Starbucks

On Tuesday, June 25, Starbucks’ prices went up by an average of 1 percent on many of the drinks sold in U.S. stores. Affecting about one-third of espresso and latte drinks, brewed coffee and tea, this price increase is an excellent opportunity to give up your expensive store-bought coffee habit…for good.

What’s your reason for overspending at Starbucks? Yes, your brain needs caffeine – but it also wants something more.

First, you must realize that the reasons you DRINK coffee and the reasons you BUY coffee are not necessarily the same thing. Sure, coffee is one of the world’s great legal stimulants. It enhances mental and physical wakefulness, alertness and locomotion. However, you can make your own coffee at home for a fraction of the price – so why do you buy? Examine the reasons why you really go to Starbucks:

SOCIAL: Perhaps your whole office hits the coffee shop every morning, or you have a “coffee buddy” that you walk down the block with to buy your Salted Caramel Latte. You’re not just visiting Starbucks – you’re indulging in social interaction that strengthens the bonds of friendship.

Fix: Walk to the coffee shop with your friends, but don’t buy anything. Plan fun excursions with friends outside of work so that you don’t feel starved for social interaction.

WORK BREAK: Maybe your office is busy, busy, busy – and stepping out to buy a Venti Americano is your only chance to escape the madness and have a breather. Your coffee break provides a much-needed pause in the day, and you’ve grown used to an expensive espresso treat to provide this workday relief.

Fix: Take a walk! Your boss and co-workers would much rather you take a break and return refreshed, even if you have no concrete reason for leaving the office. Indulge in a 15-minute walk to save money, wake up and feel energized – your actions may inspire others to do the same!

A LITTLE LUXURY: Times are tough, the economy is slumping, and you’ve been cutting budget corners from your wardrobe to your pantry. A daily treat at Starbucks is a little bit of luxury to offset your tightened belt. You know that $4 per drink is ridiculous, but you feel that you work hard and deserve this small luxury. You may not be able to afford the same clothes, cars or houses as A-List celebrities – but you can drink the same exact Green Tea Frappuccino. You feel better about your place in this world with that expensive Starbucks cup in your hand.

Fix: Count your blessings – no really, write them down. It’s easy to start feeling deprived when you compare your life to those you see on TV. Find ways to feel pampered and special that don’t involve spending money, such as a morning yoga ritual, long hot shower or five minutes of meditating me-time.

NO TIME: You would love to make coffee at home, but your mornings are a whirlwind. There’s barely time for breakfast, much less to brew a pot of coffee. By the time you get to work, you NEED some caffeine as soon as possible, and you’re hungry too. You head down to Starbucks for your daily fix.

Fix: Re-examine your relationship with time, which is fluid. You will find time to do the things you want to do in life, and you will find excuses for those you don’t. Perhaps you’re using your lack of time as a convenient excuse to buy coffee every day. Instead, stock your kitchen with the needed supplies and do all the preparation the night before. Make homemade coffee just another part of your morning ritual, like brushing your teeth.

Why do you buy store-bought coffee? Maybe you just love it and don’t mind spending the cash – but realize how much your espresso habit is costing you, especially as Starbucks’ prices go up. Trust: there’s nothing more annoying than hearing someone talk about how broke they are or how they can’t afford health insurance or a vacation – and all the while they have a giant Starbucks cup in their hands. If you hit Starbucks every workday for 50 weeks a year, at $4 per drink, that’s $1000.

Give up your store-bought coffee habit, and put that money towards the real things you want in life: social outings, breaks from work, a little luxury and a bit more time. Spending money mindlessly feels good for a moment – but saving that money to buy something you’ve thought about for years (vacation with the girls, house, college fund) will be far more rewarding in the long run.

Image: nathan makan