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After I Spent $300 on Starbucks in a Month, I Devised a 5-Step Plan to Kick My Habit


This is not one of those inspiring, insightful personal essays, complete with an epiphany moment and perfect ending. No, this is about my very serious and downright embarrassing addiction to Starbucks. We’re talking real #firstworldproblems here. 

It started with a casual conversation with my best friend. We were both catching up and sharing our “shoulds” of life, and I mentioned how much I needed to kick my Starbucks habit. “I think it would save me a lot of money,” I said. 

Curious at just how much money we were talking, I opened the bank app on my phone and counted up my spend for an entire month. I was in shock to learn I’d spent more than $300 during the month of June.

I immediately started thinking of the justifications for it: The breakfast is so convenient. Work had been really stressful. School was out, and I’d been buying drinks for my kids. I work hard, so I deserve it!

But in the end, I have to admit that all the reasons were lame. Here I was, a mom of two without a lot of extra funds floating around, and I’d just spent $300 on Starbucks in matter of 30 days. How could this happen? 

Instead of wallowing in my shame with a venti iced chai, I decided to give myself an intervention, which I’m still in the middle of right now. Here are the steps I’m using to overcome my Starbucks addiction. If you happen to be in a similar situation, I hope they might help you, too. 

1. Read the nutritional value on your favorite drink so you can be properly shamed.

If you’re just drinking regular coffee, this might not apply to you. But if you’ve gotten sucked into the delicious, amazing, and totally sugary drinks of Starbucks (yes, even the non-fat ones), you can probably relate to this. My beloved iced chai is 240 calories! This includes 42 grams of sugar, and 44 carbs. Eek! The truth hurts.

Drinking calories is a weakness of mine, but the truth is there. Once I saw the nutrition (or lack thereof) in my favorite drink, it helped me realize just how much I really needed to cut back. 

2. Confess your addiction to those closest to you so they can hold you accountable. 

This part might not be easy —but there’s a good chance they already know! Um, yeah, the people around you are not blind. Tell them about your goal to reduce your Starbucks intake, and ask them to hold you accountable. 

My kids have had great fun in doing this. “Didn’t you say you were only going to have two a week, Mom? Isn’t this three?” For better or worse, get your closest allies to help you stick to your plan. You may not be strong enough to do this on your own, and that’s perfectly OK. 

3. Break up the morning routine, so you can stop going out of sheer habit. 

For me, the morning is definitely my downfall. I like to get up, go for a run (on a good day), and hit my local Starbucks just a couple miles away. Then I settle in to work for the day, with my low-calorie egg bites and yummy chai tea latte. It’s like the best way to start the day; it simply makes me happy. 

If you have a similar routine, then the most important thing you can do is break it up. Change up the order, or find a new thing to make you happy in the morning. Save the happy Starbucks routine for a reward day; maybe Fridays. Or if you’re brave enough, just quit cold turkey and never look back. Your wallet will thank you. 

4. Come up with alternative drink ideas, and actually have them on hand. 

There are a couple of different approaches to this one. You could make your own version of your favorite drink at home. After all, you like what you like, right? However, you might not ever get it to be quite the same. In this case, try coming up with alternative drinks instead. This way, you can form a totally new — but cheaper and healthier — habit. 

For me, this has been infused teas. If I need something like my chai, I’ll do a London fog (black tea and milk with a tiny bit of vanilla). Or if I need some sweet, I’ll do a half tea and half lemonade. By having these ideas at my fingertips — and the ingredients in my cupboard — I don’t have an easy excuse to hit the drive thru instead. 

5. Set aside the money saved to spend on something splurgy and wonderful. 

It really helps to see how much money you’re saving. If you’re a mom, chances are you’ll just put it back into your kids. But I think it’s important to have at least one splurge for the month to commemorate your change. 

I can think of about a dozen splurges I’d like, including a dinner out at a cool, new restaurant, a really nice bottle of wine, a massage, or this amazing perfume I’ve been eyeing up but haven’t bought because it’s so expensive. I’m going to choose one to enjoy next month as a reward for my good behavior, and I’ll still be coming out ahead with my savings. 

If you’re working through a Starbucks addiction, I wish you the best. Seriously, there are bigger problems in the world to conquer. 

This post was written by Stacy Tornio, the author of The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book and the mom of two adventurous kids. Together, they like planning vacations centered around the national parks.

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