There is a widely-cited statistic that 40% of Americans cannot pay an unexpected $400 emergency. Are you one of these people without an Emergency Fund capable of footing that bill? Have you ever stopped to think that maybe you drank it?

So before everyone criticizes me for being crass, this is really just another take on examining your spending. I recently realized that almost 30% of my spending at restaurants is related to my choice of beverages; soda, tax and tip for a usual lunch, and possibly much higher if I order a beer or other alcoholic beverage at dinner or in a bar. I already wrote about how I don’t buy lattes or other coffee-based beverages, but I still go to Starbucks when it is cold outside so I can get a hot chocolate or a caramel apple spice.

So let’s break this down. Not every restaurant sells soda for $1 like McDonald’s… some sit-down restaurants are $2.50-$3.00 easily. Then you add sales tax of 5-7% (maybe more, maybe less if you’re in a state without sales tax) and then tip your wait staff as well. That bubbly, sugary soft drink might tack on $4 to an individual restaurant bill.

photo of four assorted color beverages
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Do you ever go out to bars? Beers are one of the cheaper options, but can still be around $4-$8 depending on the style, size, and type. And you probably don’t drink just one. Cocktails and shots can really rack up too, and so does your bar tab. Even everyone’s favorite frugal grandma Penny recently admitted to buying $12 shots of Patron in her younger days:

To round out the list, we have wine. Glasses and bottles (or boxes, I won’t judge) can range from Two Buck Chuck to $20 very easily, and a whole lot more if you have fancy taste.

adult alcohol blur celebrate
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So why do we continue to spend good money on all of these drink choices with minimal nutritional value and lots of empty calories?

What if we switched half of our liquid libations to nature’s perfect potion: H2O. Wouldn’t our waistlines and wallets welcome that?  How long would it take to stockpile sawbucks that could save us from small or sizeable squeezes?

water glass theme water
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I’m not begrudging anyone their beverage of choice, but am suggesting we could all be more mindful when deciding what to drink. And such a simple change might add up to a whole lot of change when it comes to saving for that starter emergency fund.

  1. ::dead::

    Honestly, the good thing about Patron shots is that even in my youth, I could only drink so many of them. Diet Coke, chai lattes, and all the other stuff I pay WAY TOO MUCH FOR doesn’t seem to have a limit like booze. It is my biggest goal for the new year. Learn to drink water again.

    1. I try to have fun when I order it. At a Mexican restaurant, I’ll order the “Mexican Water” but not like Montezuma’s Revenge🤣. Or if I’m with others who order water with lemon, I’ll order “water without lemon” 😁

  2. Everyone has some secret evil pleasure. I can’t help it that I’m in love with Diet Mountain Dew. Plus I’m already FIRE’d so I’m really just spending my kids inheritance on diet soda and wine. And in fact when I consider how badly they acted at times I think I’m going to try to drink more of it up. I’ll just save the empty cans and bottles in boxes and have my lawyer Fed Ex them to the kids after I die!

  3. I honestly wonder why personal finance bloggers don’t bring this up more. My husband and I only drink rarely, usually because it comes down to “you want to grab a bottle of wine?” “Naw, that’s like $15 we could use for something else”. Alcohol specifically can be a HUGE money drain for a lot of people but most aren’t willing to touch that sacred cow, even when it could save possibly hundreds of dollars month.

    1. It’s a third-rail issue for a lot of people. This is an extension of the latte factor, which has become sacred for some people, and an untouchable item in their budget. Tack on coffee/lattes/tea, smoothies, soda, mixed drinks, beer/wine, and suddenly literal thousands of dollars are spent. That’s fine if it’s spent intentionally, but it’s a huge blind spot for some people. Thanks for the comment!

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