From daily coffee to avocado toast: Comparing the cost of 25 spending habits

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December 20, 2019
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From daily coffee to avocado toast: Comparing the cost of 25 spending habits

Life can be expensive, and spending on daily and weekly luxuries—like getting a morning cup of joe on the go or conveniently withdrawing money from the ATM—quickly adds up. However, doing what's easy now can be difficult to pay for later. Investopedia reports the grave difference between discretionary vs. essential spending, calling out consumers for "wanting" something rather than "needing" it.

Take that daily joe on the go, for example. Millennials are spending more on coffee every day than on saving for retirement, according to a survey conducted by money app Acorn. Or that SoulCycle spin class, which can cost as much as a cheap car, and avocado toast at Saturday brunch that tallies as high as $4,745 annually. Not to mention the habitual hair blowout at $35 a week, totaling $1,820 every 365 days.

Either way, habit costs add up, which is why Stacker analyzed spending patterns and determined the average cost of each based on typical usage and costs across the country. Some spending habits, be it daily, weekly, or monthly, are a matter of necessity. While some consumers opt for regular toast that comes free with breakfast, others, like the residents of Flint, Michigan, are forced to spend on a daily bottle of water.

Overall, daily spending habits have placed a burden on the average budget, but there is hope for those who want to cut corners. Setting long-term financial goals, reducing the allowance for such expenditures, and using cash to pay can all help keep your mind on your money. Where there is a will there's a way. But if will power isn't necessarily an asset possessed, look at some ways to save a few extra dollars on the cost of daily spending habits, from coffee to avocado toast.

Read on to find out the comparison cost of 25 spending habits.

Coffeeshop coffee

- Typical cost: $3 per cup
- Total annual cost: $1,095

While wholesale coffee costs decline because of struggling Colombian and Brazilian farmers, consumer prices for a piping hot cup of java are going up. Add that to the 64% of Americans who drink coffee daily, and that is a lot of Benjamins going into the habit, which is all the more reason to brew a thermos to take on the go. If buying a cup can’t be avoided, look for special offers, hit up a gas station instead of Starbucks, or opt for a smaller size to save money.

Gym membership

- Typical cost: $30–200
- Total annual cost: $360–2,400

The cost of working out varies, with nonprofits like the YMCA offering more for the money than higher-scale gyms like Equinox or Lifetime Fitness. Not only does the YMCA cost less monthly, the annual membership, which offers access to community-wide programs, extends nationwide, enabling members to frequent facilities anywhere in the U.S.

SoulCycle class

- Typical cost: $32 per class
- Total annual cost: $11,680

Costs for a daily SoulCycle spin class can add up as fast as the bike pedals go, with classes costing about $32 a pop to ride yellow bikes in citrus-scented studios. In New York, Soul Early is now offered with SoulCycle classes, offering cyclers the option to book a bike and instructor early for $15, an almost 50% markup. Consider eliminating the number of sessions per week and going for a bike ride outside to save even more.


- Typical cost: $25 per 8 weekly loads for a family
- Total annual cost: $1,300

Having a washer and dryer is a luxury when you’re a family looking at having to pay for an average of eight loads a week at a laundromat. At home, average costs are 97 cents per load versus a laundromat at $3.12 per load. Then there is the up to one hour and 27 minutes it takes to do a load from wash to dry, keeping you tethered to the laundromat. Savings can be found simply by doing less laundry: Use towels twice and ask yourself if that pair of jeans is really in need of another wash. Doing one less load of laundry per week at the laundromat can save $162.24 per year.

Bar trips (3 beers a week)

- Typical cost: $15
- Total annual cost: $780

It's simple; don't drink as many beers at the bar to cut costs. Do the math: The price of one beer at a bar ($5) is roughly the same as an average six-pack. However, if having the out-of-house drinking experience in a dimly lit atmosphere is a must; then consider discount drinking during happy hour, or having only one or two beers instead. Add in that happy hours across America sometimes offer free appetizers, and now there is a free wing with that beer.

Nightly glass of wine

- Typical cost: $2.66 per glass ($16/bottle)
- Total annual cost: $970

Like all liquor, wine can be expensive, with some bottles costing thousands, and or even hundreds of thousands. Merely having one glass an evening totals almost $1,000 annually, which is why swirling less expensive wine can cut costs immediately. While the average red goes for $15.66, and white $14.41, buying boxed and blended wines trims the per-bottle price to $2.25. Making the nightly habit an every-other-evening luxury, and the cost drops again.

Daily lottery ticket

- Typical cost: $1–5
- Total annual cost: $365–1,825

The notion of becoming rich overnight, or even winning enough to pay for lunch, is an addiction. The lottery, which brings in billions in state funds annually, has become a source of regional revenue for local and state governments that see up to 37% of sales, with the other 63% going toward payout. One way to save some $365–1,825 in annual costs is to make the habit an every-other-day fixation, which, if observed prudently, can make the savings of not buying a ticket like winning the lottery.

Bottled water

- Typical cost: $1
- Total annual cost: $365

Before store-bought bottled water, carrying H2O cost nothing more than the reusable bottle it was poured into, but not today. The billion-dollar bottled water industry has some brands that begin at $5 per bottle and go as high as $100,000 with the Beverly Hills 90H20 Luxury Collection Diamond Edition. In areas with contaminated water such as Flint, Michigan, buying bottled water is the only way to consume the life source in some regions, making the spending habit a must.

Buying lunch

- Typical cost: $8–12
- Total annual cost: $1,920–2,880

The hint for the solution is right in the wording; buying lunch every day at work costs more than preparing it at home. However, if eliminating the daily habit is out of the question, then not spending as much on the mid-day meal is the next best way to cut costs. Seeking lunch specials and not getting that extra guacamole can make a difference, which when added up and saved can go toward important saving goals.

ATM withdrawal fees

- Typical cost: $2–5
- Total annual cost: $104–260

Accessing one's funds conveniently can add up, especially in underserved areas without connection to free/in-network ATMs. Since the average total ATM fee rose to $4.72 in 2019, taking out money at the gas station or drugstore is now an unaffordable habit for those on a strict or declining budget. The best way to avoid ATM fees is to use your debit card as much as possible, or plan and take out enough cash to cover multiple weeks to reduce frequenting the machine.

Overdraft fees

- Typical cost: $32.30 average fee per overdraft
- Total annual cost: $225

Not having enough money costs money, especially with overdraft fees rising 7.6% over the last six years. To reduce the total annual cost of $225 in overdraft fees, don’t overspend, opt-out of coverage, assure automatic withdrawals are covered, set up low-balance alerts, link to another account, or deposit money immediately after the insolvency takes place. If all else fails, call your bank and complain.

Pack-a-day cigarette habit

- Typical cost: $6.90 per pack
- Total annual cost: $2,520

The average cost for a pack of cigarettes across all 50 states varies, with Missouri and Virginia charging just $5.25 on average and New York’s average floating around $12.85 ($13 or more in New York City). To save money, some smokers roll their own cigarettes. A pack-a-day habit can be more than halved depending on the tobacco and paper used. The other option is to reduce the pack-a-day pattern to half-a-pack or to zero, which will literally cut the annual cost in half—or remove it entirely.

Vape pens

- Typical cost: $50 initial cost, $30–60 for refills/replacements
- Total annual cost: $410-770

Because of the recent vaping crisis, some smokers are drenching or throwing out their vape pens while others are simply smoking again, but those who continue the daily habit are paying a minimum of $410 annually. The only way to reduce the cost of smoking a vape pen is to not pull from it as often, making refills last longer. And when waiting to inhale becomes too much, chew a piece of gum or eat a mint to hold off for a few more minutes.

Avocado toast

- Typical cost: $7–13 per meal in major cities
- Total annual cost: $2,555–4,745

For those who have high-priced taste buds, a weekly order of avocado toast can cost up to almost $5,000 annually, depending on where you live. One way to reduce the cost of the craving is making it at home or just enjoy the free toast (albeit without avocado) that comes with the entrée. The only other way to reduce the price is to eat less of it, making it a bi-weekly treat rather than every Sunday.

Friday date night

- Typical cost: $40–100 weekly for two
- Total annual cost: $2,080–5,200

Eliminating pricey restaurants is the first and simplest way to cut costs for Friday date night. Other ways to curtail the habit is to skip the appetizer or dessert every other week and choose house liquor rather than top-shelf. Lastly, a way to avoid the high cost of weekend evening dining is to turn Friday date night into Saturday lunch to save money, and then put that extra cash into a piggy bank.

Ordering in

- Typical cost: $20–50 weekly for two
- Total annual cost: $1,040–2,600

Cooking at home is five times less expensive than ordering from a local restaurant, and a great way to save money instead of spending more than $1,000 annually ordering in for two. Even adopting an every-other-week ordering strategy immediately trims that expenditure in half. If time and convenience are of the essence, opt for pickup over delivery, look for meal deals, and search for coupons to cut costs when you absolutely have to order in.

Meal-delivery kits

- Typical cost: $47.95 weekly for two meals serving two
- Total annual cost: $2,493.4

Over 10 million American households used a meal-delivery kit in 2017, enjoying the convenience of prepackaged ingredients, meal variety, and quick cleanup. Blue Apron, one of the leaders in the industry, costs $60 per week for three meals of two servings each, breaking down to $9.99 for each individual meal. Reducing the number of meals delivered each week and preparing less expensive meals at home are the best ways to save.

Cable subscription

- Typical cost: $64.41 per month
- Total annual cost: $773

Several factors go into the $64.41 Americans pay on average for a monthly cable subscription, with the package, equipment needed, and the cable provider all contributing to the price. Nearly 25 million Americans cut the cord from cable TV in 2017, choosing instead to rely on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon to fulfill their viewing needs. If cable is a necessity, try opting for a lower-tier package, eliminating lesser-used cable boxes and equipment, or call your cable company and negotiate a lower price to save some extra money.

Streaming services

- Typical cost: $8.99–15.99 per month
- Total annual cost: $108–192

Sitting and viewing streaming services has become such a part of American culture that Oxford added the word “binge-watch” to the dictionary in 2018. The largest of the streaming services, Netflix, boasts over 150 million subscribers worldwide with a subscription near $13, while HBO Now runs $14.99 per month. Competition from other providers like Amazon, Hulu, Apple, and Disney have given consumers more options for their binging desires. Paying attention to special offers, buying products that come with a year of streaming included, referring friends, and asking about loyalty rates can all help save on streaming.

Credit card balance/interest

- Typical cost: Average debt $9,333 with 13.4% interest
- Total annual cost: $1,250

Over 41% of American households have some kind of credit card debt, with an average of $9,333, the country's credit card debt is approximately $3.9 trillion. Interest rates have steadily climbed over time, from a low of 11.87% in 2014 to 13.64% in 2018. Paying more than the minimum monthly payment, renegotiating debt total, and transferring balances to a card with a lower interest rate are all options for saving with credit cards. 


- Typical cost: $8
- Total annual cost: $2,920

On average, women use about 16 products on their face alone before leaving the house for the day, from face wash and toner to lipstick and mascara, translating to nearly $300,000 throughout a lifetime. Location matters, with ladies in Connecticut and New York spending $11 per day, while Utah natives shell out the least at $4.50. To save money on makeup, try scaling back on beauty products, searching online for deals on your favorite brands (eBay has a lot of brand-new, popular brands at deep discounts), getting free samples, or volunteering as a product tester. Even trimming $2 off a daily routine creates over $700 in annual savings. 


- Typical cost: varies
- Total annual cost: $708-1,440

Location has a lot to do with how much it costs to put gas in a vehicle annually, from $708 in New York to $1,441 in Wyoming. Public transportation is a great way to save money, something Americans did 34 million times each weekday in 2018. For the 45% of the population that doesn’t have access to public transportation, riding a bike more frequently, or buying a hybrid or electric car can virtually eliminate the need to pay at the pump altogether. If you absolutely need your car, make sure it’s in good running shape with properly inflated tires to help increase gas mileage.   

Newspaper subscription

- Typical cost: $1.40 per paper
- Total annual cost: $510

The decline in print advertising over the past decade has forced publishers to double the price consumers pay for their daily paper to preserve journalism jobs. While many Americans consider newspapers among the best sources for local news, there are some ways to save when reading about your community. Looking for special offers, extending your subscription, sharing with a neighbor, or reading newspapers at the local library can reduce expenses without cutting days. 

Weekly blow out

- Typical cost: $35
- Total annual cost: $1,820

There are dangers in getting your hair blown out more than once per week, not to mention the cost of having hair professionally washed, dried, and styled can add up fast. Save money and time by either going to the salon for a blowout less often or doing it completely at home. There are some initial setup costs, including buying a blow dryer, hair-care products, and a few brushes, but even an expensive blow dryer will pay for itself in a matter of months.

Monthly haircut

- Typical cost: $10–100
- Total annual cost: $120–1,200

The cost of a monthly haircut depends on several factors, including hair length, type of styling, and where it gets cut, plus any add-ons, like coloring or extensions. There are several ways to trim costs on your new 'do, like checking online for coupons, choosing a chain over a salon, or asking for a junior stylist. For trusting types, free services can be found through local cosmetology schools, who offer free cuts as often as once a week; salons that perform after-hours demos; and there's always cutting it at home yourself. 

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