- April 20, 2019
- Bob Quinn
- Financial Planning
I enjoy a 6oz flat white. I buy one regularly from a coffee shop near the office. This is very irresponsible behaviour according to some so-called experts – what next, smashed avocado and poached eggs on sourdough? Heaven forbid!
To believe some of the blogs and articles on personal finance out there is to believe that my coffee habit is scuppering my chances of having a comfortable retirement. According to ‘personal finance guru’ Suze Orman, financial expert and best-selling author of “Women and Money”, I am missing out on a seven-figure sum.
Orman recently claimed on the CNBC personal finance blog Make It that if you were to save the money you typically spend on fancy coffee, you would amass a tidy sum that many people would be happy to retire on.
She is quoted as saying: “Let’s say you spend around $100 on coffee each month. If you were to put that $100 into a *Roth IRA instead, after 40 years the money would have grown to around $1 million with a 12 percent rate of return. Even with a seven percent rate of return, you’d still have around $250,000.” *A pretty standard US pension fund.
P**s off, Suze
There is no doubt that good habits are everything when it comes to personal finance, but can you imagine it – 40 years of depriving yourself from one of those little things that makes your day better? I don’t think so! Don’t get me wrong, everyone should save for retirement, magic of compound interest yada yada yada.
But do I need to lose the lattes? I’m not convinced.
–For a start, to achieve the million dollar fund she assumes an unrealistically high average rate of return – 12%! She’s bullshitting here to begin with – average stock market returns have been 6 – 8% long term. The subtract fees etc.
–Secondly, she doesn’t take inflation into account. The $1200 plus interest is not adjusted for inflation.
–Thirdly, it’s all relative. €3 per day on a nice coffee that I can’t make in the office (and no, even those fancy Nespresso machines can’t replicate a well-made barista coffee) may be one thousandth of my weekly salary, or it could be ten percent. Obviously in the latter case, the daily coffee takes on a whole new level of luxury.
Sweat the big things
I think where Orman and I fundamentally disagree is in this notion that making proper provision for our retirement is about years of deprivation. It shouldn’t be. Yes, it’s good to start planning early, but it’s the big things – your income, earning potential, living arrangements, your children, their education, your health – that you need to give thought to.
It’s all in the plan. On your radar. Nothing comes as a big surprise.
I hope you thoroughly enjoy your 6oz flat white.