $65K-$100K
Monthly Coffee Spend: $40-50, "because I mostly drink shitty bodega coffee or make decaf at home."
Monthly Retirement Deposit: $350 pre-tax, "which Fidelity is always telling me is not enough."
2 of 14
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Works in: Web Development
Annual Salary: $100-$150K
Monthly Coffee Spend: $50-69
Monthly Retirement Deposit: $1K

"I don't actually have a 401k through my job, but I do put $1K a month into a brokerage account; I'm allowed to cash in at any time, but the plan is that I won't. I'm pretty good about making coffee at home and buying K-cups."
3 of 14
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Works as: Stay-at-home mom
Annual salary: $0, husband's salary is $30K
Monthly Coffee Spend: $6.50
Monthly Retirement Deposit: $0
"I buy one 30-oz Folger's coffee jug for $6.50 (I keep coupons) and that usually lasts me two months-ish. I used to drink SO MUCH more coffee but I'm breast-feeding so now I have one cup a day."
4 of 14
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Works as: Government Attorney
Annual Salary: $100K-$150K
Monthly Coffee Spend: $50, "including coffee made at home as well as Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts on-the-go purchases."
Monthly Retirement Deposit: $620.
"This does not include payments made towards Social Security (that's about $500)."
5 of 14
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Works in: Advertising
Annual Salary: $100K-150K
Monthly Coffee Spend: $80-100
Monthly Retirement Deposit: 6% of salary
to an IRA.
"OMG. I am a $5 latte, four to five days a week kind of gal. The funny thing is that I don't even think it's about the caffeine so much as that I am a total creature of habit, and I love the habit of starting my day at my favorite coffee shop, saying hi to the baristas, and having a moment to myself to just be before I dive into the work day. As for my retirement-savings percentage, I have been telling myself that I need to up it to 7% (I'd love to get to 10%) but I have yet to actually do it."
Advertisement
6 of 14
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Works as: Event Planner
Annual Salary: $65K
Monthly Coffee Spend: $40, "which is still too much for something that is mostly water."
Monthly Retirement Deposit: $162.50
"I contribute $162.50 a month (my employer matches up to 3% of my salary, and then contributes an additional 6%, so I've been doing that; I should probably do more). I don't buy coffee every day — especially when I work from home."
7 of 14
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Works as: University Writer & Researcher
Annual Salary: $65K-$100K
Monthly Coffee Spend: $45-55
Monthly Retirement Deposit: $180
"My personal retirement contributions are $180 per month, and my employer matches that AND provides 4% straight up, which is like $300. So with just me, it's usually $45 vs. $180. But total it's $45 vs. $480. Wow! look at me!"
8 of 14
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Works as: Surgical Resident
Annual Salary: $65K-$100K

Monthly Coffee Spend: $200
Monthly Retirement Deposit: $200
"LOL."
9 of 14
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Works as: Small Business Owner
Annual Salary: $65-$100K
Monthly Coffee Spend: $40
Monthly Retirement Deposit: $0
"My numbers are pretty pathetic: I probably spend $30 just on coffee beans for the house, and another 10 on coffee out. Not much because I work from home, a lot because I buy fancy beans. I put ZERO DOLLARS into my retirement. I do put $320 into savings, which gets funneled into different accounts at different times (sometimes towards equity etc., but not always). I'm more focused on buying a house and paying off credit card debt."
10 of 14
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Works as: Dramaturg
Annual Salary: Up to $35K
Monthly Coffee Spend: $10
Monthly Retirement Deposit: $135, "Because my workplace matches up to that percentage of my salary, which is a nice incentive.) In the last year, I've spent $62 at coffee shops (according to Mint), although I sometimes pay cash, so $10 a month seems like a safe bet. This is partly because theater salaries are, well, theater salaries; and mostly because I grew up with a mother who drank Café Français instead of actual coffee, and I've adopted her habit of dumping large amounts of flavored sugar into hot water every morning. Mmmm!"
Advertisement
11 of 14
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Works in: Tech
Annual Salary: $100K-$150K
Monthly Coffee Spend: $15
Monthly Retirement Deposit: $800
"I get free coffee at work (including Nespresso when I want it), and I'm actually super cheap about spending money on stuff I get for free in the office."
12 of 14
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Works in: Law
Annual Salary: $150K+
Monthly Coffee Spend: $50, "which is more than I realized!"
Monthly Retirement Deposit: $1,958.34 to an employee-sponsored plan (10%), which is split between a Roth and a traditional 401k.
"I am also putting an average of about $500 per month into an investment account with a long-term horizon (as of November) — not a retirement account, but retirement-focused savings, since the IRS rules mean you can't contribute more than $18,000 a year to the retirement plan (so last year I didn't make any contributions after October or so). Will probably make that regular once I pay off my student loans."
13 of 14
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Works as: Copywriter
Annual salary: $35K-$65K
Monthly Coffee Spend: $15
Monthly Retirement Deposit: $460
"I have been trying to only drink coffee at work rather than buy it — and therefore only have one or two cups of coffee, max, per day. So, costs have been down. As for my IRA, my job doesn't contribute; I do myself. I definitely spend more money than I need to, but I am trying to be better about little things like coffee, and I donate to small causes I care about."
14 of 14
Advertisement