Kevin O'Leary Calls Store-Bought Coffee a Waste of Money. Should You Stop Buying It?

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  • Shark Tank's Kevin O'Leary isn't a fan of paying a premium for coffee.
  • While giving up store-bought coffee makes sense for some people, you don't have to rush to cut that expense just yet.
  • It's okay to spend money on things you enjoy in the course of wisely managing your finances.

It may be time to stop the assault on coffee once and for all.

Kevin O'Leary is coming for my coffee, and I'm taking it personally. Well, okay, not really -- namely, because Mr. O'Leary and I have never met, and also, because his advice about giving up store-bought coffee was not necessarily directed at me.

But in a CNBC interview, Shark Tank's O'Leary expressly said that store-bought coffee is "such a waste of money." He then referenced the fact that coffee can be made at home for pennies, at which point you can put it in a travel mug and bring it to work if you happen to report to an office. And in light of that, he thinks paying several dollars for a store-bought cup makes little sense.

As someone who spends her fair share of money on store-bought coffee, I have, in the past, wondered if I should try to kick that habit. After all, instead of buying coffee, I could be putting hundreds of dollars a year into my savings account. Or, I could stick that money into my brokerage account and invest it, thereby growing it into a larger sum.

But every time I've thought about giving up store-bought coffee, I've wanted to cry. And so I won't give up what's become a treat I look forward to on a daily basis. And if you're doing just fine financially, neither should you.

It's all about striking a balance

Any time you spend money on a non-essential expense, you could guilt yourself into thinking it's a bad idea. After all, why treat yourself to a $30 takeout order when that money could go into your IRA, or into the bank?

But that's really not a healthy way to live. And while it's true that coffee happens to be one of those things that's very inexpensive to make at home, the reality is that store-bought coffee, to me, tastes way better. And if you feel the same, and you can afford that coffee, then there's no reason to give it up.

Note the caveat there, though. If you're not doing well in the savings department, for example, then you may want to skip or scale back on store-bought coffee until your cash reserves look more robust (especially since you never know when an unplanned bill might pop up). And if you're carrying costly credit card debt, then it really does make sense to prioritize getting it paid off -- even if that means giving up store-bought coffee for a bit of time.

In fact, O'Leary says you should especially stop spending money on things like store-bought coffee if you have debt hanging over your head. Paying off debt, he insists, is key to financial stability and success, and I definitely agree.

But if your financial house is in order, then as far as I'm concerned, your store-bought coffee habit can stay. And that's not something you should feel bad about, either.

There's no sense in working hard if you can't enjoy your money to some degree. And if you're making decent progress on other goals, then you should feel free to spend on little things that bring you joy.

A habit I won't give up

Not only does my store-bought coffee make me happy, but it also genuinely helps me be more productive at my job. And so it's easy enough for me to justify that purchase.

Now if you're behind on building savings or need to pay off debt, you may want to start spending less on non-essential items. But that doesn't automatically mean your store-bought coffee is toast. You can try cutting another expense if your morning beverage is that important to you (and if it is, I'm with you).

All told, Kevin O'Leary means well with his advice. It's important to do what you can to pay off debt, and it's important to recognize the extent to which you're overpaying for indulgences so you can decide if they're really worth it. But if you determine that you need your store-bought coffee in your life, don't rush to stop buying it -- at least not before you assess other options.

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