How Much Is Your Starbucks Addiction Costing You?

How much is that daily Starbucks addiction costing you? We know a lot of people who are addicted to Starbucks. Like, two or even three times a day, Starbucks drinkers. I even had a friend in high school who “could not” function without her daily dose of Starbucks.

That idea always seemed silly to me. Why spend so much every day on a habit that you allowed to develop? After all, it isn’t really Starbucks itself you’re after, it’s the caffeine that keeps us awake. So why the obsession with Starbucks and other similar coffee places?

While I don’t necessarily understand the obsession with Starbucks, I do understand the financial cost to my religious Starbucks drinker friends, and it’s not pretty.

Like anything, drinking coffee is a habit that can be amended or broken, and it would behoove you Starbucks addicts to do so to save big money.

The Latte Factor

People group toasting latte at coffee bar rooftop - Friends talking and having fun together at cappuccino restaurant - Life style concept with happy men and women at cafe terrace
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The so-called “Latte Factor” isn’t a new concept.

David Bach first coined the term in his book “The Automatic Millionaire,” and it refers to the idea that cutting out small everyday expenses will add up over the long term. Sorry, Starbucks fans, but your obsession with the coffee giant is likely blowing your budget, especially when you consider the long-term.

As of this writing, the cheapest drink on the menu is freshly brewed coffee at $2.65 for the tall size, and the most expensive is the Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino at $5.95. We know some people who get Starbucks almost every day, and often multiple times a day, so even the cheapest options add up over time.

Even going with the cheapest option every weekday could cost you between $9.25 and $18.50, depending on how many times a day you go. But what if we extrapolate those amounts over a longer period of time? Even a plain ol’ cup of Joe adds up really fast when you get it from Starbucks.

To put these numbers in perspective, my annual home insurance is only $551. This means that those of you who buy two Starbucks coffees every workday spend more on coffee in a year than I do to insure my home!

But this is only if you get the cheapest drink in the smallest size. I don’t know about you all, but I don’t know anyone who JUST gets freshly brewed coffee at Starbucks. Nor do I know anyone who gets the tall size regularly.

If you’re gonna go for Starbucks, you gotta get the Grande size, right? And on top of that, you need to get something special, like a latte, iced coffee, refresher, macchiato, or Frappuccino.

Here’s where it’s going to get expensive.

While you’ll only spend $100 to $200 a year if you get these drinks once per week, the numbers get much scarier the more often you drink Starbucks. If you get a Grande-sized iced tea (or equivalent) once every weekday, you end up spending over $500 a year on Starbucks. That number jumps to over $1,000 if you get it twice every workday.

Remember, this is just for an iced tea. The numbers go way up for the fancier drinks. Getting a chai tea latte (or equivalent) every workday will run you over $1,000 over the course of a year and over $2,000 if you get it twice every workday.

We’re sorry, but no matter how you try to justify it, there is absolutely no reason to spend $1,000 or more on Starbucks a year. There just isn’t.

Because you have other options.

Ways to Kick the Starbucks Habit

recipe for cafe de olla
Source: Robert Briggs /

Before we go any further, we want to make this very clear.


Absolutely not.

Getting a coffee once in a while or meeting a friend at Starbucks to catch up may be appropriate.

There are even ways you can get free Starbucks drinks.

When it comes to an everyday coffee habit, what we are suggesting is that you make a smart financial decision and go for alternatives to Starbucks that give you the thing you want/need for much less.

Remember, the purpose of coffee is caffeine.

Luckily, there are TONS of options out there that are much cheaper than Starbucks.

1. McCafé

McCafe is a coffee-house-style food and drink chain, owned by McDonald's.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

I know, I know, it’s McDonald’s, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than Starbucks.

A small premium roast coffee will only run you $1.00 (compared to $2.65 at Starbucks), and a medium latte is only $2.89 (compared to $4.25 for the chai tea latte).

Your once-a-week yearly cost is cut in half from $88.80 with a Starbucks small coffee to $48 with a small McDonald’s coffee. Similarly, the five times weekly cost is cut from $444 to $240, and the ten times weekly cost from $888 to $480.

You’re saving between $40.80 and $408 a year (depending on how often you get coffee) just by switching to McDonald’s.

The difference for the medium latte is similarly drastic. These numbers are still painful, but they do save you drastically over buying at Starbucks.

For example, buying once a week at McDonald’s will save you $65.28 over a year, while buying five times a week will save you $326.40, and buying ten times a week will save you $652.80.

While this is much better than Starbucks, if I were you, I’d look into one of the following options below to save even more money on your daily caffeine.

2. Brew Your Own

woman with coffee cup
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Mila Supinskaya Glas

I’ll admit I don’t like coffee except with a lot of sugar and creamer in it, so brewing my own coffee isn’t for me. However, if you like just plain ol’ coffee, then this option beats Starbucks or any other coffee joint any day.

Whether you like to use Keurig cups or buy coffee in bulk, you’ll save a ton of money by brewing your own drinks.

Here come the “yeah buts.”


With so many fancy gadgets out there, making coffee at home or work is easier than ever before and won’t take any longer than the time it takes to grab something at Starbucks. First, it takes time to stop or walk to Starbucks. Second, think about the time you wait in line just to place your order, especially at busy times. Third, you then have to wait for the drink to be prepared.

By the time you’ve gone to Starbucks, waited in line, and finally gotten the drink, you could have spent 10 to 20 minutes! You could have used that time for extra sleep!

Making coffee at home (or work) takes half the time and costs a fraction of just one Starbucks drink.

3. Buy Packaged Fancy Drinks

A view of a hand holding a bottle of Starbucks Iced Espresso Caffe Latte, on display at a local grocery store.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

This one is more my speed, although I try to limit this option because I’m trying to stay off sugar as much as possible. However, for those of you who “need” your lattes or iced coffees, buying pre-packaged fancy drinks at the grocery store is another option.

I have tried several different brands, and they all taste delicious at a fraction of the cost. You can get vanilla and caramel iced coffee, macchiatos, and other options in a large container that will last you several days for $4 to $6. You can even serve most hot or cold.

Spending $4-$6 for something that will last me 3 or 4 days is a much better value than spending over $4 for one drink, and you can even get options made by Starbucks!

4. Switch to Tea

turkish tea
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Last but not least, you can save the most time and money by switching to tea.

Tea is my preferred method of getting the caffeine I need because it’s so cheap and easy to make, and there are tons of great flavors to try. My personal favorite is Spice Chai tea, but no matter the flavor you like best, you can generally get a box of 20 or so teabags for $3 or $4.

At this price, if I drink two cups a day, I will have enough tea for two full workweeks for only $4. Extrapolated over a year, my tea addiction is costing me only about $100 a year.

Compare that to the $888 a year you’d spend on Starbucks brewed coffee, and I call that major money earned through money saved!

Moral of the Story

woman with starbucks coffee
Image Credit: Pexels/Nelson Ribeiro

To put it simply, the Latte Factor is still in full effect when it comes to Starbucks.

Even with the cheapest drink (brewed coffee), you would spend $88.80 a year once a week, $444 a year once a workday, and a whopping $888 a year for twice-daily workweek Starbucks excursions.

There’s just no reason to spend that much money on caffeine when there are so many other cheaper options out there (unless you’re getting free drinks at Starbucks).

While you could switch to a cheaper vendor (such as the McCafé) and cut your spending in half, my recommendation would be to brew your own coffee, buy pre-packaged fancy drinks at the grocery store, or switch to drinking tea.

Brewing your own coffee or tea will always give you the biggest bang for your buck, but it’s up to you.

And the thing is, Starbucks is okay once in a while. However, the main difference between Starbucks and other brands/methods is the social status factor attached to it.

Are you really willing to pay double for social status?

We’re also definitely not advocating for dropping coffee altogether. All we’re saying is to be smart and don’t waste your money when you can get the same benefit at a much cheaper cost.

Remember, consumerism to frugalism.

It’s time to analyze how much your Starbucks addiction is costing you and, maybe, to put that money to better use.

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Robin Edwards, often hailed as "The Penny Hunter" by her close circle, is not just a financial writer; she's a financial educator committed to helping people understand the value of every penny. With a background in finance and a knack for simplifying complex financial concepts, Robin has become a go-to resource for those looking to take control of their financial destiny. With her zero-based budgeting method, she's changing the way we think about money, one dollar at a time.