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When is a Cup of Coffee Worth $37,000?

Aug 18, 2007
I was standing in line at the local doughnut shop waiting, like tens of other people, for a chance to order a coffee. I couldn't help but overhear a conversation in front of me about how terrible it was because these people in the doughnut shop who worked so hard, were actually making money. "It's because they have big money behind them," was some of the chatter I heard. The conclusion was, I guess, it takes money to make money.

The guy directly in front of me was part of the conversation and seemed to agree with the above conclusion. He told me he worked with a guy who just sold a stock for $37,000 profit. Then he said, "He must have had money to begin with."

I probably didn't sound too sympathetic to his point of view when I made the comment, "maybe we stop here too much." He sighed and then explained, "well I do stop by doughnut shops 3 or 4 times a day, but it's my $1,600 mortgage payment every month and the ridiculous gas prices that are stopping me from being able to invest in stocks. How are you going to make money with all these people getting rich off you all the time? "

At this point, he had no idea I disagreed with his point of view. I continued the small talk by asking him how long it would be before his mortgage was paid off. He blurted back, "Paid off! I just got past the first two years!"

By this time, we had edged our way up to the counter where I ordered my large black decaf. I did notice he had bought $14 worth of coffee and doughnuts, which seems like a lot for somebody who is down and out but, then again, I realize coffee and doughnuts are a necessary part of life.

Not only do I disagree with the prevailing doughnut shop idea that you need money to make money, but the guy I was conversing with seemed to believe when someone else makes money, it makes it more difficult for him to make any money, like $37,000, for instance. So, I pretended I was his financial adviser and went to work to see if there may, have been a way for him to make $37,000.

To this point, here's what I had learned:

My large black decaf cost me $1.90. Actually, it cost me $2 because I dropped the extra 10 cents into the tip jar.

I know my new, negative thinking, coffee sipping friend had been paying $1,600 a month for his mortgage. Probably, some part of that $1,600 was escrow. So, I estimated the escrow portion of his monthly payment to be $270, which would make his principal and interest payment $1,330.

From my conversation with him, I found out he had 28 years left on his mortgage. I had to guess what his interest rate was, but I know that two years ago there were a lot of mortgages being closed at 7.25%.

From that information, I was able to calculate that his current mortgage principal was a little over $191,000.

From there, I calculated that if he were to pay an extra $60 a month with his mortgage payment he would save $37,435.14 in interest over the term of his mortgage.

The significance of the $60 is that it amounts to one less coffee a day. I'm not advocating anyone become a miser, but I would like to make the point this would not be a case where it took big money to make $37,000. It really would only take a coffee a day.

I know it would take a long time for $37,000 in interest savings to be realized. However, another thing to consider is his mortgage would be paid off 41 payments sooner than it would be if he hadn't kicked in an extra coffee a day toward his mortgage payment. 41 payments times $1,330 equals $54,530.

This is money he would be able to save above and beyond the $37,000 interest savings. If he then put the $1,330 each month into a savings account with a modest interest rate, after the 41 months he would have over $60,000 in this account.

Since he told me that he made several trips a day to doughnut shops, I thought maybe he could cut out two coffees a day. If he did, he would save $64,172.30 in mortgage interest.

In addition, if he went this route, his mortgage would be paid off 72 payments sooner. So, he certainly would be able to save a substantial amount of money within those 72 months, because he would have an extra $1,330 each of those months to put aside.

I must stress, I have nothing against coffee, and I buy it all the time. Also, I realize 28 years is a long time to wait to finally make money. I just want to set the record straight. It doesn't take money to make money. It takes desire, a plan and perseverance.

Many years ago, someone taught me one of the most important things I've ever learned. A wealthy, elderly gentleman said to me, "take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves." Unfortunately, too many of us have never learned this lesson.

The lesson I've learned by myself through the years is you can't make money if you're too busy complaining about other people making money. The USA is full of people who were born penniless and are now millionaires, and one of the great things about it is they're welcome to spend some of their money in the most modest of doughnut shops.

So, the next time you're in a crowded doughnut shop or any crowded place for that matter, there will probably be at least one or two of these self-made success stories in your midst.

Now, think about it, if not just one or two, but every one of these people in this crowd was loaded with money, could that have any negative effect on you? Or, if they all went broke, could that help you at all?

Sure, there is such a thing as luck and it's wise to take stock of what you have and don't have from time to time, but in the end, your financial situation is up to you.
About the Author
Ed Lathrop is a successful Real Estate investor. He has developed EzCalculator, a Mortgage Calculator that calculates anything to do with mortgages, shows you how to pay off credit card debt and much more. EzCalculator includes the famous How to Make $100,000 on Your Mortgage calculator. There are no popups or spyware at this site. Come visit this free site at Free Mortgage Calculator!
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