Fall is in the air! You guys, I’m excited. I decorated for fall right after we moved into our new house last weekend. I plan on doing a post on our house soon, but for now, just know that we love love love it and it was a great decision!
The holiday season tends to be when I stray from my normal tendency of saving every dollar we make. I don’t know what it is about fall that gets me, but I always go overboard year after year. I love to cook and bake during this time, I want my house to be decked out in all the latest holiday decor, I burn pumpkin candles like they’re going out of style, and I even resort back to my almost-daily Starbucks habit.
(Did I just lose all of my personal finance readers who actually do follow a budget?)
A little backstory on my relationship with Starbucks…
I’ve always been a coffee-drinker and can remember drinking Starbucks regularly back in high school with my best friend, who introduced me to the glorious caramel frappuccino. Senior year of high school, I switched to a daily coffee frappucino (with whip cream, of course). In college, I got lucky and worked for the coffee empire (I probably saved thousands over my college career).
Fast-forward to today: I’m a full-time working mom with two toddlers. When we first moved to NC last year, I stopped drinking Starbucks almost entirely. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to, though. It was more because there weren’t many close to our apartment. Also, we have The Fresh Market here and their specialty coffees are fantastic, so for a time I drank flavored coffees and didn’t think much about Starbucks. I was happy to have broken that tradition, and so was my wallet.
Our new house is relatively close to a Starbucks, though, and there just might be a few that I pass on my commute to work. I was never tempted until the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte was unveiled. Now, I’m drawn to Starbucks like a moth to a flame. I just can’t resist anything pumpkin, especially if it’s combined with coffee. Anyone else with me on that?!
But, I’m still relatively “cheap” and try to keep my budget in mind when buying Starbucks. I thought it’d be fun to list my Starbucks Hacks that I’ve used over the years, and some I’ve heard of but have never used myself!
Starbucks Hacks from a Starbucks Fanatic
Let’s start with my own personal favorite:
Pumpkin Spice Iced Coffee
Instead of ordering a Pumpkin Spice Latte, order a coffee (hot or iced) with a few pumps of pumpkin spice added to it. I also have the barista add 2 percent milk, but you can have him/her add cream, non-fat milk, soy milk or no milk at all. Total cost is $3.84 for a venti if they charge for the pumpkin (sometimes they don’t), and $3.20 if they don’t! I call that a win, and if I drink it while working at the store I can get a refill for $0.50.
Customized Iced Latte
For those that love espresso, but hate paying the price of a latte, order a few shots of espresso poured over ice in a venti cup (Starbucks uses three shots for their iced venti size). Add vanilla or any flavor of your liking, then take the drink over to the milk station and fill the cup up with milk. Voila!
Iced Matcha Green Tea
An Iced Green Tea Latte from Starbucks is over $4.00 for the venti size (yes, I always order a venti when at Starbucks). If you want to make it healthier (and WAY cheaper), order two scoops of matcha powder with water in a venti cup. The barista should only charge you for the two scoops of powder, which is like $0.67. Plus, it’s healthier than mixing it with milk.
And finally, I wanted to share with you some other tips on how to save money at Starbucks.
5 Ways to Save at Starbucks
Don’t buy the bottled water
I worked at Starbucks for almost four years. Their water is triple-filtered, which is probably more so than the bottled water they sell for almost $2. Instead of purchasing a bottle, ask the barista for a venti ice water.
Avoid the food
Trust me, I’m just as tempted by the pastry shelf as anyone. But, I avoid it at all costs. It’s much cheaper to make your pastries from home or even purchase them in bulk from the grocery store. My secret for staying away is just looking at the calories: 450 for a pumpkin scone?! No thanks!
Bring your own cup
This won’t save you much, but by bringing your own cup the barista will take $0.10 off your order. Hey, it’s better than nothing.
Split a venti
When my husband and I are craving frappuccinos, we do what any budget-conscious-Starbucks-loving people would do: We order a venti frappuccino and have the barista split it into two separate cups, with whipped cream on each. Yum! I do the same thing for my daughters if they’re with us, only I order a tall vanilla bean frappuccino and ask them to split that into two separate cups.
Get a rewards card
Why do I not have this yet? Honestly, I don’t even know. I think subconsciously I feel if I have that card already loaded up with cash, I’ll go even more than I already do. I know I’m missing out on freebies, but honestly, I think I’d spend more by having the card. However, if you are unlike me and can control yourself, the Starbucks reward card could be perfect for you to help you save money and earn free drinks!
I want to know: How often do you go to Starbucks? Do you tend to go more during certain times of the year, like me and fall?!