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The Importance of a Coffee a Day

The biggest struggle for any college student is money. This may not seem like a surprise to most, but the kind of money I’m talking about isn’t the rent, the loans, or the textbooks; it’s the small stuff. How is it that the minute I step onto campus, I can barely afford a cup of coffee? What once was a simple luxury on a Friday morning in high school is now my greatest financial burden.

The reason I claim that a caffeinated beverage is the root of my problems is because there is a certain amount of guilt that comes with it. When I purchase a pump of vanilla, I’m also adding on a pump of regret at times. Whether it’s $2 latte happy hour at Dunkin or a $4.50 macchiato at Starbucks, these purchases add up.

However, I love iced coffee. Although I have now compared a cold brew to my college tuition, I would like to state that these personal investments are worth it. I have learned when I’m on my way to class in the morning, sometimes that grande iced latte really does just put that extra pep in my step. I realized in the midst of my “I’m a broke college student, now what?” breakdown last year that there are some leisurely costs we simply cannot live without, they are vital to our everyday functioning.

My junior year of high school, my Algebra teacher made us do a project to learn about exponential growth and decay. She had us observe one regular purchase we were making and see how much money we spend on it in a year, then 5 years…you get the idea. I chose to calculate the amount I would spend on iced coffee in that time period. Although I cannot remember the specific value I discovered from this project 3 years ago, I can tell you it was overwhelming to say the least. In the end, my teacher had us evaluate our spendings and asked if we were willing to give them up. I said no. I said no because I was able to evaluate the value of this investment in my life.

I have come to realize that buying my morning coffee has become part of my routine. My routine is something amid the chaos of my social life, work schedule, and academic stress that keeps me stable. Buying a cup of iced coffee has been built into my schedule in a way that cannot be replaced. For me, it is a sign that my day is going to run productively. When I wake up and can stop in the line at Starbucks to get a drink, it means I woke up on time and got ready so I could make sure I did something for myself that day. The importance of a routine helps keep structure in life. If there is a cost of structure, so be it, it keeps us sane.  

So think about what makes your day run smoothly and if you’re willing to give it up. From observing how much this daily purchase impacts my day I have realized I should not associate it with guilt. I can guarantee you that once you take a moment to evaluate these small steps to make your day run smoothly, you will realize it’s okay to spend a little for yourself.  

Katie Hinkle is currently a sophomore at Penn State studying Public Relations. She is actively involved in Greek life on campus as well as Penn State THON. In her spare time, she also works part time as a photographer and enjoys participating in local community service.
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