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Break the Soda Habit and Save $700 Per Year

By , October 16th, 2009 | 9 Comments »

Up until a year or so ago I had a pretty bad soda habit. I guess there were others who have a bigger problem than I did, but mine was bad enough. I would routinely drink soda with lunch and dinner, and maybe one in between if the urge hit. I always drank diet so it wasn’t like I was gaining weight, but the soda habit became a problem nonetheless.

I started to have problems with the caffeine. I’d never noticed before, but it started making me jittery and giving me gastric problems. I guess my body couldn’t handle it anymore. I could have switched to caffeine free soda, but I started to have concerns about the sweeteners and chemicals used in soda, as well. (True story: I was a figure skater growing up and we used to soak our skate blades in Diet Pepsi to remove rust. When you’re young you don’t think about things like that, but looking back it really makes me wonder what I was thinking drinking a proven rust remover.)

I decided the soda had to go. I cut down gradually to spare myself the caffeine withdrawal headaches that I would have gotten had I gone cold turkey. I went from two or three sodas a day down to one. Then I got it down to one every other day, then every two days, and so on until soda was no longer part of my life. It took about a month and a half. I replaced soda with more water, pure juices (but not too many because of the sugar content in some) and decaffeinated iced tea. I started feeling better almost immediately.

I didn’t start out eliminating soda to save money, but in addition to improved health, I was shocked to learn how much money my soda habit was costing me. I generally bought cases on sales like 4/$11 or similar. Each case was roughly $2.75 for twelve cans. In my worst weeks, a case would last four days. Sometimes six. For the sake of argument, let’s say a case lasted five days. In a month that meant six cases. That was $16.50 per month and a whopping $198 per year.

But that’s not the worst of it. That number doesn’t count the sodas I bought at really expensive places like restaurants, theaters, ball games and amusement parks. The average cost of a drink in such a place is around $3.00 and I was buying an average of three per week in places such as these, spending at least $9 per week more on soda. Over the fifty-two weeks in a year, I spent an additional $468 on soda. My total soda expenditure in a year: $666.00, not including tax and not counting any other random soda purchases at vending machines and gas stations. If I had to guess those probably totaled another $50/year, bringing me just over $700 per year in soda.

When I laid it all out like that, I thought, “Holy cow. That’s a small vacation, two years of routine vet care for my dog, or a decent piece of furniture. Over ten years, that’s $7,000, which is a decent used car or a nice chunk of change in an IRA. Good grief!”

Now I mostly drink water. If I need something with flavor, I drink decaf iced tea I make myself. Tea is cheap. I drink OJ at breakfast and that’s pretty much it. When we go out for dinner, I choose water, not only for the health benefits, but because I’ve realized just how overpriced drinks are in restaurants. I carry my own water to places like theme parks and ball games in a stainless steel water bottle (I haven’t transferred to my soda spending to bottled water). Not only am I healthier, I’m wealthier, too. If you’re looking for a way to trim your budget, I encourage you to look at your soda habits.

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  • Save the money, the calories, the carbonation, all that and feel better, too! What an idea.

  • sewingirl says:

    We have a neighbor who is so addicted to Diet Pepsi, he puts it on his cereal in the morning! GROSS!

  • Bobby says:

    The ranks of soda addicts are legion. Tea is a great idea–steep your own loose leaf and pack in the antioxidants as a bonus. Congrats on beating the soda addiction.

  • I recently gave up soda. I will still occasionally drink a soda when out at a restaurant or as a special treat – but never at home – too tempting! It has saved my family a lot of money and more importantly, I feel better!

  • Scanner says:

    Guilty as charged. My last vice.

  • Fe2O3ez says:

    Really, it speaks to almost any vice that a person can have. Soda, chips, cigarettes… It really comes down to the fact that we are paying to support a habit or desire. It only requires a quick calculation of how much is spent on the habit over a month, year, 5 years… to pur things in the right perspective.

  • Kevin says:

    I am a bad soda drinker. It is bad enough that other people have commented on it. Even my girlfriend comments, “Every time we go someplace you need a soda.” I also drink diet soda. If I am out, I usually go for Diet Coke but at home I drink the store brand diet cola.

    I drink about 1L a day of the store brand. That is over 40c a day and about $155 a year. If I was drinking the brand name stuff, it would be much higher. Then you add in soda machines, 20oz bottles bought at the grocery store ($1.49 after tax), and eating out… and I don’t even want to compute the cost. It’s probably well upwards of $400 a year. Not as bad at $700 but still pretty bad.

    As an aside, I do buy a $1.49 20oz bottle of diet coke to drink on the 10 minute drive from the store and back to my house… where I have soda. I am currently cutting back on the soda I drink. But it’s very hard for me.

  • Emily C says:

    Excellent article and comments. I am married to a coca cola drinker (39 years). I gave up Coke – but he still carries on…carries on about 70 extra pounds, loss of teeth, gas problems with his system, burping non-stop. Give it up people – clear your system!!!!!! And save $$$$$$


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