Want to Save Money to Travel? Then Stay Away from Starbucks!!!

Or any other coffee shop for that matter.  Friends constantly complain to me that they don’t have money to travel, dine out at nice restaurants, or pursue other dreams and hobbies.  And yet, these same friends often check-in daily on Facebook to Starbucks, Caribou, or name your neighborhood coffee shop. “Getting my morning pick-me-up!”

Wow!  What an incredible waste of money!

I’m not hating on coffee shops or the entrepreneurs that run them.  In fact, I patronize coffee shops myself for various meet-ups and mastermind groups that I am participate in.  And I usually splurge for a cappuccino (got hooked in Italy), but that’s maybe two or three times a month.  Not every day!

I know, I know.  Tell me something new.  Everyone knows buying coffee out daily is a budget buster.  But do we?  If we did, then surely we would change our habits.

I think the issue is that saying it’s a waste of money and seeing that it’s a waste of money are two different things.  With this post, I want you to see how much money you are wasting at Starbucks each week by comparing annual savings to buying your coffee out versus brewing your own at home.

Lined up to Get the Morning Caffeine Fix!

Lined up to Get the Morning Caffeine Fix!

Let’s take a look at some scenarios…  All prices below are based on a large size from my local Starbucks in Charlotte (they could be more in your market).  Taxes and tip have not been included and neither have those extras you might pick up (and don’t need) like a muffin or CD (Coffee shop marketing folks are genius).

Worst case, you make two Starbucks runs a day – morning and afternoon – drinking a large latte.

$3.95 for a latte x 2 = $7.90 per day

$7.90 x 260 business days a year = $2,054 per year

Twice a day with just a large coffee.

$2.25 for a large coffee x 2 = $4.50 day

$4.50 per day x 260 business days a year = $1,170 per year

Just for your morning pick-me-up.

$3.95 for a latte x 260 business days a year = $1,027 per year

$2.25 for a coffee x 260 business days a year = $585 per year

A Convenient Money Suck - Seven Deep in the Drive-Thru

A Convenient Money Suck – Seven Deep in the Drive-Thru

How much to brew my own coffee?

I’m not saying to go without coffee.  That would be absurd!  Let’s face it, we’re all addicted, and it’s an addiction that none of us are going to kick.  Instead, brew your own coffee at home.  Let’s take a look at the cost savings below.  I’m basing these numbers on the equivalent of a large coffee from Starbucks, and not factoring in the sunk cost of buying mugs and a coffee machine.  If I were, then to be fair we would have to calculate the cost of your car to drive to Starbucks and the gas to drive to said caffeine fountain.  But I prefer a latte!  Same ingredients, different machine – your sunk costs just went up.

$9.99 for a 2 lb bag of coffee / 60 cups per bag = $.17 for coffee

$.17 for coffee x 3 servings (equivalent to a large coffee) = $.51 a day for coffee

$1.17 for a bag filters / 200 filters = $.01 a day for filters

$1.79 for creamer / 64 servings = $.03 for creamer

$.03 for creamer x 3 servings = $.09 a day for creamer

$.04 for package of Splenda x 3 servings = $.12 for sweetener

Total cost per day to brew at home = $.73

Annual cost of brewing your own coffee = $199

But I need my afternoon coffee fix as well!  So do I.  You have a couple of options to avoid the hissing money suck of Starbucks’ pricey machines.  If you work from home like I do, there’s most likely a cup or two left in the pot from the morning.  Nuke it up.  Or, pour it over ice with some fru-fru creamer and you have a Frapuccino.  If you go into an office, drink the free coffee available to employees.  In my career, I have worked in 10 different offices, all of them offered free coffee in the break room.  Some even had those fancy Keurig machines so you can get your fru-fru fix.

So how much do you save by brewing your own coffee?  I’m glad you asked!

You drink two large lattes a day:  $1,855 (Two plane tickets to Europe)

You drink two large coffees a day:  $971 (Four plane tickets to Florida)

You drink one large latte a day:  $828 (One plane ticket to South America)

 You drink one large coffee a day:  $386 (An excursion for four on a cruise)

Now you do it!  That’s right.  We can’t change our habits until we see how real our own savings would be.  Complete this formula right now.  I’ll pause while you get a pen, paper, and calculator.

Visits to Starbucks per week x Spend per visit = Weekly Starbucks spend

_______________________ x  $_______________ = $­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­______________

Weekly Starbucks spend x 52 = Annual Starbucks spend

$_______________ x 52 = $________________

Annual Starbucks spend – $199 = Annual savings to brew your own coffee

$___________ – $199 = $_________________

Wow!  That’s a lot of savings!  I need to take action right now!  Do it, go to Amazon right now and order a coffee maker if you don’t have one and a 2 pound bag of coffee to get you started.

This is the third in a series on money savings tip to help you save the money to live your dreams.  Let’s look at where we have been so far on your way to freeing up cash to travel.

  • In the first lesson we reviewed how to live on a budget and tell your money where to go
  • The second lesson reviewed how to pay cash for quality used cars saving $8,663
  • In this lesson we reviewed how brewing your own coffee provides an average savings of $1,010
  • Total savings thus far is $9,673
Paid with my Gift Card

Paid with my Gift Card

Disclaimer – This post was written inside a Starbucks during the morning rush while sipping on a Cappuccino (paid for with a gift card).  I was trying to see what the allure is all about – buying your coffee out.  I don’t get it.  In fact, I found the experience to be quite frightening.  The parking lot was outright dangerous – all those unalert drivers operating a motor vehicle without caffeine.  I kid you not, but I almost had three accidents!

Author: Bryan

Beer, Food, and Travel Writer

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  1. Wow, that’s an eye-opener! Thankfully, I don’t drink coffee, only tea and I hate anything ‘to go’ :) I have tea at home in the morning and can also pop home during the day. I’m still broke, but that’s because I live in Latvia, rather than my caffeine costs 😉

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  2. Great post Mr. G! I’m with Expat and drink mostly tea and when I do “drink out” it’s tea. If it’s coffee, it’s an Americano since I don’t like drip coffee, but I’ve come to realize lately that coffee makes me feel blah the rest of the day. Although sometimes I give into the Kurig at work. I very rarely get fru-fru drinks and when I do it’s as a treat (and even then I feel like crap after I drink them, thinking, WHY did I do that?).

    Anyway, I save my “eating out” budget for beer with friends. :)

    I REALLY liked how you showed the cost of a year of lattes is equivalent to (this plane ticket). Totally cool. Great work!

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    • “Anyway, I save my “eating out” budget for beer with friends.” This is totally what I’m getting at. You are controlling where your money goes. I’m hoping others who read this post get that.

      This is why I am using real dollars and have a fill in the blank. Most of what I read is so simple, “Starbucks is a waste of money.” Without seeing how much, we aren’t going to change our habits. I am reminded of my Uncle who was a chain smoker. He quit by listening to the tapes. Just hearing what it was doing to his body made him quit cold turkey before listening to the rest of the tapes. It was the specifics, not just that it was “unhealthy.”

      Have a great weekend!

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  3. First, why are you going to Starbucks? Go to NotJustCoffee at 7th Avenue Public Market or Smelly Cat in NoDa. Keep it local!

    What I do is shop K-Cups at Harris Teeter or Kroger and stack a few coupons when they knock their boxes to 60 cents a capsule. We have a company machine, so that’s my only cost.

    Saving all this cash.. what’s 2014 big trip?!

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    • Where’s your attention to detail? First paragraph, “Starbucks, Caribou, or name your neighborhood coffee shop.” :) Actually, in my part of town there isn’t a local coffee shop. There used to be, but it closed.

      I didn’t mention K-Cups at home because while cheaper than Starbucks, they are quite a bit more than regular brewed coffee. 60 cents a capsule versus about 19 cents for regular brewed coffee. Here’s one I found on Amazon though that gets the cost down to 36 cents for a K-cup. http://www.amazon.com/San-Francisco-Bay-Coffee-Chaser/dp/B007Y59HVM/ref=sr_1_4?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1402845315&sr=1-4&keywords=k-cups

      Right now 2014 holds South Africa and Namibia. Tentative is Spain, Lithuania, and Latvia. And a really big announcement is coming soon…

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      • My bad :)… Once I see chains, I start to get all local. Good call on the 19 vs. 60, I guess I was trying to split the difference of the $2 tall vs. home.

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  4. That’s a thing we never think about. The annual cost is really huge and we don’t take it seriously as 2-3$ a day is not a big deal! I am lucky as they provide us free coffee at work and I just realized that I really make big savings!! haha
    kisses from Greece

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    • You are correct. Starbucks really is a marketers dream. They completely have us fulled on the $2-3 a visit pricing. But $2-3 a day on anything really adds up. The next challenge is to find out what else we spend on like Starbucks that can be cut…

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  5. I’m lucky enough to have inherited a coffee grinder, French press, and tea kettle all for free – although I could pick all of these items up for roughly $30.

    What I like to do is pick up a bag of whole beans (or ground if I can’t find anything else) from shops when I’m traveling.

    It’s one of those items you’ll be able to enjoy even when you get home from vacation. For instance I’m still enjoying a brand from Washington DC and just picked up another this past week in Boston. Can’t wait for the weekend – I get free coffee at work all day.

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    • Just don’t try buying coffee in Colombia. Security will poke and prod your bag so much looking for drugs that the beans are ruined. And this is before landing in the States.

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