how to save money on starbucks

Wondering how to save money on Starbucks? You're not alone.

Starbucks gets badmouthed by a lot of people who feel it is an unjustifiably expensive bad habit. But, a cup of coffee is hardly the end of the world and it is not some Sodom and Gomorrah level of debauchery. Additionally, there is more to Starbucks than just coffee.

Like any expense, if you do it habitually, it can really add up. Here's how to save money on Starbucks.

​Join The Starbucks Rewards Program

This is the single biggest thing you can do to save money on your Starbucks habit. Bonus: It saves you money even if you do not in any way change your habits.

You need to have a Starbucks gift card to join this program. You can buy one with as little as $5 on it and then register the card online for free.

Once you've joined, you get a free drink on your birthday. When you have accumulated enough stars for Gold status, they send you a gold card with a penny on it. (Hey, if you are counting your pennies, then pennies count.)

You get a free drink every time you accumulate 125 stars. You get two stars for every dollar spent.

One of the cool things here: The free drink can be any size. If you normally get a smaller size to save a bit of money, you can splurge once in a while completely for free and get the larger size when you get your free drink.

You can also sometimes get stars for completing surveys or buying certain items on their menu during certain time frames. So pay attention to your emails.

Check Your Receipt​

Sometimes, your Starbucks receipt will have a promotion on it. It will say something like "Come in before 11 a.m. before X date and get a sandwich for just $2.50."

​Make It a Lunch

​They actually sell food at Starbucks. It isn't just fancy coffee. If you normally spend $2 or more on a soda with lunch at a fast food place, you can defray your Starbucks coffee by having lunch there and getting a coffee instead of a cola elsewhere.

​Bring Your Own Cup

They will give you a small discount for providing your own coffee cup.

reusable coffee cup

14oz Reusable To Go Brown Travel Mug

You can take this awesome reusable, biodegradable coffee cup from the folks at Travel Mug at Starbucks. You'll save a few bucks and you're helping the environment.

Sign Up For The Email List

​If you sign up for their email list, you can get 10 percent off your next order and also get emails notifying you of useful information. Signing up for their newsletter also gets you 10 percent of your next order.

Join Microsoft Rewards​

​Bing Rewards recently became Microsoft Rewards. You can get points for Bing Search, Bing Mobile Search, using their browser or spending money in the Microsoft store online.

​Depending upon which options you use, you can rack up one to two $5 Starbucks gift cards every month. They easily can be loaded to your Starbucks Rewards card. Just click "Add to my account" -- or similar, depending upon whether you are on a PC of a mobile device -- and log into your account.

​If you are on a mobile device, you will need the mobile app to make this work. Whatever device you are on, it takes a few clicks to confirm the transfer, then you get an email notifying you of the completed transfer.

​This is like double savings, because if you transfer it to your registered Rewards card, you get stars when you spend it. Enough stars equals another free drink after getting free gift cards.

Learn Your Menu Options​

​There is more to Starbucks than coffee. Find out what else they sell and see what you like that costs less.

​The online lists tend to be unreliable for this sort of information, but asking your barista questions when things aren't too busy can be extremely helpful. You can let them know your budget for that visit and your taste preferences and they can help you get hooked up with something tasty in your price range.

​One of the reasons it is better to ask your barista is because prices can change or may vary from place to place. So, getting a list of prices online can result in your going there and being disappointed.

​The other thing is that these online lists typically focus on price only. It really doesn't account for personal tastes.

​If you are trying to save money, it is galling to get something cheap only to find you won't actually drink it. Talking to your barista can help you find both a price and a taste that you like.

Once you have learned a few options that you actually like, it makes it easier to get your Starbucks fix while being mindful of the budget. A Starbucks habit is only painful if you are mindless about it.​