Really, Dave? $10,000 just by giving up soda? Is that possible?
Maybe, but first, a story…ripped from the headlines.
I had just signed on to a contract job, working downtown Chicago, and that meant that I was back in the rat race. That means 9 to 5, commutes, the occasional trip to Starbucks, and taking a lunch.
And there was no way in heck I was taking a lunch. I’m not the brown bag person – plus, if my commute is an hour door to door, then there’s a chance that my brown bag sandwich would spoil. Or someone could smash it while I was on the train. Or cyborgs could run roughshod through Chicago, stealing the lunches of unsuspecting chaps like me. Or…
Excuses, excuses. But I wasn’t taking my lunch, that was that. So I had to hold my costs down.
About the same time, my wife had made the switch and become a vegetarian – so I decided to show some solidarity: giving up soda was going to be my thing. I was prepared to show my strength through a soda-free lifestyle, and I would use that opportunity to set aside a few dollars, too.
Yay, me! (If you want to read what that first year without soda was like, take a look here.)
Easier said than done.
I know what you’re thinking here: this is akin to an old joke…
Husband comes home from work and tells wife “I just saved two us two bucks, I walked home instead of taking the bus!”
Wife responds: “You could have saved us five bucks by walking home instead of taking a cab.”
Plus, saving, what, a buck fifty each workday, multiplied by 250 workdays a year, equals only $375 – well short of the $10,000 the headline tells you that you can save.
Work with me here…not only can this start to add up, but you can also see some extra benefits elsewhere. Maybe a little “psychic income” – or the feeling that you’re making strides toward, well, if not financial freedom, at least a little financial liberation.
1. Avoiding the Super Size, heading for the Dollar Menu.
If you’re looking to take that $1.50 a day you save and turn it into a few bucks a day, well then…Dollar Menu!
Or, at the least, go a la carte.
I remember, when I had that contract gig, I’d visit the Subway once a week. You should have seen the look on the Subway Sandwich Artist’s face when I would order the $5 foot long and…nothing else. What? You don’t want the soda and chips that you can get for an extra couple dollars?
No, thanks. There’s water at the office.
2. Avoiding HFCS, Caramel Coloring, and other junk.
News Flash: Soda is bad for you.
Even if you’re still on the fence on the High Fructose Corn Syrup debate – heck, even the Mayo Clinic is on the fence on the High Fructose Corn Syrup debate – you can certainly buy into the fact that the less sweeteners of any kind, plus the less chemicals and artificial ingredients of any kind, equals less trips to the doctor. Do the math: what’s your copay? What do prescriptions cost? What’s the cost of Type 2 Diabetes? Sounds extreme – but cutting out processed foods can have a tremendous health benefit, and if you can’t quit Hamburger Helper cold turkey, at least quit some chemicals.
3. Oh yeah, tap water.
We mentioned it last week in our post on Finding Money in the Couch Cushions. Tap water is so much cheaper than bottled water, and bottled water is a ripoff.
Instead of hitting you over the head with the savings, though, let’s instead talk about proper hydration. Experts recommend eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. You can even find handy online hydration calculators that will tell you whether you should have MORE than 8 glasses a day.
You’ll feel healthier, you’ll have more energy, and you won’t watch money disappearing every time you super-size or pop open a can of sugar water.
So, Dave, this $10,000 I’ll save from giving up soda? Where is it?
Sure, that was a sensational headline – but the real point of the article – AND of this site – is to show you steps you can take, large and small, that can pay off.
No, you’re not going to save $10,000 from giving up soda – directly – and it might take years for the payoff to be evident. But part of the reason this is so important…
I started small – this is one step I made in my own journey. It’s pretty safe to say that I’m not going back to soda. It was a habit, but there was also a financial cost to that habit, and a new habit formed – a buck here, a buck there. Trust me, it starts to add up: not just the money you don’t spend and then save, but the accomplishment you feel.
You can do this – whatever the saving or spending or moneymaking “this” is that you need to change, fix, or make better – if you have the mindset.