Fight Finals Spending Habits, Buy in Bulk


Ed Gregory

By Mark Mulkeen

As finals approach, your lifestyle tends to change; your apartment gets a little dirtier, the sink begins to fill up, there’s a weird smell coming from the fridge but you can’t pinpoint what exactly is causing it, and your supply of clean laundry becomes frighteningly low. Okay, that’s what finals are like for me, but I doubt I’m alone, and if you’re anything like me you begin to eat takeout more frequently and lazily buy more coffee on campus. This is something that usually comes with finals, so we often just accept it as a part of grinding through the last part of the semester. The only problem with that way of thinking is the spending that stacks up because of it (and maybe decreased fitness but I am DEFINITELY not qualified to write about that.)

In all likelihood, finals are either fast approaching or have already begun for you. It may require more effort to do so during finals, but it’s important to still remember the saving power of buying more in bulk and less on Forbes. There are lots of ways to stress this importance, but in the spirit of finals, I’m going to demonstrate it with something I consume more of during finals: coffee, the thing this article is powered by.

To demonstrate the most cost-effective way to drink coffee, I’m going to use the same brand – Dunkin’ Donuts – for the three most common types of coffee consumption: by the cup, by the k-cup, and by the pot.

A small cup of coffee at the Dunkin’ on Forbes is 10 fluid ounces and costs $1.70. That same location also sells both 12-count k-cup packages and one-pound bags of grounds for $8.99.

For the sake of comparison, I’m going to assume I drink one 10 oz. cup of coffee per day for 30 days. The 30-day total of buying a cup everyday is easy. Paying $1.70 on 30 occasions brings me to a grand total of $51.00. But there has to be a cheaper option, right?

Let’s try the Kuerig. Deciding to buy k-cup packages as needed leads to a per cup price of 75 cents. 30 occurrences of k-cup consumption leads to a monthly price of $22.48, a significantly cheaper option than buying by the cup. However, using a Kuerig is nowhere near the best way to save money on coffee.

Using a coffee pot and grounds leads to a per cup price of 31 cents, and 30 occurrences of coffee pot consumption leads to a bargain monthly total of $9.36, proving that despite being the oldest of the three methods of coffee consumption, a coffeepot and grounds remains by far the cheapest way to drink coffee. Some things just never change. This argument for buying in bulk may seem counterintuitive, but most of us go through finals buying by the cup without giving commonsense consumer habits a thought. Clearly however, taking a second to do so can lead to significant savings. And if you’re someone who buys by the cup all year long (me during my first two years of college), those savings stack up to become even more significant.

So what am I missing here? Well, there is the fixed cost of actually buying a coffeemaker if you don’t already own one, however, a coffeemaker is very cheap; a generic one (and you do not need more than that) can usually be found for $20 or less, and filter paper is dirt cheap. Even after all those costs, you’re still saving heavily over buying by the cup.

The reality is that I’ve likely understated the possible savings of buying in bulk. If you’re like me, you probably drink more than one cup a day during finals, and do not kick the coffee habit after finals have ended. This increased level of consumption only leads to even greater bulk savings. Additionally, Dunkin’ is not even on the cheaper side of coffee grounds. Some of the more economic brands (Maxwell House, Folgers, etc.) can increase savings even further.

The reality is that you’ll probably still find yourself on campus buying some cups of coffee, but making a concerted effort to brew at home (an easy process) can save from breaking the bank on studying. And don’t just stop at coffee; take time to actually think about all the takeout you are buying. It’s okay to give up and get takeout sometimes, and it’s even acceptable at an increased rate during finals, but just being cognizant of your habits and trying to improve them is a significant step towards increased savings. I’m going to try to slow my spending this finals season, and I challenge you to join me.

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