How Coffee Led Us to FIRE

How Coffee Led Us to FIRE

In an attempt to shed some light on our personal story, I wanted to post these brief summaries of my past (both individually and together with my wife) as it pertains to finances. This is the third post in the series.

When I was growing up, after a certain age, we were allowed to drink “pop” (or “soda” for you non-Western Pennsylvanians). It wasn’t shoved down our throats, but it was available in the house, and I drank a lot of it when left to my own devices. In college, conscious of my weight, I switched to a one calorie version of a popular soft drink. I had tried coffee early in college, and while it did the trick, it really just turned my stomach – so “diet” pop was my go-to for caffeine for a good number of years.

A few years back I began having health issues, which only seemed to go away when I cut the artificial sweeteners out of my diet, thus I switched back to the full calorie version of my favorite brand of pop, even though I really didn’t like the taste of it anymore. Not long after, my wife and I took a run at doing the South Beach diet, so even the once-daily can of pop had to go.

I tried to switch back to coffee, I even tried sweeteners and chilling the coffee after it was brewed, since I determined that the temperature of the drink was what was making me feel sick. Then out of nowhere I decided to try this very new (at the time) trend called “cold brew coffee” so I repurposed a french press that we had at home and made cold brew for myself. It was amazing, I LOVED it! Coffee that – without the heat and bitterness of normal hot brewed coffee – was so tasty and smooth, that it didn’t need any sweeteners at all.

The company that I worked for at the time would get locally roasted really good coffee for the big commercial coffee makers at work, so everytime they got a new variety in I would take an ounce or so home and make cold brew out of it. I figured “Hey I am drinking it at work anyways”. Eventually I found a variety and roast level that I liked and began purchasing it myself. A year or so passed, and this new routine started to become a wee bit too expensive for my liking. My task now was to find a way to make my newfound vice affordable.

My wife mentioned that they sold coffee in bulk at Costco for a pretty decent price – “Colombian Supremo Whole Bean” – 3 lbs for $15.00. As any citizen of the digital age does, I absentmindedly googled “is costco coffee good?” – which led me to this post. My original quest for coffee budgeting forgotten, I dove headfirst into The Frugalwoods’ blog.

Excited as if I had just discovered craft beer for the first time, I mentioned the website to a coworker, and he said “Oh yeah that’s a lot like Mr. Money Mustache”. Hungry for more tales of people beating the normal “9-to-5, work until you’re 65” routine, I binged my way through MMM as well.

The Frugalwoods’ quest to move to a homestead in Vermont wasn’t exactly what my wife and I had talked about as our dream, but we both had aspirations to eventually move somewhere a bit more rural and spend more time outside. Mr Money Mustache’s achievement of retiring by 30 and BEFORE having children was also unavailable to us as well, we were both over 30 and already had three kids.

However the strategies that they had used to achieve their goals were things that we could apply to our own lives. The first and easiest place to cut back was TV – we had been on the edge of cutting cable for a while, and this pushed us over the edge. Once our favorite hockey team was out of the playoffs, we would cancel our cable plan – we really only watched hockey, baseball and the occasional HGTV shows anymore anyways.

Over the next few days, I began taking my spreadsheet-ery to new levels. After running the numbers, I knew that our biggest savings would come from changing our plans to buy a more expensive house in a better school district. Armed with the beginnings of a new plan, we felt a lot more confident in our financial future, but we were still totally unprepared for the curveball that life was about to throw at us.


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