Friday, February 17, 2012

How To Save Money On Your Coffee Habit

Regular Starbucks Coffee tumbler, as sold in 2...Image via WikipediaAmericans love their coffee. According to , the United States is the foremost coffee-drinking country in the world. Americans are responsible for drinking down over 400 million cups a day. Sometimes I think I'm to blame for at least half that.

Coffee lovers listen up: It may be time to re-evaluate your morning jolt. Time Moneyland recently reported that Starbucks is raising prices because of increased costs for fuel and coffee beans. A "tall" (Starbucks version of a small) order of numerous coffee drinks now costs 10 cents more than last year in many parts of the U.S., including Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Washington D.C., and New York. Not a lot as a percentage but it can add up over a year. This news comes on top of price increases instituted in 2011 by many other coffee shops.

Is their a way to tone down your coffee habit while still getting your caffeine fix?

Let's take a look.

Stop Ordering Specialty Drinks.

Those with a latte addiction should read over at Yahoo Finance that a daily $4 latte adds up to roughly $28 a week, which is the equivalent of about $120 a month and $1,460 a year. Think of all the things you could do with that cash. Making the switch to a simple cup of brewed coffee can cut your spending by nearly half.

Order a Smaller Size.

Reduce your spending further by ordering a smaller serving size. You'll still get your caffeine fix but save roughly 50 to 75 cents a day, depending on prices at your local coffee shop.

Use Your Own Cup.

Many coffee shops, from large chains to local independents, are trying to save money and reduce costs. And cutting down on disposable cups is a good way to reduce waste. Starbucks , for one, encourages customers to use their own travel mug by offering a 10-cent discount -- an easy way to offset that 10-cent price hike.

Make Your Own.

Making coffee at home is an even better way to save money. Need proof? An analysis conducted by Daily Finance that pitted a $2.29 Starbucks "grande" (medium) regular coffee against the (approximate) 17-cent cost of brewing a cup at home found the annual savings amounted to $835.85. This doesn't take into account the newest method in home brewing -- the pod, which makes quick, convenient single-serving cups but raises the per cup cost by 40 to 50 cents. Still, that's cheaper than stopping by the coffee shop every morning, although the pods aren't particularly environmentally friendly.

If you're looking to start making your own cup o' Joe, you'll have to make an upfront investment in a coffee maker. Not to worry - the expense is recouped many times over in the first year alone.

Stop the Habit Altogether.

If you're really serious about saving, forget all these suggestions on how to cut coffee costs. The best way to curb spending is to quit coffee for good. Granted, it's not easy -- if it were, no frugal consumer would be stuck with a coffee habit. The best way to quit while minimizing or avoiding withdrawal symptoms is to wean yourself gradually. Sip from smaller cups each week or try going half regular and half decaf until you can go without entirely. Once you break the habit, you might try green, black, and red rooibos teas, which all offer the same richness as coffee with much less (or no) caffeine.

I won't be doing that.
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