Beverage choices: reducing waste and costs

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When aiming to live more frugally, reduce waste or build savings (perhaps that first $25k), a place to make cuts is with beverage purchases.

As a kid, nothing elicited a more troubled look from my parents than ordering a beverage with a meal. Their concern makes sense: A non-alcoholic drink can often cost close to half of an entree, when (in the US, at least) tap/table water is typically provided for free.

It might sound lame, but throughout school and college and into my 30s, I drank little more than tap water at home and out. For at least 20 years I have carried a personal water bottle. At a bar, I might grab a Coke or a soda water and lime (drinks that were often comped to me), and it didn’t seem to slow the fun.

Now in my 40s, I drink some — but not much — alcohol, but mainly at home. I also enjoy coffee, but I’ve stopped purchasing specialty barista drinks in the US, as it’s often better here at least (and always cheaper) to simply order a house coffee. You can set yourself apart further (and in some cases save a little more cash) by carrying your own coffee cup. When traveling and at work, I use a 12oz / ‘medium’ KeepCup and a thermos, buying the organic coffee that I like in bulk and brewing at home.

Travel companions: Keepcup for hot beverages and a Nalgene bottle for iced water.

I shared with the Dividend Diplomats another beverage strategy and product to consider: Uncle Lee’s Organic Green Tea — which tends to retail for about $7 for 100 bags. I was worried, as the guys (in their 20s) were already into their third pod coffee mid-day.

Uncle Lee
Uncle Lee’s Organic Green Tea. The bags, paper packets and the box (maybe shred?) seem to be compostable.

Regardless, coffee drinkers should consider getting a Bialetti, a thermos, and a compost bin for grounds — inexpensive lifetime products that can save some costs and reduce waste.

A Bialetti / “Italian” coffee maker — no filter, all it needs is a stove top / heat source, water and ground coffee. Anything with a lid can serve as a compost bin — for the coffee grounds, etc.

Many tea drinkers already know that convenience stores and similar in the US offer hot water near the coffee urns (check with the clerk about any cost). Along with a thermos of coffee or hot water for tea, I tend to fill up on soda machine iced water at convenience stores — why I like carrying a wide-mouth Nalgene bottle (occasionally there is a charge for ice).

In different regions, families are encouraged to keep a two-week drinking water supply as part of emergency prepareness– roughly a gallon per household member and each pet x 14 (days). Follow CDC advice for emergency water supplies, and remember that personal beverage choices can help with various life goals!

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