In my investment classes, I tell my students that any woman can become an investor—and in the process put herself on the road to financial security—simply by putting aside as little as $50 a month. Invariably, someone in the audience will raise her hand at this point and say, “David, I’m living paycheck to paycheck. I’m in debt, and I’m barely making it. I don’t have this $50 a month you keep talking about.”

One day I challenged just such a young woman on her assertion that she didn’t have enough money to invest. Deborah was 23 years old and worked at an advertising agency. She wasn’t being paid a whole lot, and she insisted there was no way she possibly could put $50 a month into her retirement plan at work. As she put it, she was “dead broke and destitute.” So I asked her to take me through her average day.

“Well,” she began, “I go to work and then I research—“

“Do you start your day with coffee?” I interrupted her.

A friend of Deborah’s who was sitting next to her started to laugh. “Deborah without coffee in the morning is not a good thing,” she said.

Picking up on that, I asked Deborah if she drank the office coffee.

“No way,” Deborah replied. “The office coffee is the worst. I go downstairs and buy a latté every morning.”

I asked, “Do you buy a single or double latté?”

“I always buy a double nonfat latté.”

“Great,” I said. “Now, what does that double nonfat latté cost you ever morning?”

“Oh, about $2.50.”

“Do you just get a latté, or do you also get a muffin or a bagel with that?”

“I usually get a biscotti.”

“Do you get the biscotti with chocolate on them?”

“Oh, yes,” Deborah enthused. “I love the ones with chocolate.”

“Great, Deborah. Now, what does the chocolate biscotti cost?”