Full disclosure: I don't drink coffee. I don't like the taste and don't need the caffeine (I'm high-energy enough).
So I can reveal the below without twitching, sweating or risking withdrawal headaches (which you should also probably know I had for a month when I quit Diet Coke).
Your ritual of grabbing a coffee on the way to work, at lunch or as an afternoon pick me up is adding 154 minutes a day to your mortgage.
Your tastes may run to cappuccino, which figures from the Skip ordering app suggest is most common in Sydney and South Australia. Perhaps your hot beverage of choice is the flat white, as in the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland and Western Australia. Or maybe – most likely in Victoria and Tasmania – you're a latte lover. (And I don't pretend to know the difference.)
No matter. Your daily micro-spend on the apparently delectable micro-grounds is keeping you in debt far longer than necessary.
To show the slow-roasted damage, I've taken it that you pay $4 per coffee a day, 365 days a year – a $1460-a-year habit.
I've also assumed you hold the average Aussie 25-year home loan of $376,200 at the Mozo-calculated average rate of 4.9 per cent.
Well, if you redirected from your mouth to your mortgage just your coffee money, you'd slash your interest bill by almost $31,000… and crucially get out of debt two years and five months early.
That reduction in time, produced by your no-coffee commitment for the remaining 22 years and 7 months, equates to a saving of 154 minutes a day – or more than 2.5 hours.
How long does it take you to drink a coffee? Maybe 15 minutes? It costs you 10 times that long! You could even retain the presumably pleasurable habit by buying one of those fancy-shmancy DIY coffee machines, the likes of which George Clooney spruiks (see, nothing can get me interested in coffee).
Push the boat out and pay $600 for it, and you'd still only need to drink 150 cups (which at one-a-day would take roughly five months) before the cost would drop to the price of the ingredients alone.
And what of that other routine outlay we finance boffins are always chastising people about: buying your lunch? Again this one's easy to report – not just from a wealth but also health perspective, I virtually always make my midday meal (tuna and salad costs about $2).
Even I believe a (reasonably priced) weekend avocado extravaganza is deserved at the end of a long week, but let's skip paying potentially a net $10 each weekday – $2600 a year – for a bought lunch.
That's adding 274 minutes (or 4.5 hours) a day to your debt-sentence. You could instead get mortgage-free four years early… and save $50,349 in the process.
Dare I mention wine? Yep going there – we'll assume four bottles a week are shared in your household, allowing for a slightly squiffier weekend, at $15 a bottle. Or the same amount in beer or whatever your poison.
That $60-a-week or $3120-a-year "tipple" is extending your loan by 323 minutes – almost 5.5 hours – a day.
Striving to put yourself in a superior financial position by cutting back on this or that can be a hazy, haphazard and hard-to-maintain goal. However, think about your frequent indulgences not in terms of potential money savings but time savings, and you may well find the motivation to curb them.
Of course, the saved coin has to go directly on the mortgage… not be sucked up by other consumption.
But if debt-freedom years earlier is the coffee/lunch/wine "carrot", there's also a stick.
Stories are rife about a looming mortgage crisis and the alleged "perfect storm" coming at people with home loans.
Indeed, I wrote one myself about the fact mortgage interest rate rises to just 8 per cent today would be the equivalent of the excruciating 17 per cent of the late '80s and early '90s.
But ditching your debt gets you entirely out of danger – and with rates at record lows, for now, it's never been cheaper.
Full disclosure: I do drink wine… everyone needs a vice. But anything you can do to trim yours will get you closer to mortgage-clear.
This article was originally published by the Sydney Morning Herald on 31 August 2017. It represents the views of the author only and does not necessarily reflect the views of AMP.
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