The survey from app company Acorns paints a grim portrait

By Mike Pomranz
Updated February 13, 2018
coffe cash
Credit: photo by 400tmax via getty images

The old cliché goes something like this: Think about how much money you could save if you just made coffee at home instead of going to Starbucks every day. Granted, the idea isn’t always entirely practical, but like many clichés, the core concept is based in truth. And in this case, there may be more truth than we’d like to admit. According to a recent survey, about a third of people who responded said they spent more on coffee on the past year than they invested.

This revelation comes courtesy of the investment app company Acorns, which surveyed 3,010 people ages 18 to 44 (across a general population, not necessarily its customers) about their spending and saving habits. Of the people they spoke with, about half (46 percent) said they felt “confident and hopeful” about their financial future. From the other group, this stat might have something to do with it: 34 percent of those surveyed said they spent more on coffee than investing. They were also given the potentially frustrating reminder that “For context, the average American spends about $1,100/year on coffee.”

Keep in mind, the question was still phrased in a personal context, meaning respondents should have answered based on their own spending and investing habits, not based around the average. Maybe someone spent $1 million on coffee and only managed to save $900,000 for the year. But at face value, it would seem like a pretty grim number. And the rest of Acorns report paints a pretty sad portrait too. The survey states that 51 percent of people didn’t invest at all last year. Meanwhile, a quarter of respondents said they didn’t even save in 2017, let alone invest.

Of course, though comparing money to coffee might be the cliché, in some ways, it’s also a little unfair. The average American drinks around three cups of coffee a day, in part because without that much coffee, they’d struggle to get through the day. And if you don’t get through the day, you’re not making any money at all. So cutting down on your coffee expenses could actually lower your earning potential.

However, the survey had one other telling number. The brand asked if those surveyed would “say no to coffee for a year” for $1,000. The result: 41 percent said they would. If you happen to find yourself in an overlap between the aforementioned 34-percent group and that 41-percent group, well, it would seem like your 2018 investment strategy is right before your eyes.