Free Coffee for Life: An Introduction to Financial Independence

In the early days of the internet, before Kickstarter and Patreon, creatives used virtual ‘tip jars’ to earn money online.

‘Buy me a coffee’ many of these buttons encouraged.

But there’s another way to keep yourself supplied with coffee – or any beverage of your choice. One which doesn’t rely on donations.

Fair warning: this module involves some maths. But it’s the fun kind of maths – the kind that shows you how you can be free of the need to work for money as much (or even, at all), and how you can have the freedom to devote more time and energy to your creative work.

To make it even easier, we’re going to use really simple numbers, but you’ll find more detail at the end.

So grab a coffee (or your choice of beverage!) and settle in!

Got your coffee?

Although you might have opted for something else here (Green tea? Apple juice? Glass of wine?) let’s use coffee as an example.

Coffee is a pretty important beverage in most cultures. It can help you feel more energised. It’s a social lubricant. Many a relationship – personal and professional – has stated with someone suggesting coffee. Coffee can even be used as a form of currency.

But today, in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee, you’ll learn how you can get free coffee for life – without setting up a tip jar of your own.

How did you get your coffee?

Depending on where you are and the circumstances you’re in, you might have had a few choices.

Maybe you spent $4 or $5 on getting a coffee made for you at Starbucks or the like.

Or, maybe you made a cup of coffee yourself. While much cheaper, it still costs money to make your own.

But we’re talking about a free lifetime supply.

The secret of free coffee for life

If you want free coffee for life, there are three steps you need to undertake.

Step 1: Reduce the cost

If you bought your coffee ready-made, obviously the first step is to start making your own.

And, if you added sugar or milk or creamer, you can save even more by reducing or eliminating these additives (as well as potentially improving your health!)

So let’s assume that you’re drinking black coffee, or if you don’t already, that you’re going to move this way, weaning yourself off the milk and sugar etc. (Naturally, you can pick whatever level of coffee frugality you’re comfortable with, but we’ll use this as an example).

Perhaps you could buy a jar of coffee for $20, $10, $4, or even $2 each of which gives you around 50 coffees. That’s a cost of 40c, 20c, 8c, or just 4c compared to $4 for the store-bought drink.

Any of these represents a massive saving, but let’s go for the second-cheapest in our example. We want to maximise our savings, while still enjoying life!

You buy a $4 jar of coffee, and make yourself a coffee.

So far, you haven’t actually saved any money. You were going to spend $4 on Starbucks or whatever, but now you’ve spent $4 on a jar of coffee.

But the next time – later that day, or the next day – instead of buying another $4 coffee, you have a FREE COFFEE. And this happens over and over again.

That jar of coffee that cost you $4 will give you 49 “free” coffees and save you $196.

While these coffees aren’t truly free yet (if you divide the total cost of the jar, they work out to about 8c each) the next two steps will get us there. Stick with me!

Step 2: Invest the difference

Remember that $196 you saved? Imagine if you invested it.

If you buy one or two $4 coffees a day (50 per month), that’s $200 a month. Or $2,400 a year.

If you start making your own instead, in a year, you will have saved $2,352.

If you invested that money in an account that pays 3%, you would earn $32.61 on your balance by the end of the year. That’s $32 of completely free money.

Step 3: Use your earnings to offset your costs

So the following year, you could use that $32 to buy 8 jars of coffee. For NOTHING. So in the second year, rather than purchasing 12 jars of coffee out of your own pocket, you only have to spend $10 on two.

By the end of this second year, if you keep saving that $196 per month, you will have $4,704 in the bank ($2352 from the first year, + $2352 from the second).

Now this is where the magic happens. Instead of getting $32.61 in interest, you now get $104.15.

This means that in the third year, you will be able to get ALL of your coffees for free ($104.15 – $48 = $56.15). And you will STILL have money left over. That is PURE PROFIT.

The remaining $56, you can spend on anything. Like some biscuits to go with your coffee. One of my favorites, cream filled wafers, cost only 66c a packet. You could buy a pack per week and STILL have $22 of profit left over. Or splash out and have a more luxurious pack of chocolate biscuits every so often. For FREE.

Or perhaps you’d like to go to Starbucks FOR FREE. You could afford to once a month just on the interest earned and not pay a dime out of your own pocket, whilst still enjoying the same number of home made coffees.

From coffee to freedom

The best bit is, you can apply this method to anything. Want free bread for life? Swap out your $7 loaf for an 99c one, or start baking your own. Want free toothpaste? Ditch your $9 tube for a $1 one. Save the difference, invest it, and use the profits to pay your costs. Want to get there faster? Don’t just save the difference – save all the money you possibly can, and invest it wisely.

In essence, this is how you buy your financial freedom. Little by little. Start with coffee. Then move on to something like a phone bill.


Click here to visit Enrichmentality and download your own spending plan (along with many other free resources!)

Can anyone do it?

If you have a low income, and a lot of responsibilities (a sick partner, young children, parents who need looking after) complete financial freedom may not be attainable, either just yet, or ever. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a style of financial independence that is right for you. Most of us can make small changes like this that make a big difference.

{The fine print}

For the record, the average cost of a coffee in Melbourne at time of writing was between $3.50 and $4.50, averaging around $3.98. A black coffee from Starbucks is slightly cheaper, at $3.20 AUD, but a latte or a cappuccino will cost you more. The worldwide average for a grande cup of black coffee I calculated using figures for the 18 ‘Starbucked’ countries surveyed by Hopes&Fears, is around $3.80 USD. Using their exchange rate, this comes out to around $4.88 AUD. So to make it simple, I’m calling it $4.

As for jars of coffee, I used prices from one of Australia’s biggest supermarkets, where the cheapest jar came in at $3.70 for 200g ($1.85 per 100g). But because I imagine few people will want to jump straight from bought coffee to the cheapest jar, I’ve allowed for a more expensive jar – $4 per 100g. There were two choices available at this price point. Seeing as I used the online store, which is often more expensive, it’s quite possible that you could find a better deal in person, especially if you look out for catalogue specials, or if you buy in bulk. The recommended number of servings is based on the jar label.

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