Saving Money and Starbucks: A Parent’s Struggle

kissing starbucks cup
I don’t always match my straw…

If you’re anything like me, saving money is something that you think about doing a lot more often than you actually do it. Thanks, Target! I have recently realized however, that my kids’ toy cars are nicer than my actual car. So I decided it was time to really buckle down in order to buckle in to an upgraded vehicle. For this, I turned to the experts. Seemingly every financial Tom, Dick and Suze I read had the same advice: give up expensive coffee drinks if I want to get ahead on saving money. In theory, this seems reasonable. Buying these drinks isn’t a necessity, especially when I have a perfectly good coffee maker at home. How hard could it be?

But then I tried to do it. I failed miserably.

I don’t like admitting defeat, so it really bothered me that I couldn’t accomplish this seemingly simple task. Then one day, as I was driving my oldest son around town to run errands, something he said made it click for me. It’s like Oprah was sitting in the passenger seat nodding her head and saying, “Yeah girl, this is your ‘aha moment’!”  I told him I wanted to stop and get a coffee before we went to the next store. “Why? You can just make coffee at home. It’s the same thing.” Et tu, Brute? 

But it’s not the same thing. Not even remotely. And here’s why.

Making coffee for myself at home is as pointless as trying to convince my two-year-old that banging his spoon against the table over and over again isn’t it’s actual purpose. Between my two kids and very large dog all making demands of me and vying to reign supreme in the “Morning’s Most Needy” category, it takes a solid twenty to thirty minutes after getting into the kitchen for me to even approach the Keurig with any confidence that I’ll actually be able to use the Keurig.

It has taken me 30 minutes just to get to this point. The children are now pouring yogurt on the dog. BRB

That’s just the beginning though. Even if I’m able to successfully make the coffee, I’m hardly ever able to drink the coffee. Because after it’s made, it will sit. And sit. Then it will sit some more, until what was once a cup of hot coffee is now as cold as my children’s hearts when it comes to giving a crap if mommy gets caffeinated or not!

Ice cold disappointment in a cup.

When I go to Starbucks though, none of these things happen. At Starbucks, not only do they ask me what I want and can make it appear mere moments later; they ask me something else that certainly does not happen at home.

And that is, my name.

No, not Mommy, Mama, Mom or MOOOOOOOOM. But me, Kelly. It’s amazing what hearing the sound of my own first name can feel like after being “Mommed” into oblivion some days.

Sometimes you wanna go, where everybody knows your name.

I’m not saying that getting these drinks is a necessity. It certainly is not. I’m not saying it isn’t a reasonable thing to track when it comes to expenses. I’m just saying that for us worn out moms and dads out there, getting our overpriced coffee drinks can have way more value than the $4 price tag. So I challenge you, financial experts of the world, to try harder.  Dig deeper. There must be some other way a mom like me can be saving money without having to give up the little slice of joy getting my iced tall soy latte brings me. Surely somewhere in the thousands and thousands of dollars I spend each year on child-related expenses there are ways to save?

How about instead of taking away my coffees, you advise me to stop spending 20 bucks a pop on a gift for every kid’s birthday party we attend? If my math is right, we went to about 9,000 of them last year, so surely there’s some savings to be had there! Oh, and maybe you could tell me how I don’t actually need to buy organic, non-GMO everything because my kid never eats his damn lunch anyway. Maybe we start with that, huh?

So to all you parents out there, the next time you feel pressured to drive past your favorite coffee shop because some bossy such and such told you that’s the path towards saving money, remember this. You will probably spend more in one day for your kid’s birthday party than you will on your coffee drinks for the entire year. The entire year!

To that I say, pull on in, order your grande half-caff cappuccino with light foam and tell little Sally birthday parties only happen on even years and this year she’s turning seven. Treat yo self!

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