Budget-Friendly Ways to Fuel Your Coffee Addiction
This post was originally published Oct 26, 2013. We gave it a little facelift and some TLC!
Sometimes, it’s really hard to identify a fellow Broke Girl when walking through the city. Girls like us are usually well-dressed (they’ll never know we shop at thrift stores and Marshall’s!), well-groomed, and, of course, have a Starbucks coffee in hand.
The constant sipping of over-priced frappuccinos and soy milk blend, super-specialty lattes doesn’t mean that we have cash to burn; it’s usually a sign that we just don’t know how to spend it.
So, here comes the question you’ve been refusing to acknowledge: How much do you spend on coffee?
I don’t mean per cup. Being that it’s 2017, $5 – while ridiculous for a quick, 16 oz java fix– can’t purchase much else today. You barely notice its absence in your wallet, yet receive instant gratification that often pays off via enhanced productivity at work or social time when out with a friend or colleague. But if you start throwing fivers left and right, day after day, it’s going to add up. Check out these few pointers on how to better manage your finances while still fulfilling your caffeine needs, and see if you can put that money saved towards something worthwhile.
Get it for free!
If you need a cup – or three – in order to tackle your work day, quit throwing your money at other establishments and instead rely on coffee brewed in-office. Chances are, your office has a coffee machine, right?
Hear us out. If the coffee at your workplace is fine, you might as well either stop buying out cold turkey on weekdays, or at least start your day with free coffee at the office, then allow yourself a midday treat if you have the time/desire!
If the standard office brew is cheap, either bring up some suggestions for a substitute to your boss, or start bringing in flavored creamers for everyone to share (or, you know, for your personal use). You can even buy Starbucks iced coffee packets for a quick fix!
If you’re like me, you’ve got a super sweet tooth that standard coffee, sugar and creamer can’t satisfy. So before you justify dumping all of your personal funds into cups full of calories, compare the prices of coffee houses near you. Depending on your region, prices between standards like Starbucks, Wawa, 7-11 and Dunkin Donuts will vary.
Personally, I started picking up coffee from 7-11 every day because not only is it the cheapest at $1 a cup, but I can modify the flavors to my liking with different brews, specialty flavors, cream/milk, and syrup pumps. That totally beats out erratic baristas who craft your white chocolate mocha as a heavenly sweet espresso one day and a chalky, chocolate-laden mess the next.
And hey, even better if there are local coffee spots in the area, so you can support small businesses!
Switch to Tea
If you aren’t dead set on coffee, consider the occasional (or regular) switch to tea. Your office will likely have a box of tea bags up for grabs. And if not, they’re super cheap comparatively when purchased at the grocery store, and even at coffee shops.
Brew at Home
We know, you’ve heard this one before. If you haven’t tried it, though, might we make the following suggestions?
Before you go to bed at night, fill your coffee maker with coffee grounds and water. Then first thing when you get out of bed, turn the pot on. When you’re ready for breakfast or to get out the door, your coffee will be, too.
Even better? Brew a pot of coffee in the evening, then stick it (in a different, room-temperature container!) in the fridge overnight. The next morning, fill up your travel mug with coffee and ice cubes, plus cream and sugar to taste for your own iced brew.
Btw, if you don’t have a coffee maker, it’s way cheaper to buy one and purchase your own coffee grinds than have it made for you – same as buying all of your other groceries vs. ordering take out! Literally, you can find them for as cheap as $20.
The best part? You get to buy a really cute travel mug.
Track Your Spending
If you aren’t willing to kick your habits just yet, at least start keeping track of all of the money that you are spending on small purchases so you know how much extra cash or investment funds you’re missing out on. As I said, they add up quite a lot.
I use Mint.com for everything: it keeps track of cash flow from your checking account, and you can add in all of your cash purchases manually. I always ask for my receipts now so that once a week I can take 5 minutes to include these expenditures into my account, and then I can see my income and spendings from a whole range of perspectives. How much I’ve spent per month, few months, per year; a breakdown of where all of my money is going by category; and how much is going to exactly which businesses.
I highly recommend a free account to anyone who doesn’t keep their own budget. You’ll be surprised at what you find out.
Sign up for Rewards
When getting your coffee to-go, choose to buy from a retailer that offers rewards for every purchase! Java is a whole lot sweeter when your 10th cup is free.
Make it a Challenge
For those budget-savvy ladies who love a good personal challenge, here are a few ideas for how to curb the spending on coffees:
- Limit yourself to one (or two, or three) coffee(s) out per week – You know, depending on how much of a problem you have…
- Stop cold turkey on weekdays or on weekends.
- Only allow yourself a coffee out on a particular day or days during the week – My day of the week is Mondays because, let’s be real, Mondays are hard enough.
- Challenge yourself to try every basic (cheap) item on the menu – Have you ever even *had* an Americano before?
- Only allow yourself a coffee in the morning after tackling (or, at least starting) one hard/nagging item on your to-do list – You can go out for coffee after finishing that report you really don’t want to do.
- Oh! While we’re on that kick, only allow yourself a coffee out if you’ve done that one thing you *say* you want to add/change to your morning routine, but haven’t yet – You know, like working out. Meditating. Writing for an hour. Prepping a salad for lunch. Not hitting the snooze button. What’s better than setting and crushing one goal? Setting and crushing two.
Make it a Special Occasion
If you’re trying to control your coffee habit without giving it up completely, try employing a mix of these recommendations. Set a weekly goal for how many times you’ll bring from home or purchase from establishments with different prices. One idea which I really like, though, is making a coffee outing a really special occasion.
Plan to go with a friend, or treat yourself out. Head to somewhere that will serve you a steaming cappuccino in a china cup with a little spoon and art formed in the foam. Order a drink somewhere that has your exact perfect order – the right milk or cream, the right flavor pumps, your must-have sugar or sweetener – and drink out of a proper mug. Bring your laptop or a good book, and indulge yourself for a few hours. Get cozy in an arm chair or adorable vintage style shop. Stretch those $5 and really make them worth your while.
Are you suffering from caffeine addiction or guilty of frequent coffee splurges? Have any plans for cutting back? Let us know in the comments!