Coffee: defined as the fuel that keeps college students going. Morning after morning thousands of students hop in their cars or walk down the street (or even across campus) for their morning coffee from places like Starbucks to spend more than $5 on just one cup. Of course, they probably are not purchasing your average, plain cup of coffee, but something filled with an assortment of unnatural flavors and textures. As good as this Iced Caramel Macchiato (but what even is that?), or Mocha Frappucino (again, what?) may taste, your wallet is seriously suffering the blow just as badly as your insides are.
1. Dining hall coffee
The first solution to this ever-growing issue is just grabbing a cup of coffee from the dining hall in the morning. It is as good as free since you have already paid for your meal plan and it is simple enough to save you the stomach ache and extra calories. Of course, this is never quite as appealing as that flavored cup of who-knows-what from Starbucks, but with a little creativity you could have your morning caffeine with something a little better tasting than school coffee.
Here is your simple solution to boring old coffee: mix other drinks with your coffee. For example, half hot chocolate and half coffee is way better than straight coffee. Also, when you get your coffee from the dining hall you can avoid the additional charges for extra milk or sugar. Feel free to stand by the coffee station and pour as much milk as you believe your stomach can handle without the extra cost.
2. Reward program
If you absolutely cannot stand the thought of ditching your morning Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts routine, at least find a way to save money at the same time. If you buy a gift card at either location, you can download their app and earn points (stars at Starbucks) to earn extra drinks or snacks later on. In some ways these programs can cause you to actually spend more money, because once you start earning points you may want to reach that next level or free drink sooner. Though if you spend money on coffee nearly everyday anyway this will actually save you the cost of a few drinks.
These can be super addictive, because in both apps you can see how far away you are from the next level which obviously makes you want to go back and hit it sooner. Additionally, you have to pay through the app which means you will have to buy a gift card and continue to reload it with your credit or debit card whenever you run out of money. The fact that you never have to see the real money could cause you to spend even more money than you planned to. On the other hand, seeing the dollar amount left on your card or in your account can help you budget the amount of money you spend each day. So if you do decide to use reward programs, set limits on how much you would like to spend each week or month.
3. Simple orders
The best way to save money on your morning coffee without sticking to the dining hall selection is simply to choose less expensive drinks. Simplify your order from a sweet, calorie-filled dessert-like drink to a simple cup of hot coffee. Regular, hot coffee can be dollars cheaper than the fancy frozen or flavored alternatives. Just check the menu next time you are in a Starbucks, how much can you save by drinking regular coffee every morning or at least a few times a week. There is even a difference in the price of iced coffee versus hot. The hot coffee is always less expensive, but still gives you energy for the rest of your day.
Another way to save money is by choosing less expensive places to get your coffee. Dunkin Donuts is significantly cheaper than Starbucks and even though the taste is not the same, you can play around with your order and choose iced or frozen flavored drinks and still save money that you would have spent at a Starbucks.
Your daily cup of coffee does not have to significantly drain your bank account. By making smarter choices, also for your health, you can avoid overspending on something as simple as your morning coffee.