February 7, 2019

A New Way to Save Money with McCafé Mobile Rewards

I’m Jessica and I’m a money expert, speaker, Accredited Financial Counsellor Canada®, host of the More Money Podcast, and am currently writing my first book with HarperCollins Canada (2025).
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This post is sponsored by McDonald’s Canada. All views and opinions expressed represent my own.

The "Latte Factor" is real, but coffee isn't the problem. It's not something you have to give up. It's about finding balance with your spending. Here's how to find that balance.I don’t care what anybody says, the “Latte Factor” is real! I remember first learning about the “Latte Factor” in David Bach’s 2004 best-selling book The Automatic Millionaire when I was a broke 20-year-old. It’s a classic read, so if you haven’t read it yet, go get it! There are so many great gems in his book, but the “Latte Factor” has always stuck with me all these years.

If you’re not familiar with the “Latte Factor,” it’ simply a way to describe how small daily purchases can add up to a big amount after a long period of time. The example in the book is that if you bought a $5 latte every day, after a year you’d have spent $1,825 on lattes. Yes, you read that right.

$5 x 365 days = $1,825

Think of all the amazing things you could have done with that money instead, like go on an all-inclusive trip to Mexico, pay off a big chunk of your student debt, or invest it for retirement.

What Experts Used to Say You Should Do to Fight  the “Latte Factor”

When David Bach’s book came out, all those O.G. money experts came out in droves telling people that the only way to stop this mindless consumerism was to stop cold turkey. No more daily coffees, we all needed to stop spending on “luxuries” and instead focus all our efforts on paying down debt and living as frugally as possible.

This may sound a bit extreme, but this is exactly the type of messaging I remember getting from TV and the news in the early 2000s. Do you know how that messaging made me feel? Not good, I’ll tell you that. For the 3.5 years, I lived in Vancouver before moving to Toronto, I only allowed myself to buy one coffee every two weeks on payday as a treat. Anything outside of that, I felt extreme guilt about.

Looking back, I realize that guilt and shame about spending were not helpful at all. You should feel good about your money! You shouldn’t feel like you’ve let yourself down because you bought a coffee when your friend asked you if you wanted to take a coffee break but it wasn’t payday!

Buying a Coffee Isn’t Really About Buying a Coffee

Fast-forward to 2 years ago and my coffee buying strategy took a major turn. Instead of feeling ashamed for buying a coffee once every two weeks, I was buying a coffee almost every day when working my corporate job in downtown Toronto. Instead, I felt like I deserved it. I didn’t feel shame, I felt entitled to do whatever I wanted with my money.

You see, for so many years I deprived myself. And what happens when you deprive yourself for too long? You binge!

As you can guess, I spent a ton of money on coffee…and lunches, clothes, shoes, makeup (you get the picture).

Once, I left the corporate world to work for myself and started working one-on-one with financial counseling clients, I realized the big thing I was lacking was balance.

Buying coffee isn’t really about buying coffee. It’s about taking a break to relax and reflect. It’s about spending quality time with a friend or co-worker. It’s about enjoying your hard-earned money on something that brings you joy for a moment.

Finding Balance with the “Latte Factor”

As I previously mentioned, the “Latte Factor” is absolutely real. Small daily purchases can add up to a big amount after a period of time, and that’s something we need to be more conscious of. But, the solution isn’t to deprive ourselves. The solution is to find some balance between our budgets and those small little joys in life.

For instance, I still love to buy myself a to-go coffee. Yes, even though I work from home, I love to leave the house and buy myself a coffee as a treat. That being said, I’ve got a new strategy so I can enjoy a coffee guilt-free while still being mindful of my budget:

  • I limit my takeout coffee to 2-3 times per week.
  • I usually don’t spend more than $2 on coffee, which is why one of my frequent takeout coffee spots is McDonald’s.
  • I always participate in a rewards program to get free coffees!

How to Save Money with McCafé Mobile Rewards

Now you know my coffee-buying strategy, and why I’m partnering with McDonald’s to share that they’ve just launched their McCafé Mobile Rewards. You’re probably already familiar with their McCafé Rewards program where you get a sticker on your coffee to put on your coffee card. Once you’ve ordered 7 coffees, you get the 8th free.

Well, now you can collect digital “stickers” with the purchase of any size hot beverage on the My McD’s app. To me, this is great because I have a bad habit of losing those coffee cards with only a few coffees to go. I actually have one in my wallet right now that I’m so close to completing!

How the McCafé Mobile Rewards program works is if you buy a coffee at a McDonald’s, all you have to do is scan your McCafé Mobile Rewards QR Code available in your McD’s app in a restaurant, at the drive-thru, or at the kiosk.

To show you what I mean, here’s a quick tutorial.

If you forget to scan your QR code, you can still save the sticker on your coffee cup and save up rewards that way using your physical coffee card.

If you want something a bit more automatic, you’ll earn mobile “stickers” automatically when you buy through the McD’s app.

Breaking Down the Numbers

So, how do I save money by participating in this rewards program? Let’s break down the numbers!

Let’s say I buy 2 coffees per week, and I always buy a medium size coffee that costs me $1.77 each time (that’s the cost of the coffee plus Ontario HST).

Over the course of 1 year, I would have purchased 104 coffees for a total of $184.08. But, since every 8th coffee is free, I would have saved $23.01, reducing my total cost to $161.07.

2 coffees per week x 52 weeks in a year = 104 coffees

$1.77 (medium coffee plus HST) x 104 coffees = $184.08

$184.08 / 8 (8th coffee is free) = $23.01 in savings

$184.08 – $23.01 = $161.07 is the cost of 104 McDonald’s coffee over the course of a year using the McCafé Mobile Rewards program.

How much do you spend on coffee every month? What do you do to ensure you don’t succumb to the “Latte Factor”? Share in the comments!

Disclosure: Nothing on my website or affiliated channels should be considered advice or an endorsement, and some content may include affiliate links in which I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Please read my disclaimer to learn more.

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  1. Caitlin says:

    A great article Jessica, thank you! The Latte Factor is for sure real, but it doesn’t need to have so much guilt and shame attached to it – we just need to be aware of it. It is incredible how much money we spend without realizing it. After reading blogs and listening to podcasts I decided to start tracking these “tiny” everyday expenses, and holy cow, it hurt to look at the monthly results!
    I started a small blog to hold myself accountable with my spending (my post right before coming to read your blog this morning was about my first job at McDonald’s – good timing!) and it’s managed to keep my coffee spending in check for the better part of a month, saving me about $75!
    Great to read a Canadian perspective from you (I’m living in a suburb of Vancouver), I look forward to your podcasts every week.

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