Paying off debt requires sacrifice.
As the saying goes, you can’t eat your cake and have it, too. It’s hard to make progress paying off debt if you’re spending money on things you can’t afford.
And let’s face it: when you’re facing down five-figures of student loan debt, you can’t afford a heck of a lot.
Of course, we need to spend some money. We still need to eat, to have a roof over our heads, to have clothes to wear. Those aren’t exactly optional expenses.
But many are. And those deserve careful analysis.
We have trimmed our budget significantly as part of our debt-free journey. At this point, most of our budget lines are essentials.
Most. Not all.
There are some things we choose to spend on for not other reason than because we enjoy them.
For me, the occasional Starbucks drink is one of those things
Grande Cup of Happy
I used to go to Starbucks all. the. time. I’m talking at least three or four times a week.
For several years, I lived less than a five minute drive from my favourite location. During that time period, the cafe served as a pseudo-office for me, the place I would go with my laptop to write when I needed a break from the apartment.
I became a regular with a regular order: a grande caramel frappuccino light, no to whip, yes to drizzle. More often than not, I would throw in a cake pop, too, because…well, why not?
I wish I could say seeing the financial impact of my three-times-a-week treat was what prompted me to adjust my habits, but it wasn’t: it was the impact it had on my weight.
Turns out liquid calories are, unfortunately, still calories.
I wasn’t ready to cut it out of my life completely. Instead, I came up with a compromise: unless I am going out for coffee with a friend, I allow myself to have Starbucks once a week.
Typically, my weekly treat happens on Saturday.
I order my drink, take it to one of the tables at the back of the room and settle in for an afternoon of writing. It is something I look forward to all week and I savour every moment of it.
Five ways I make room for coffee in our budget
Starbucks is my coffee shop of choice, so some of these tips are specific to Starbucks.
- Use a registered card
Registering your card allows you to earn free items.
The reward system has changed a few times over the years, but one thing is consistent: using a registered card helps you earn free drinks.
- Use the app!
Not only can you track your progress toward your free drink, you can also take part in challenges to earn extra stars. That said, you do need to be careful with those challenges, as it can simply encourage you to spend more.
- Bring a reusable cup
You’ll save $0.10 if you bring a cup with you. Every penny counts! Added bonus: one less cup in the landfill! Hooray for taking care of the environment!
Looking for other tips on how to be a little kinder to the environment? Check out this post.
- Try different drinks
Some menu items are more expensive than others. I used to be all about the frappuccinos and iced lattes; recently, I’ve started drinking more iced coffee. It’s just as delicious — and generally, cheaper.
- Limit intake
This is the biggest one. I try to stick with once a week. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way but in this case, abstaining is really the best way to save money.
I have had a Starbucks gold card for years now and I reload it with $10 on pay day. That covers the cost of my beverage and even allows for a bakery treat, if I want one. Yes, it takes longer to receive a reward, but it is a healthier approach — for my waistline and my wallet.
Do you drink coffee? What’s your favourite coffee shop?