I've been thinking about kopi luwak, the Indonesian coffee beans that sell for $20 an ounce. These beans are supposed to taste great because -- and I'm not making this up -- they're deliciously fermented as they pass through the digestive system of the small, cat-like Asian palm civet.

There have been many times when I've been desperate for a cup of coffee, no matter where it came from, but I can honestly say I've never suffered the kind of java jitters that would prompt me to brew up the contents of an Indonesian litter box.

In fact, this whole notion leaves me with one nagging question for all of those kopi luwak harvesters, which is: "Haven't you guys heard about Starbucks?"

Perk up your savings

Now, I often mock what I call the "latte police" -- those financial advisers who blame all your financial woes on too many daily lattes, cappuccinos and espressos -- but the recent death of my office coffeemaker left a wake-up call for my wallet. While waiting for a replacement, I bought cafeteria coffee at $1.79 per cup, totaling nearly $27 a week.

This left just $13 for my other miscellaneous weekly spending. That got me out to buy a new coffeemaker pronto because I like my budget just like my coffee -- in the black.

The central tenet of the Mocha Mounties is that cutting out small, daily expenditures can add up to big money. To a certain extent, that's true: If I invested the $26.85 I spent on coffee each week in stocks, and received the S&P 500's historical annualized return of 9.87 percent, after 20 years I'd have more than $75,000.

I'd need that money, too, because after giving up coffee, I would oversleep, get fired and end up sleeping on a steam grate.

That java sounds jive

But while penny-pinching can add up, it's not as good as making a real financial plan that takes advantage of all your options, rather than just skipping your cafe au lait.

Let's say you make $50,000 a year, and you put 2.5 percent of your weekly pay -- about $24 -- into your company 401(k) plan. In many cases, the employer matches half of your contribution, giving you $36 a week to invest. After 20 years, you'd have nearly $106,000, or 40 percent more money, than if you had just given up coffee. And because your contribution is made before taxes, your take-home pay would shrink by only $17.56.

As for me, I'm saving a bundle each week with my new coffeemaker, but I won't be buying luxury coffee beans that come pre-processed from some Indonesian civet's digestive tract. Instead, I'm sticking with Caribou Coffee -- I just can't figure out how they get those caribou over to Indonesia.

(Brian J. O'Connor is an award-winning columnist for The Detroit News. Contact him at brian@funnymoneyblog.com.)