As we get closer to the holidays, we tend to eat and drink more than usual. Especially if we are getting together with family and friends several times during the season. All in all, we end up spending a ton of money on food and drinks. Here at Saving For Hope, we had dedicated a couple of posts related to food. However, very little is written about drinks. The reality is that drinks (in a variety of forms) take away hundreds of dollars from families every year. Have you ever stop and wonder the cost of your drinking habits? And we are not even just talking about alcohol, but all types of drinks like sodas, coffee, tea and worst of all, “energy drinks”.
Here in this post I want to take a moment and break down the cost of drinks and the potential impact that this might have to your family’s finances.
The actual cost of drinks: It is estimated that the average household in the USA spends about 1% of their gross annual income on alcohol. This amount its estimated to be around $600 per year (which in my estimation it’s a pretty conservative number). Coffee takes about $20 a week from the average US worker, and soft drinks deduct $850 a year from our budgets. You get the idea, drinks cost us a lot of money every year. If you add just these three categories’ averages (alcohol, soda and coffee) you are looking at almost $2,500.00 gulped up every year. This does not even account for bottled water, which takes another huge chunk of our incomes.
The hidden cost of drinks: On the other hand, if you save the same $2,500.00 a year, that can potentially be an increase of over $200 per month. These could be invested towards financial goals like retirement, acquiring property or paying for an education. Over a lifetime, these savings could be the difference between enjoying a nice retirement, or having to work part-time at Walmart at age 70 because you need to supplement your income.
Of course, we are not suggesting here that you never enjoy another coffee, a cup of wine, or a soft drink ever again. But at least it is important that you become aware of the potential financial trade off and its impact to your finances in the future. There is nothing more enjoyable when we eat with family and friends. There is nothing wrong with that! But think about this: what if you could save and invest about half of that average of $2,500? It will be nice to have another $100 per month to save and invest! Well maybe these few ideas can help you get there faster.
A few tips to help you save on drinks:
- When you go out to a restaurant to eat, drink tap water instead of bottled or soft drinks. This can save an average of $7.00 for a meal for two. This is a significant saving that will add up to a nice pile of cash at the end of the year.
- When you go to your local Starbucks on a chilly day, drink regular coffee instead of those fancy drinks with intricate names! My rule of thumb is: the weirder the name the pricier it gets. This alone can help you save about $2.00 per drink. If you are a coffee drinker like I am, this simple change will help you stay on track to save money.
- When you go to the gas station to fill up your car stay away from soft and energy drinks. (I mean it!! They are terrible for you). The average cost of an energy drink is about $3.00. If you stop spending this once or twice a week, your body will thank you and your wallet will be healthy as well.
- When you go out to drink (or drink at home) with family or friends, have a limit on the number of alcoholic beverages you consume. Another practical tip that I got from a friend was, to choose in restaurants drinks that you may consume slower like wine instead of sweet drinks that you might consume faster. This helps you stay on track and spend less on a night out with loved ones. Here is a nice alcoholic drink calculator that can help you understand how much money you are spending on your drinking habits.
- When you go out for your regular jog around the block, try to use a refillable water bottle instead of the disposable ones. This habit can save you around $5.00 a week. If you live in a climate as hot as Florida (which is hot all the time!) you can save a lot of money during the year as you stay hydrated.
These few practical advices can help you increase your chances of saving more money every month.
The time we spend alive to enjoy with family and friends is priceless and should not be taken for granted. The bible says that the life and the time we have is precious. Psalm 90:12 says: “teach us to number our days that we might get a heart of wisdom”. Time is a gift from God, and you should never neglect your physical, spiritual and emotional well being to save a few bucks. However, it is good to be reminded from time to time that making a few small sacrifices (that won’t kill us!) can potentially add to our families’ legacy as we seek to help others that are in need. After all, what is the worth of money if it can’t be enjoyed or used for good? Go, eat and drink smarter. Enjoy!