If you love pumpkin spice lattes, this is probably your favorite time of year. That’s right, Starbucks recently rolled out its signature fall drink, which means fall is officially upon us.
This year, the PSL will be sold alongside a brand-new drink — the chile mocha. The spicy but sweet concoction will be available for a limited time, starting September 6th.
While “skipping the Starbucks” is often touted as a way to save money, you can enjoy this fall flavor without blowing your budget. Here’s how to save money on pumpkin spice lattes all autumn long.
1. Join My Starbucks Rewards
Download the Starbucks app to start getting free drinks — including PSLs.
Starting out at the green level, you’ll earn two “stars” for every $1 purchase and automatically receive free in-store refills on brewed coffee and tea.
If you earn 300 stars in 12 months, you’ll reach gold level, earning you additional benefits — including a monthly double star day on purchases. You’ll get a free beverage or food item for every 125 stars you earn. That means you’ll earn one free item after every $62.50 you spend — about 26 venti coffees.
While that may seem like a good chunk of change to spend to get a reward, remember that it’s pretty easy to rack up a bill at Starbucks without even realizing it, even when you try your best not to. That extra shot of espresso, added flavor and morning bagel all come at a cost.
Thankfully, the rewards program provides a bit of relief — the more stars you earn, the more perks you get.
If you just can’t quit Starbucks, this is a good way to at least earn a few rewards (like free drinks) on your purchases.
2. Buy Discounted Starbucks Gift Cards
Use Raise, Gift Card Granny and other discounted gift card sites to stretch your coffee dollars further. Just buy a gift card for less than its face value, and you’ll get more for your money at Starbucks.
As of this writing, you’ll save around 5% by buying a gift card on one of these sites, but keep an eye out for bigger discounts.
3. Join My Panera
Starbucks isn’t the only chain offering up a pumpkin spice latte. Panera Bread stores will be offering a similar concoction from now until the end of the year.
To save on its version of the PSL, join the My Panera program for discounts and freebies. “Once we get an idea of what bakery-cafe items you prefer, we’ll do our best to reward you with more surprises based on what you love,” reads the website.
So, presumably, the more pumpkin spice lattes you purchase at Panera, the more likely you are to get one as a freebie.
4. Celebrate Your Fall Birthday
If you’re lucky enough to be born in the fall, celebrate your birthday by indulging in a free pumpkin spice latte.
If you’re a member of My Starbucks Rewards, you’ll enjoy a free drink on your birthday. Why not make it a pumpkin spice latte?
Dunkin Donuts also offers free birthday drinks through its DD Perks Rewards program, and it has an extensive pumpkin spice menu.
Many other cafes also offer free birthday drinks, so if you find yourself at a coffee shop with pumpkiny concoctions on your birthday, be sure to ask!
5. Make a DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte
Indulge in a pumpkin spice latte any time you like with this great do-it-yourself recipe from Farm Girl Gourmet. This recipe makes two 10-ounce lattes, so you can even share one with a friend.
- 2 cups milk
- 4 tablespoons canned (or homemade) pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ½ cup strong coffee or espresso
- whipped cream
Stir the milk, pumpkin puree, sugar, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice together in a pan over medium-high heat. Bring it almost to a boil, but avoid boiling because that will make it too thick. Stir constantly and it should start to froth in about a minute.
Pour the concoction into two mugs, then slowly add the strong coffee or espresso, pouring it in by the edge of the cup so the milk stays frothy. Add whipped cream and a dash of pumpkin pie spice on top and indulge in your homemade creation.
6. Make DIY Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer
This simple recipe from Delish requires just five ingredients and produces 1 ¾ cups of pumpkin spice creamer to add to your coffee.
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream or half-and-half
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
Whisk together the heavy cream or half-and-half, pumpkin puree, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice in a small pan over medium heat. Add a cinnamon stick or two and turn up the heat a bit until it boils, whisking occasionally.
After a minute, take it off the heat and let it cool for about five minutes before you add it to your coffee.
According to Delish, the leftover creamer will keep in your refrigerator for a week, but be sure to give it a good shake before using.
7. Enjoy Pumpkin Spice Oreos
While this tasty treat won’t give you the warm coffee fix you’re craving, who wouldn’t want to snack on a few delicious pumpkin spice Oreo cookies?
One package of these limited edition cookies is only $3 on Peapod, an online grocery delivery service. While Peapod’s minimum of $60 per order may intimidate you, don’t forget that grocery delivery services can actually be a smart money move.
And if you’re standing in line for your first PSL right now, take a few minutes to check out the drink’s fun Twitter account.
Your Turn: Are you a PSL fan? What’s your favorite way to save money on it?
Disclosure: We have a serious Taco Bell addiction around here. The affiliate links in this post help us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!
Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.