Before soda, beer, coffee, and any other drink you can think of – there was water!
Once upon a time, humans didn’t have beverages that were manufactured in a glass or plastic bottles. We didn’t have smoothies, lattes, beer, shots, wine, or any of these delicious drinks that we have come to love.
You may have heard of the “latte factor” from the author of the “Automatic Millionaire”, David Bach. I am not referring to cutting down your daily latte in order to save money and begin building wealth.
What I am referring to is the “water factor”; if you cut down all the drinks in your life that are not water, then that single decision may be the only decision you need in order to begin accumulating wealth and achieve Financial Independence.
And let me be clear – I am not referring to drinking bottled water. Bottled water makes as much sense as bottled air, which you can now buy online.
How Luxuries Become Needs
I was at the airport the other day coming back from Dallas, Texas and noticed a huge line at the Starbucks near my gate. Ths line wasn’t the typical line though, the line was fully comprised of children!
The adult that was chaperoning the group of children was taking their orders and passing it along to the barista. These children couldn’t have been older than 12 years old, but here they were at Starbucks ordering all sorts of frappuccinos – chocolate flavored ones, strawberry ones, vanilla ones, matcha frappucinos, double chocolatey chip creme frappucinos… the list goes on.
All I could think to myself was; this is how habits form.
Let me explain. Starbucks must begin as a rare luxury good for most people, especially children. I don’t expect many children wake out of bed with the immediate need of consuming caffeine – this behavior is learned over time.
Over time, this once in a while luxury becomes a habit. It may start with getting a special treat yourself just once a year. This once a year luxury may be so enjoyable that you splurge a little and consume it once every 6 months, to once every month, to once a week, and finally becoming a daily habit.
Once a luxury good, like a Starbucks beverage, becomes a habit – it slowly develops to become a need. This transformation can happen over a few years or a few days. I want to warn all my readers to take a look at what they buy/consume often and really consider if they need that good, or is just a luxury?
We didn’t all start off with the absolute need to drink coffee in the morning, but now most of us (at least myself) have turned these once in a while luxuries into a bad habit and subsequently turned the bad habit into a daily need.
The Drinks We Bought This Week
One of the best ways to begin accumulating wealth is by tracking your expenses as they relate to a budget. However, instead of tracking all of our expenses – let us just track what we spend on drinks during one week’s time.
The below chart is how much I spent on drinks this week.
Insane! In the span of a week, I spent nearly $100 on drinks alone. I urge my readers to track the amount of money they spend on drinks in a given week. You may be surprised to see how much of your money is spent on drinks that you simply do not need.
Okay, to be fair, the table above is more of a depiction of how I spent money before my commitment to becoming Financially Independent but is accurate and honest nonetheless.
More recently, I have cut down my drink expenses by over %90. I have been making my own coffee/tea at home and at work. I have tried to cut out the buying of sugary drinks, alcohol, and other beverages that I simply do not NEED.
Remember – the only thing we NEED to drink – is water. Let’s just pretend that I didn’t buy tea bags or coffee beans (which comes to less than $10 a week) and I managed to save $90 a week by simply only drinking (free) water. If I saved/invested the $90 a week in an account that returned %8 a year, I would have $1,259,326 over a 40 year period by just cutting out drinks alone!
Weird Ways I Have Been Drinking Water
As I mentioned earlier in this article, I am not interested at all in buying bottled water. Tap water is free and is potable in most places in the U.S.
Bring your water with you in a canteen and enjoy the pleasure of not having to buy a drink when you are outside.
However, there are occasions where I am not in my home, forget my bottle, and I do not have a tap available. For these situations, I do find myself tempted to buy a beverage from the closest store. BUT! I always try my best to avoid purchasing any drink if I can avoid it.
Instead, I have been doing slightly weird things.
When I become thirsty while outside, I have been going to the nearest McDonald’s, Chipotle, or any restaurant that has paper cups and a water fountain. I simply go up to the cash register and politely ask if I can have a cup of water. I have never been denied, been embarrassed, or regretted asking for a free cup of water.
No matter the situation any particular individual is in, there are always savings to be had. All you need to do is just think a little differently and recognize that every beverage besides water is want, not a need.
I realize this entire philosophy may be “extreme”, but these types of decisions are what will push us from living paycheck-to-paycheck to being able to save and accumulate wealth.