14 Ways to Save at Starbucks

Just in case caffeine rules everything around you.

Caffeine lovers who have heard over and over again that they could be saving so much money if only they’d cut back on their daily Starbucks latte can now rejoice. So long as your coffee habit isn’t putting you in debt, there’s no pressing need to give up that jolt. Instead, try putting some of our trusty brand hacks to work.

Here are 14 ways to save at Starbucks.

1. Shop the Site

If you’re looking to stock up on at-home Starbucks goodies, it never hurts to start at Starbucks.com. Often the company offers coupon codes and discounts for online orders (check the top banner). They also advertise any discounts and savings deals directly on the homepage or via member emails, which brings us to our next point …

2. Join Starbucks Rewards

Join the Starbucks Rewards program and start earning “Stars” that can be redeemed for Starbucks Rewards benefits. You’ll earn two stars for every $1 you spend using your registered card. Check out more about the two reward level options and what you can get with them right here.

3. Get Your Birthday Drink on the House

Register your birthday when you join the Starbucks Rewards program and you’ll be gifted a free beverage or treat through the Starbucks app on your birthday.

4. Bring Your Own Cup

Some Starbucks chains offer a $0.10 discount on your drink when you bring in your own reusable cup to drink from.

5. Go Easy on the Ice

Iced drinks are great, but all that icy goodness takes up a lot of room in your cup. Ask for your ice on the side to ensure your drinking cup is full to the max with your actual drink of choice.

6. Skip the Bottled Water

The water at Starbucks is filtered to ensure your coffee retains its flavor, so skip the pricey bottled water and go for free cup of tap water instead.

7. Split a Venti

The 20-ounce Venti cup (or 24-ounce Venti Iced) is certainly large enough to split with a friend, and you’ll essentially be getting two tall-size drinks for less than you’d pay if you ordered one outright.

8. DIY Your Own Chai Latte

With a little ingenuity you can DIY your own chai latte using Starbucks ingredients, but for a cheaper price. Just order a cup of hot water with a chai tea bag and add your own milk from the condiments bar.

9. Order Gift Cards for Less

Visit sites like Gift Card Granny or Raise.com to purchase Starbucks gift cards for less than face value.

10. Follow Starbucks on Social Media

Check out Starbucks on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to be sure you catch all their recent deals.

11. Ask for a ‘Short’

While it’s not listed in most stores, a short size (8 ounces) does exist, and it’s cheaper than the tall if you’re only looking for a little caffeine buzz.

12. Check Your Target Receipts

It might seem odd, but if your Target happens to have a Starbucks, be sure to check your receipt after making a purchase. Sometimes a discount or BOGO offer for Starbucks will be attached. (Speaking of Target, we’ve got a review of its RedCard, which can earn frequent shoppers 5% off eligible purchases, right here.)

13. Make the Most of Free Refills

Pay with your Starbucks card or through your mobile app for your initial purchase and you’ll be rewarded with all the free refills of brewed coffee or tea you like.

14. Avoid Leaving Room for Milk & Ask for a Larger Cup

Instead of opting to have your barista leave you extra room in your tall cup for milk (read: less coffee), ask for your tall beverage in a grande cup instead. Voila! Appropriate amount of beverage with room to spare for milk.

Do you have a thing for java in general? Here are four credit cards that can help coffee lovers reap rewards on their daily brew.

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How to Save Money by Spending It

All the experts seem to say if you want to save money, stop spending. Here's how to do just the opposite.

All the experts seem to say the same thing: “If you want to save money, stop spending it.”

Stop buying lunch. Don’t buy a coffee in the morning. Cancel your cable.

They make it sound so easy to save money!

But I like buying lunch. I’m a zombie without my morning coffee. And I really enjoy Game of Thrones (and can’t stand seeing spoilers on Facebook).

What if there was a way you could spend, get more out of life and still save in the long run?

Well, there is, and I call it my Upgrade and Save strategy. There are many areas of your life in which you can save money by spending it. If you make an upfront investment, it can mean paying less in the future.

Upgrade and Save With Coffee

A few years ago, my wife purchased a Nespresso coffeemaker for my birthday. It’s a lot like a Keurig except it makes phenomenal single- and double-shot espressos. The pods are single-use, cost around 50 cents to a dollar each and turn me from a groggy mess into someone who’s ready to take on the day.

The coffee maker wasn’t cheap. You can get one for less than $100, but some of the higher-end models, which have features like the ability to make frothy milk, can cost close to $500. It’s not as cheap as a simple drip coffee maker, but it’s far less expensive than visiting a coffeehouse every morning.

If you have one coffee each day with the low-end Nespresso machine, it’ll cost you $465 a year: $100 for the unit and $365 for the coffee pods. A $3 coffee each day will run you $1,095 a year. That’s more than twice as much.

Experts would have you believe the best solution is to buy a drip coffee maker for $20, a five-pound canister of coffee for $15, and 100 coffee filters for $2. But the reason this is more likely to fail is because it will bring far more complexity into your life. You’ll create more steps in your morning or nighttime routine, which you’ll likely forget.

What will happen when you run out of coffee filters? Or coffee grounds? You’ll stop at Starbucks and buy a cup.

We enjoy our coffee maker because we put in a pod, turn it on and can drink our coffee in about 30 seconds. No pot, no filters, no programming — it’s easy.

Other Ways to Spend and Save

You can find these scenarios everywhere in your life — opportunities to make a small upfront investment so you can cut down the costs later on. Coffee has been an easy target ever since David Bach coined the term “latte factor,” but that’s not the only area where you can save money.

If you drive a car, you know you need to change the oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. If you switch from conventional oil to synthetic oil, you’ll pay more for the oil but will change it less often. My car needs an oil change every 5,000 miles when it’s using conventional oil. But it can run 10,000 miles when I use synthetic oil, making synthetic oil less expensive.

Another example: CFL and LED bulbs are more expensive, but they last longer and use less electricity. That’s fewer light bulb changes, especially for those hard-to-reach places, and a slightly lower electricity bill. (You can see 11 more ways to lower your electric bill here.)

Saving money isn’t everything — improving your quality of life is important too. Invest in the things you use often, like your mattress. If you buy a quality mattress and even higher quality bedding, you’ll get a strong start every day.

Finally, put the money you save toward the future. If you buy a coffee maker and stop paying $3 per cup, you can put that savings toward another investment. You could spend it on synthetic oil or on upgrading your bed. Just don’t spend it elsewhere without careful planning.

The experts always seem to say to it’s smarter to cut things out, but that’s unreasonable. Make an investment in your life and see how it pays off in the long run.

Image: Peopleimages

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Got Extra Cash? Here Are 11 Smart Purchases Under $400

Here's a list of smart purchases you should never feel bad about buying.

There’s always a lot of talk about how to be financially responsible and increase wealth with very little money. Many Americans live paycheck to paycheck. But put some real numbers behind that generic statement. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey of 2015 reports an average household income per consumer unit (think entire household of family members or single, financially independent people living alone or with other people) is $69,629. And the consumer’s unit average yearly expenses is $55,978.

Let’s say you dedicate those yearly expenses to standard things, such as food, housing, transportation and insurance. While the actual percentage breakdown per expense differs from household to household, depending on your family picture, you’ll still be dedicating a good chunk of your income to various necessities each month.

If we continue with this logic, the money you have left over — that unreasonably small portion of your salary that remains after paying bills — is what many would dub “play money.” The average consumer unit will have about $13,000 a year to play. (Speaking of “play money,” here’s how to stop buying stuff you can’t afford.)

With all that extra cash, what can we do? Of course, we could blow it on a steak dinner or splurge for the newest tech gadget. But what are a few smart items we should buy when we have the opportunity? We’ve compiled a list of smart purchases you should never feel bad about buying. And the best part? They’re all less than $400.

1. Student Loans

The average recent graduate has about $37,172 in student loan debt and pays about $351 per month toward the loan, according to Student Loan Hero. For those who are super strapped for cash, they might choose to defer their loans to a later date or skate by paying just the minimum. But the interest will kill you. One of the smartest things you can do with extra cash is to pay more into your loans when you can afford to do so. It’s a solid bet that added expenses will pop up eventually, and staying ahead of the curve means one less financial burden down the road. (Check out some tips for paying off your student loans here.)

2. An Interview Suit

Even if you’re not in the job market, investing in an interview suit is a wise decision. You never know when you’ll need a go-to outfit for networking events, conferences or a random “I’ve got someone I want you to connect with” meeting. Shopping for the perfect outfit is a lot more bearable when you’re not under duress or in a time crunch. Instead, you can browse for sales. You’ll find cheaper options in many locations, but a nice suit should put you right around that $400 mark. (What else can you do to get yourself ready for a job interview? Check your credit — many employers look at a version of your credit as part of the application process, so it’s helpful to know where yours stands. You can see two of your credit scores — absolutely free — on Credit.com.)

3. A Durable Mattress

What does anything matter if you don’t get a good night’s sleep? When you have extra cash at the end of the month, put it toward a high-quality mattress that will ensure you wake up ready to tackle each morning with spunk. High-quality mattresses come at a price. But they also last for years. You could spend thousands on a name-brand mattress, but a foam mattress from IKEA could work just as well.

4. Digital File Protection

External hard drives and online storage are perfect for backing up all those vacation shots, your wedding album and imperative side-business files. Hard drives are easy to find online, and they’ll run you about $82 for one with worthwhile storage capacity. Online storage pricing varies when it comes to options and personal preferences, but you can choose between services, such as Mozy, Dropbox or SugarSync. These cloud-storage providers charge a monthly fee but give discounts for yearly subscriptions. Expect to pay between $28.98 and $99.99 per year.

5. Online Classes

The most successful people will tell you learning never stops. As workforce trends continue to change, the need for specialized expertise grows. Devoting a few extra bucks to improving your knowledge is a practical expense. Maybe you want to become a better public speaker. Or pick up a new hobby to clear your head at night. And maybe you’ve heard tech gurus ramble about an increasing demand for coding professionals. Buy books, go online and enroll in a course. Do whatever you can to set yourself up for future success.

6. A Commuter Bike

Why spend what you could save? One of the smartest purchases you can make with $400 or less is a commuter bike. When considering what you’d also pay for gas, maintenance and car insurance, a commuter bike will pay for itself. There are definitely good, better and best when it comes to bikes, but you could find a quality road bike for around $300.

7. An Emergency Fund

It’s never a bad idea to start establishing an emergency fund. Experts say three months’ worth of expenses is a reasonable amount of cash to stash away just in case. A good trick is to make your savings automatic. Once you’re unable to see your money coming in, it’s easier to get by without it and find ways to work with what you have. Then, when you break your arm doing back flips off a boat or blow a radiator in your car, it’s covered.

8. Retirement Savings

Expanding on the previous point, try to accumulate as much wealth as you can for early retirement. Consider creating a moderately aggressive investment plan by opening IRAs, 401K accounts, brokerage accounts, etc. Take advantage of your employer opportunities and set up automatic contributions to your company’s 401K plan. Start at a respectable 3% contribution, and gradually increase it until you get to at least 10%. When in doubt, seek a fiduciary financial planner.

9. Solid Clothing

Some of us find it absolutely insane to buy a pair of jeans that cost more than $39.99. However, quality clothing items, such as boots and winter coats, hold up over time. And the money you shell out is worth it later. Reddit’s Buy It for Life adheres to this philosophy. This subreddit aims to “emphasize products that are durable, practical, proven and made to last.” It might seem insane to pay $219 for insulated L.L. Bean Duck Boots, but you’ll be grateful when they’re still keeping your toes warm and dry 10 years later.

10. A Coffee Maker

Does life really exist without coffee? Another smart purchase is to invest in a solid coffee maker. If you fancy those specialty drinks, you could buy a combination machine from DeLonghi for $162 on Amazon. Considering the price of specialty drinks from coffee shops — and our dependency on caffeine — this is a purchase that will pay for itself in a matter of weeks.

11. Various Fitness Programs

There’s no safer bet than to invest in your health. Health equals wealth, right? Whether you buy a treadmill for $399.99 or invest in various meal prep services popular for those always on the go, they’re all worthwhile expenses.

Depending on your employer, you might also be eligible to receive reimbursements for health-related expenses, such as gym memberships, fitness classes or playing in sports leagues. While you’re at it, look into other reimbursement programs you might be eligible for, such as cellphone plans, moving costs or professional-development classes.

This article originally appeared on The Cheat Sheet.  

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Thursday is National Coffee Day. Here’s Where to Get Cheap or Free Joe

national-coffee-day

What’s better than a delicious, hot cup of coffee in the morning? How ’bout a free cup of delicious, hot coffee?

Thursday is National Coffee Day, and that means you’ve got a pretty good chance of getting a free or discounted cuppa joe at your favorite local coffee house. Here are some of the places we’ve confirmed that are offering specials to celebrate all things coffee, but not all companies had announced at the time of this writing. So, by all means, give your local coffee shop a call and see what kind of specials they might be offering.

Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme stores around the country are doing customers a solid this Thursday, offering not just a free, small cup of coffee, but also a glazed glob of doughnut deliciousness to go along with it. And no, there’s no purchase required to get your caffeine and sugar fix. If that can’t make your Thursday feel like Friday Eve, it might be best to just spend the day in bed.

Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts is celebrating not only National Coffee Day, but also its 66th year of being in business by offering guests a medium-sized cup of hot coffee for just 66 cents.

Starbucks

Starbucks isn’t giving away free coffee drinks this year. The company is instead helping to secure the future for coffee farmers in need by donating a coffee tree for every brewed cup of México Chiapas coffee purchased on Thursday.

McDonald’s

Likewise, McDonald’s hasn’t made an announcement of any free or discounted coffee being available, but McDonald’s restaurants in the Philadelphia area will be donating 100% of Thursday’s proceeds for drip coffee sales to Covenant House Pennsylvania and Covenant House New Jersey, the region’s largest shelter specializing in serving homeless youth.

Boyer’s Coffee

This Denver favorite is throwing a party in celebration of National Coffee Day, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. The store will feature free coffee stations, 50% off specialty beverages, lunchtime food trucks, contests, music and more.

Remember, on days other than this Thursday, if you want to save money on everyday essentials like coffee, it’s a good idea to brew it yourself at home. The savings can add up to a substantial sum that you could put into a retirement account or emergency fund, or even use to pay down debt. Doing so can really improve your credit standing. You can see how your debt is affecting your credit by tracking your free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

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