Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How I Save Money at Starbucks

OK, the obvious way you can save money is not to go. I'm on board with that most of the time, but sometimes I like to meet a friend there, or take my laptop and pretend I'm busy and important. I've had some people at Starbucks ask me what I've ordered, so I wanted to share my sneaky little strategies of how I save a little money with you.

First You Have to Register a Starbucks card If you remember my wallet post, maybe you remember all the Starbucks cards I had in there. I always wondered why they didn't have a card to punch and every 10 coffees, I get one free. I was accustomed to that feature at all my previous coffee shop hang outs and I really missed it!

All you have to do is buy a gift card, register the number online and use it. You can even have your credit card linked to it, so it automatically refills when it goes below a certain limit. I don't do that because we are phasing out credit cards in our life, but I used to do it when I was working. You can see all the rewards options at the Starbucks website.

Free Refills One of the main rewards that I enjoy are free refills while you are at Starbucks. I usually take my refill and heat it up the next day because I can't handle that much caffeine in one day. I just stick in the frig and look forward to it tomorrow!

Free Coffee Sometimes I also buy the decaf whole bean coffee for at home. I time my purchase so that I can hang out and get my free tall coffee, technically it says "any handcrafted tall beverage of your choice", but you may have to fight for that because I usually just get a plain old coffee.

Free Syrup & Milk Upgrades At first I was feeling guilty for having these extra calories in the form of syrup, but it tastes so much better that I decided to ignore that guilt. Besides, this is another great way that I save money because if you like one of the frou-frou expensive drinks, I can't tell the difference.

Order a Misto That leads me to the next way that I save money. The strangely named "Misto" is on the menu under Caffe Misto, but is often overlooked. Basically it's a Cafe au Lait, coffee with steamed milk, which is my favorite. I am extra naughty and get whole milk because it tastes so much better, and always order it extra hot, with vanilla syrup. It's costs $2.00 instead of $3.25 for a tall Caramel Macchiato.

Free Birthday Coffee Yep, you get a coffee on your birthday. Order the biggest, most expensive one they have just because you can!

Cumulative Rewards Just like any rewards program, this is the one where you have to keep yourself in check. I think it's human nature to want to complete things and get free stuff. I still try to only do Starbucks once in awhile because it is an expensive habit that can get out of control really fast. I wrote about the luxury of the poor issue a little bit here.

At first you will be at the Green Level, and then the Gold Level. They send you a cool Gold card just to make you feel super special and exclusive. Once you get to the Gold level, you get a free drink, every 15 stars. I don't know exactly what stars are the equivalent of in dollar amounts, but just know that eventually you get a free drink.

So I'm not going to go into the financial drain that IS Starbucks, but I do feel like it's a treat for me sometimes. Now they have free wi-fi for everyone who goes which is an extra incentive to stay for awhile. I divide the price that I pay for my tall Misto in half and I'm paying $1.00 per cup of coffee which is not bad for a morning out.

What's your favorite way to treat yourself on the cheap? I also like to go try on lipstick and perfume and not buy anything. It just makes me happy and no buyer's remorse either! Do you like Starbucks?

I'm a Caffe Misto Whole Milk Vanilla Syrup Extra Hot. What are you?

Just for fun I put some pictures of our wedding day. I had a major caffeine withdrawal headache and my new hubby knew just what I needed!

The first sip relieved my headache.

You also get a free Starbucks on your wedding day!

I'm not even letting go for the photo ops. These are all in downtown Greenville, SC.

I do. love coffee.
He wasn't drinking it, just holding it.

Coffee cup image from here.


Kate said...

This is a fantastic post! I have been spending quite a bit of time lately at Starbucks when I drive down with my husband to work. I had no clue about any sort of rewards or whatnot. Thanks for letting us all know!

Fiona Ferris said...

Beautiful wedding photos, and funny with the coffee theme in these ones. You must really love your coffee! You both look gorgeous.

I'm going to see if Starbucks have the same card in New Zealand.

My favourite thing to do with little money is exactly what you've mentioned. I check out all the cosmetic counters, try on fragrance, makeup and handcream, accept any free samples that are going... Often if you chat with the consultant they will do a quick makeover.

I also flick through new magazines and books at Borders (and make notes on books I want to request at the library). A coffee in a cafe is normally my only purchase.

I don't do this as often as when I was younger, but it's still a nice treat for a couple of hours that doesn't break the bank, and I get some good research done for future purchases.

The Closet Therapist said...

Kalee, I'm so glad the post helped you! Let me know how it goes and if you are able to create your own perfect drink using the misto as a base!

I love your profile pic-tres chic!

The Closet Therapist said...


I'm glad I'm not the only crazy person who doesn't care if I buy anything or not. I really just like to "know" what is going on in the perfume and makeup industries. I store up scents, colors and details in my head for some reason. I love to be on an elevator and guess someone's perfume. It's a little weird though, I must admit! "Oh, there is "Angel"...and "Flowerbomb" just passed me."

Stephanie said...

I saved money at starbucks yesterday by walking in, seeing the very long line and walking out :). I then walked across the street to whole foods and bought a tea. I don't go there that often and try to frequent our locally owned coffee shops if I do. I'm going to let my friend who goes there daily know about these tips though.

I also cruise the cosmetic counters and book stores without purchasing things.

The Closet Therapist said...


That is the BEST way to save money at Starbucks! There aren't many locally owned coffee shops left around here but I also used to like to go to them to support local.

How are you liking your new lipstick you posted about a few weeks ago? Do you wear it often?

La Belette Rouge said...

Starbucks should give you and your husband free coffee for life in exchange for those photos. They are fantastic!!!

The Closet Therapist said...

Belette-From your mouth to Starbucks ears! I wish!

Thanks for the compliment on the pics. My good friend from college who happens to be French also took them for us. www.jeromeleveque.com He is very talented!

Stephanie said...

I do still love the lipstick and wear it often. It is hands down the most flattering color I own. The only time I don't wear it is when I'm going for a more subtle nude lip.

The Closet Therapist said...

Stephanie-I love that! It's still my goal to find my one perfect color too! I have a lot of colors I like though so I won't be shopping any time soon for more.

Pauline Wiles said...

Love your wedding-coffee pics!!
Yes, I have a Starbucks card, and it was certainly a nice birthday treat to get a drink on the house.

The Closet Therapist said...

Struggler-Already ahead of the game! Did you order the biggest, most expensive drink?

Pyro said...

Another tip for you. The stars that you get is 1 star per purchase/swipe. If you get 2 items, ask them to break down your purchase and you will get 2 star and get your rewards quicker! Did not know you got it free on your birthday, though! Thanks for the tip!

Sabrina C. said...

FYI - It's not a policy of the company to give ANYONE free coffee on their wedding day. You probably just got a nice store / barista who gave you the drink for free! So anyone reading this - it's not true that Sbux will give you free coffee on your wedding day. It's not an official policy. As a barista I have done it before for a bride, but it's definitely not something that they "have to do" or is a policy that provides this. People will get turned down if they ask for free coffee just because of their wedding.

The Closet Therapist said...

Sabrina, Got it! Thanks for clarifying.


Our Trip to Rosemary Beach, Florida

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