A lot of personal finance books and articles mention the "Latte Factor" - that if you knock off your Starbucks addiction, you can retire wealthy. But you don't have to eliminate your favourite ritual to save money. Here are five ways to spend smarter and save big at Starbucks.
1. Register your Starbucks Card
If you frequent Starbucks more than three times a week, you should get yourself this convenience card. Not only does the Starbucks card make it easy to pay for your drinks, it comes with some pretty hefty bonuses when you register your card online.
The bonuses you'll probably use most often are the the free syrup and milk options, and the free brewed coffee refills. If you drink a lot of soy milk, the savings really do add up.
If you frequent Starbucks a lot and live in the United States, consider registering a Starbucks Gold card. For an annual membership of $25, you get a 10% discount on almost all your purchases.
2. Budgeting using your Starbucks Card
If you only use the Starbucks Card to pay for your drinks, you can easily track how much you spend from month to month. Figure out how much you spend currently, and then see if changing your ordering habit cuts your spending significantly or not. When I started using the Starbucks Card, I experimented putting on different amounts on each month. By tracking changes in ordering different drinks and sizes, I was able to figure out what saved me the most money and what I could safely indulge in.
3. Bring your mug
You save 10 cents for each drink you order with your own mug. It may not be much, but it's not difficult to tuck one in your backpack or briefcase, and you help the environment!
4. Order Americano Mistos instead of Lattes
You might like espresso based drinks, but you don't want to shell out for a latte. Why not ask for an Americano Misto instead? An Americano is espresso with water. Misto in Starbucks-ese is a drink plus half steamed milk. So when you order a flavoured americano misto instead of a flavoured soy latte, you get espresso + water + steamed milk + syrup. By doing this, you save anywhere from 50 cents to a dollar. With a registered Starbucks Card, you only pay for the price of an Americano because of the free syrup and milk.
My $5.50 grande vanilla soy latte is now a $2.85 grande vanilla soy americano misto - a savings of nearly 50%. That's huge! By using my Starbucks Card to track my drinks spending, I went from $50 a month to $20.
5. One size smaller
Finally - when you order an Americano misto instead of a latte, you also get an extra shot of espresso. If you're craving caffeine, you could try ordering an Americano Misto one size smaller than your usual latte for the same kick. Why don't you order a tall instead of a grande and see if it satisfies you?
By following these steps, you'll be able to save significantly at Starbucks, and enjoy your drink without feeling guilty!