Now that the cold weather is here, it’s really tempting to stop on your way to work to grab a hot coffee, or to spend part of your day in the warm ambiance of a little shop with a fireplace, comfortable seating, and tasty beverages. Unfortunately, the cost of a coffee concoction in your favorite coffee shop can easily add up to $80 or more over the course of a month, and $1000 in a year. Here are some tips on how to get your caffeine fix and stay within your budget.
Skip the stop
Okay, so this isn’t really a way to save at coffee shops, but it is probably the cheapest way to enjoy your coffee!
Consider skipping the coffee shop most mornings of the week. You really will save a lot of money if you just make the coffee at home and bring it with you in a reusable to-go mug, and some of the flavored creamers are really good. This time of year, you can even get specialty flavors like eggnog and cinnamon at your local grocery stores. It’s also nice to know you won’t be late for work because you’re standing in line.
If you just can’t give up the coffee shop flavor, consider downsizing. Don’t buy the grande-vente-double-extra-sized coffee. By the time you get to the bottom, it’s likely to be cold anyway.
If you buy a Grande Caffe Latte instead of a Venti 5 days/week for a year, you will save $130. Opt for the Tall size and save $312 each year!
Bring a refill mug
Bring your own mug. Some places will give you a little discount if you bring your own mug, because it’s one less cup they have to provide. Many coffee shops will even sell a mug for around ten or fifteen dollars and then once you buy the mug you get discounted refills every time you use it. Starbucks will give you $0.10 off no matter what size cup you bring.
If you buy coffee at Starbucks 5 days/week for a year, bringing your own cup will save you $26/year.
Skip the toppings
Try to stay away from fancy toppings. Adding whipped cream, foam, shots of espresso, extra sugar and anything else you can fill your cup with will cost you in most places.
That extra shot of espresso is costing you $208/year.
Get it to-go
Don’t hang out there all day. It’s great to be able to sit down with your laptop and get some work done while sipping your mocha, but once it’s gone, you’ll be tempted to buy another one or add on a sandwich. Do this three times in a day and you’re already out $15.
Consider getting your coffee at a convenience store instead of a specialty coffee shop. Many times it’s just as good, but you save money by preparing your own instead of having someone make it for you. Some convenience stores have all of the fancy toppings too – I’ve even seen little shots of espresso that you can add for extra zing. Lots of convenience stores offer seating as well. It’s not quite the same atmosphere, but the wi-fi is just as good and the coffee is sometimes better.
Pick up your 20 oz coffee at Wawa instead of Starbucks and save $234/year.
Try some apps
There are many smartphone apps and websites that allow you to save money on your coffee if you go to popular national chains. The Dunkin Mobile app and Starbucks app are great examples. Download and use these to receive coupons and discounts.
You don’t have to give up the coffee shops altogether, but if you’re smart about it, you may find that you like some of the alternatives even more than standing in line and paying a bundle of money in hopes that they get your order right.