Of course any self respecting personal finance blogger is going to tell you to swear off Starbucks for all eternity, never pay that much for a cup of coffee, it sucks, etc. Never go, put your $4/day (5 days/week) in an index fund, $960 in added investments each year, so at the end of a 20 year investment period you have an additional approx. $35,000 in assets.
Ok, but old habits die very hard and it is difficult to swear off the siren call of the Starbucks Siren (how ironic). Coffee is addictive and many office workers need either a quick social/mental break, which adds to the pleasure sensors of the brain as you desire the experience again and again forever! Those tricky baristas! So, how can we have our cake pop and eat it too? How can we feel a little less financial guilt about the whole thing, what are some Starbucks hacks we can deploy?
So let’s say the call of the siren is too great a guilty pleasure and you cannot give up your fix. Here are some ideas to mitigate the financial damage and get the most out of your habit:
IDEA ONE: Own Some Shares
One method of stock ownership is to buy what you use. If you and millions of other people use something every single day from a particular company, that could be a positive thing for the stock. Starbucks stock has been beaten down lately and is looking at a gloomier outlook of late. You would certainly want to consult a fiduciary financial advisor because investing individual stocks is risky. That said, how cool would it be to buy your morning latte with the proceeds from the dividend.
Starbucks dividend recently jumped 20% to .36 cents per share. Buy enough shares to buy a couple cups of coffee each month.There are those that work at Starbucks, those that consume it and those that own it. You could be any number of these various sides of the equation.
IDEA TWO: Share The Costs
Sometimes my friend and I buy one cup of regular tall sized coffee and share. Get an extra cup and split the coffee, then add your milk, cream, sugar to your taste. You have now reduced your cost to $1.25 but still have the benefit of a drink and being social. You have instantly reduced the 20 year cost to about $5,760, invested this could be closer to $11,000. Much better than the $35,000 in losses described above!
IDEA THREE: The Piazza
When I lived in Italy for a short time I was amazed at the piazzas or public squares. This was a pedestrian friendly place where people and their families/kids could come and congregate in the evenings to socialize and enjoy being outside together. America can be very lacking in public spaces like this. You may be fortunate to live near a nice park. But for many there are not many convenient spaces like this.
The point is that Starbucks and coffee shops have become a kind of public space where we can socialize, relax and work. Some people work or socialize better in a space like this, so view it as more of a rental space. You are investing in either work space or social space by buying your drink.
IDEA FOUR: Do not upsize or order a ridiculous “drink” aka coffee milkshake
I am not one to pass judgement, but if you are the person ordering the “Venti frappucinio with 3 shots of vanilla, 3 shots of hazelnut and a cherry on top” you are not ordering coffee.
I could not believe my eyes when I saw the “crystal ball” and “unicorn” frappucinos from several months ago, have we lost our friggin minds, my Italian coffee loving ancestors rolled in their graves!
America, we have a problem!
I could not believe when I saw these terrifying goblets of pure artery clogging crap! You are not only not ordering coffee, but you are single handedly ruining your health, finances and the environment. There, I laid it all out and I know it burns because all that frozen milky sugar tastes so sweet in the moment. Too bad it is so toxic! Please gain some control of your drink. If you must order these strange “things”, please at least get the small and order it with less shots of crap and sugar.
IDEA FIVE: Use the Rewards Card
Take advantage of the rewards card they offer in order to gain points for free drinks. This is a double edged sword, because I imagine on aggregate awards programs actually influence people to spend more, so you will have to be aware of this reality.
The overarching moral of the story here is if you cannot cut out the Starbucks thing altogether, then think about ways to reduce the cost or share in the value. This is really about habits, a topic we find intriguing. We become our habits, therefore if we get into the habit of throwing away $5 bucks each day on a tub of sugar that destroys our waistline, planet and finances, that is surely what we will become. If the whole experience and set up is used to enhance your life through work or social contact and provides some value added benefit that does not drain your finances, then order Latte, sit back and savor a moment of contemplation. At least they are getting rid of straws, we will next have coffee milkshake sippy cups for adults.