In a long-ago New York Times article, Damon Darlin advises graduates to save money by skipping the lattes at Starbucks. Make your own coffee, he says. You’ll save about $2000 a year.
I would tend to agree…except…
Freud famously said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”
But sometimes a latte is NOT just a latte.
That latte can be your entry into office politics, depending on who you’re drinking with. Those $3 drinks may be an investment in your future. For example:
(1)You’re sipping with the stars.
If your industry or company group hangs out at the local coffee shop, you’re not just drinking coffee: you’re gathering intelligence that you can use to advance your career.
Of course, if you get together to gripe and you’re drained by negative energy, gossip and whining, you’re losing a lot more than the price of coffee.
One small town business owner invested over $200 a month in coffee at two espresso hangouts. He was one of the few business owners who came by regularly to chat with the regulars and stay informed. His business was one of the few that demonstrated explosive growth in the downtown area.
(2) You’re forcing yourself to get some work done.
Those who work at home know all too well: sometimes you gotta get out of Dodge. You’re feeling enclosed by four walls. The refrigerator is way too tempting. And frankly, you’re just plain lonely.
Drop the dog into day care and head for Uptown Espresso, Java Joint, Bean City…whatever your locale has to offer. Nurse a drink and work with the wi-fi. Cheaper than renting an office…and if you meet with a client, you deduct the coffee from your taxes (if your accountant approves – I’m not an expert).
Bonus: I’ve met several business owners who made better connections over laptops at Starbucks than at those $50-a-pop networking meetings.
I’ve also spotted corporate executives hiding out in the corner, ducking yet another dreary meeting.
The coffee shop environment can be so productive, you no longer have to go to a coffee shop.
Nearly every city in the world has coworking spaces where you can join for a day, several days or even a year. Come visit my coworking space in Philadelphia – http://indyhall.org The best part is, you can grab a table and walk away for a break, knowing your laptop, notes and lunch will be there when you return.
And you can get the “ambient sounds of a coffee shop” through a cool online app – Coffeetivity.
(3) You absolutely, positively hate your job and your latte gives you a break.
When people hate their jobs, it’s important to find something to enjoy, even if it’s just a picture on an office wall. Of course, I also advise them to get proactive about making some change. See my Udemy course on Ten Things To Do When You Really, Really Hate Your Job. (Get 50% off with that link.)
Sometimes you need to hang on because you need credibility, experience, time in grade, or basic survival funds. Looking forward to that latte may get you through the day and the week…and it’s a lot cheaper than therapy. I’d also recommend that you join a gym: exercise is a natural mood-enhancer.
Of course I’m not a mental health professional. If you need the prescription version of anti-depressants, you get to discuss the meaning of lattes, cappuccinos and decaf with your therapist. Not me. I stick with midlife career strategy — more information here.
And if you choose the coffee shop because you need a caffeine fix, then I’m with Darlin, the New York Times writer. You’re not investing in anything: you’re buying coffee.