The latte factor is a term coined by financial author David Bach to describe daily, wasteful spending. For those of us trying to save more and lessen/consolidate debt, knowledge of the latte factor can cause a sense of guilt as we slyly shuffle into a Starbucks to spend our hard earned money.
On the weekend, I enjoy spending two or three hours at my local Starbucks taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi and doing my freelance writing there in relative peace and quiet while my husband watches the kids at home. However, over time I have learned some techniques to minimize the amount of money I am handing over. If you, too, can’t resist the lure of Starbucks (or the free Wi-Fi), use some of these tips to make it more affordable:
1. Use a registered Starbucks’ card. These cards are free to register and they can save you a bundle of money. After you have used your card 5 times in a year, you move to their Green Level and get a free drink voucher on your birthday. Once you have purchased 30 drinks in a year you will move to the Gold Level. At the Gold Level, every time you have used your card to purchase 15 drinks, they will send you a card for a free drink. At either level you will qualify for free select syrups and milk options (such as upgrading to soy milk).
2. Buy discount gift cards to load your Starbucks’ card. Rather than just hand the cashier over $10 to reload on your registered card or set your card to automatically charge your credit card when the balance runs low, buy discount gift cards instead. Use a site like giftcardgranny.com to track all of the Starbucks’ gift cards that are currently available on a variety of gift card sites. You can often find Starbucks’ gift cards for 5 to 10% off the face value; once you buy one, simply transfer the balance to your registered card.
3. Take advantage of the free condiments. If you like iced coffee with milk, rather than ordering it that way, just order regular coffee and add milk at the condiment station. Of course, do this within reason. If you like more than a healthy dash of milk, you should pay for it when you order your drink.
4. Save the expensive drinks for your free drinks. I buy the lowest priced drinks that I enjoy when I am paying for them. However, when I have my free drink card as a result of buying 15 drinks with my registered card, I treat myself and buy a more expensive drink like a frappuccino.
5. Shop the clearance racks. Buying Starbucks’ coffee beans to brew at home is usually not an option since they are pricey. However, we wait for sales of seasonal blends. Right after Christmas, Starbucks’ offered their Christmas blend of coffee on sale, buy one get one free. With the sale, the coffee beans were the price we would pay for cheaper coffee beans at the grocery store, so we stocked up.
True, making coffee at home is much cheaper than buying coffee at Starbucks. Still, if you enjoy doing some work at Starbucks or meeting friends for a chat or ending your date night there, you can still enjoy your visit and spend less than you normally would utilizing some of the strategies above.
**Photo by Dennis Mojado