Counting the Cost (of Coffee)

Here's the deal: after dropping the kids off at school (especially if it's a rainy day), I love to stop by my local Starbucks and grab a tall, decaf, white chocolate mocha. Or, since I started paying attention to the calorie counts (oof!), a tall, decaf, caramel macchiato. And once they start handing out those Pumpkin Spice Lattes...Katie, bar the door! I. AM. THERE. I may totally disagree with their corporate politics and anti-straw stance, but I am a sucker for their coffee.

While residing in Central America for two months to finalize the adoption, one of our few moments of relief from the continual stress we were under was to stop by the lone Starbucks, located (conveniently) right off the highway that took us to our rental. And when the giant billboard went up on the road home, announcing that #PSL had arrived, I almost cried tears of joy. A taste of fall in the summer-like heat! Glorious.

Once we returned to the U.S., life was chaotic for quite some time. True story: the Hubs and I would take turns sneaking out through our bedroom window to get groceries after the kids were in bed, grabbing a moment of quiet sanity and - occasionally - a detour to Starbucks to grab a couple of specialty coffees that we would sneak back into the house to share with the spouse who stayed at home. This soon became a habit that led to Gold Status, setting up an auto-refill amount on our Starbucks card, and downloading the app for quick scan and pay at the drive-thru. They made it so easy to buy, we didn't notice right away how fast it was adding up.

Photo by Hans Vivek on Unsplash
Financially, we've been all over the map during our eighteen years of marriage. We've been laser-focused, targeting our home mortgage and reducing the balance to $0 in just 11 years (out of a planned 30), but we've also had times when we've had to watch the bank account balance vs. the credit card balance, borrowing from savings to make sure we don't carry it over to the next month. In short, self-discipline in the financial department has been a long-term struggle. And the coffee isn't helping.

As much as I love my Starbucks stops, a few months ago I realized it was draining our wallets and adding to our waistlines (like I said, those calories are killer!), and something needed to change. So we slowed down on the stops, and I started looking for deals on grocery store Starbucks to make at home. In addition to making real coffee in our French press, I discovered that their little Via packets, when paired with Coffee-mate, Natural Bliss, Sweet Cream flavor cream (from the dairy section), really aren't that bad. Even the Hubs was surprised. And better still, I got them on clearance for $2.99 a box. That's 7 cups of (yummy) coffee for less than the cost of two cups at the drive-thru. Cha-ching!

As we've recently switched back to a 50/50 system (cash for half of the stuff we buy monthly, and the other half - known expenses - on the credit card to earn points back), it's made us even more aware of how much we were mindlessly spending - and not just at Starbucks. Dave Ramsey's point that handing over cash hurts a lot more, is spot on. So while there is, at least for us, still a time and a place for those #PSL stops, it's now been budgeted and thought out, not just a random stop when the day has been stressful. It seems that my desire for simplicity and minimalism has now extended to my wallet. Sorry, Starbucks. 

If you're interested in learning more about simple living, enrollment for the uncluttered course from becoming minimalist blogger, Joshua Becker, opens one week from today (August 24). If you want a reminder to sign up, fill out the form HERE


  1. Adoptive mom here too 🙋. I also need to get my "I've had a stressful day" drive thru spending down. The sneaking out for groceries made me laugh. I totally understand that one!

    1. HA! Glad it struck a chord with you, Crys! Oh, the things that they don't cover in pre-adoption training, eh? ;) Thanks for taking the time to stop by and say hello!

  2. I LOVE that creamer!! My favorite. Also, I didn’t know anyone was anti the anti-straw stance- interesting to hear another perspective! :)

    1. The whole "ditch the straws" thing in California is just a bit too over the top for me. Common sense seems to be a thing of the past. :)


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