When I decided to pursue freelance writing as a career, I knew I needed an additional source of income. Or a winning lottery ticket.
A job seemed like the better bet.
I applied to work at Starbucks because I had heard it’s an ideal place for a part-time gig. I could receive many of the same benefits as my friends who had full-time jobs, but I would only be working 25 to 30 hours per week!
The Hidden Perks of Working at Starbucks
Starbucks is known for treating its partners well. (“Partners” is what Starbucks calls its employees.)
Chances are, you’ve heard the company offers its partners retirement plans and free education through Arizona State University.
But after a few months, I began to realize that most partners at my store weren’t taking advantage of all the benefits Starbucks offered us — myself included. We either didn’t know about the perks or didn’t understand them.
I decided to do some research, and it really paid off. Who knew working at Starbucks would help me listen to music for free? Or join a fancy gym for a fraction of the price?
If you are a Starbucks partner, here are a few money-savers you may not know you have at your fingertips.
1. Free Spotify Premium
My friends and family all know I’m cheap. Well, let’s say “frugal.” That sounds nicer.
While planning my wedding, I was determined to find an alternative to paying hundreds of dollars for a DJ. I figured I would just get Spotify Premium so I could play all my music without dealing with ads or the tunes being on shuffle.
Then I realized I was too… ahem, frugal, to pay $9.99 per month for Spotify Premium.
Thankfully, a co-worker told me Spotify and Starbucks have a deal that gives partners free Spotify Premium! I signed up. And in case you were wondering, my wedding reception was the bomb.
2. Free Coffee and Tea
It’s no surprise that another Starbucks benefit is free coffee.
Starbucks partners get a free pound of coffee, K-Cup box or box of tea every week. It’s easy to take this perk for granted, but a bag of coffee can cost over $15 after tax.
Did you realize you are getting that much value each week?
My first few weeks of working, I didn’t take advantage of this benefit. My now-husband also worked at Starbucks, so I didn’t see the need for both of us to get a pound of coffee every week. I mean, I’m a coffee addict, but that’s insane!
However, to those partners who don’t see the need to use the full amount every week, I fully encourage you to start. Did you know there are countless uses for your free bags of coffee? One of my co-workers volunteered with military personnel and took her free coffee to them every week. My husband gave his groomsmen bags of coffee as thank-you gifts.
3. A 5% Jolt for Your 401(k)
Please don’t skip this section because you think retirement plans are boring and too complicated to understand. I’m amazed by how many employees don’t take advantage of this benefit: If you’re a Starbucks partner, making a little extra money for your future is pretty easy to set up through a Fidelity 401(k).
Many partners don’t know that Starbucks matches 100% of their 401(k) contributions, typically up to 4 to 6% of the employee’s salary. In 2016, it matched 5%.
Here’s an elevator speech on how it works: I put 3% of my paycheck before taxes into my 401(k), and the company would also contribute 3%. If I put 5% in, it would put 5% in, as well. If I put in a whopping 10%, it would still only match 5% of my paycheck.
I set my contribution amount to 5% so I could get the maximum contribution from Starbucks. I got paid twice per month, and my average paycheck included 60 hours. A mere $27 from those paychecks went into my 401(k), and Starbucks threw in another $27.
That’s free money that is growing on its own thanks to compound interest. I never missed it because I never touched it, and the government won’t tax me on it until I withdraw it.
Set up your 401(k) plan online, and it kicks in after 90 days on the job.
4. Gym Membership Discounts
This benefit is bittersweet: Sweet because everyone loves deals. Bitter because you are about to lose your excuse to skip going to the gym.
Starbucks has partnerships with gyms that are always trying to attract new customers. For example, Starbucks is partnered with GlobalFit. Starbucks partners in New York can join any New York Fitness Club in the GlobalFit network for only $10; typically, you’d pay a $50 initiation fee. Similar deals are available for partners in Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
Partners all over the country can also sign up at Gold’s Gym for free instead of paying a $25 initiation fee. Anytime Fitness also waves its $50 initiation fee for Starbucks partners. Joining Curves, which typically charges a $150 initiation fee, is just $10 for Starbucks employees. These deals are only a few examples of Starbucks’ year-round discounts to various gyms.
Discounted gym memberships just for being a Starbucks employee? That’s an advantage I never expected!
Now you have a way to burn off all those free pumpkin spice lattes you drink on the job.
5. Starbucks Partner Discounts Emails
In case you haven’t noticed, Starbucks provides employees a lot of goodies. They’re hard to keep track of, and new deals are always popping up.
Guess what? You don’t have to miss out on any of them.
I signed up for weekly emails from Starbucks. Once a week, I received an email about new discounts with companies ranging from AMC Theatres to Dell to Restaurant.com. It was the most foolproof way to make sure I didn’t miss an opportunity to save a little money.
As soon as your manager assigns you an ID number, you can sign up for these emails. They highlight certain deals but also lead you to Starbuckspartnerdiscounts.com, where you can find the codes you need to access your free Spotify Premium and gym discounts. You can also browse all your options for free and discounted goodies on this website!
Your Turn: Are you a Starbucks employee? What great deals have you received as a partner?
Laura Grace Tarpley is a freelance writer who is always looking for ways to save money. She recently moved to China with her new husband to teach English.