Drink an Extra Glass of Water Each Week and Save $20,000

drink water to save moneyWhen you’re out to lunch or dinner, do you buy a drink with your meal?

Personally, I’ve been sticking to water.  As I wrote in a post on drinking tap water to save money, it’s likely a healthier and cost-efficient option than most other alternatives.  Having given up drinking soda – and not having had one in almost 1.5 years – I can see how a meal outside can be a lot cheaper when just having water.

But when you think about it, the amount saved can really add up.  I was at a place recently where the cost of a beverage was $2.19.  Now, I’m not talking about the grown-up type of drink, but rather just a regular fountain-type of drink.   I recall a time when such drinks were around $0.50, which most assuredly seems like this price increase has outpaced inflation.

Anyway, at $2.19 you do get the honor of getting unlimited refills.  You know, in case you have a real urge to erode your teeth in the spirit of getting the most of your money.  Good deal?

But let’s look at the $2.19 figure again.  If you go out to eat even just one time per week, and spend a drink when you do, you’re talking about $113.88 over the course of a year.  It wouldn’t be too tough to drink one glass of water each week instead, right?

So let’s say we invest that $113.88 and earn a straight up 10% rate of return, after all expenses.  Not a sure thing, but let’s run with this figure.

Then, let’s say that we make this a habit and do it for the next 30 years.  Again, just substitute 1 glass of water for a beverage when dining out, 1 time per week.  Save and invest the difference, and let it compound.  That’s it.

After 30 years, this comes out to nearly $20,000.  All for developing a simple, healthy habit and sticking with it.  Just one extra glass of water per week is all it would take.

To me, this is but one of many examples of how we can make small, incremental changes that can eventually have a big impact on our savings.  It’s easy to think of ways that we could save here and there, particularly by changing our habits.  Perhaps this can even be applied to instances where we’re making money too?  Just a little extra income can really add up over time.

Oh, and it could save on dental expenses and avoid actual pain too, which I experienced enough of in the past.  Try saving and investing those types of expenses and watch what happens!

My Questions for You

Do you order beverages when dining out, or do you stick to just water?

Do you have any other examples of how smaller expenses can really add up over time?


  1. Kathy says

    We usually drink water as well, unless getting pizza or Mexican food. Then we do get sodas just cause we like soda with that food. We also skip appetizers and desserts when eating out….unless it is at the Cheesecake Factory and since we only go there about once a year, I just have to indulge in a dessert from there.

  2. says

    I used to always order a soda with my meal, but now I usually order water. If I am getting a pizza though, then I usually order a soda. Drinking water with it just isn’t the same. The thing that gets me though, is when we go to a place that offers free refills and people buy the super duper large drink. You can buy the regular size for less money and just refill it a few more times if you want all that soda.

    • Squirrelers says

      There is something about pizza that just calls for something different from water! One suggestion is to try sparkling water, at least there is that fizzy taste but no other chemicals or additives (that I know of, anyway).

  3. says

    If you drink water instead of sugary drinks, your biggest savings are likely to be over the long term in healthcare costs. Eight teaspoons of sugar in a 12-oz soda–yikes! Say ‘hello’ to (costly) diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illness!

    • Squirrelers says

      Yes, I agree that the bigger picture is the health benefit of water vs other alternatives. When I drank soda (I no longer do), I came to the conclusion that it didn’t matter that I was drinking “diet”. Water is better in my view!

  4. Hilary says

    I have always hated the taste of soda. It tastes like pure acid to me. If I’m at home, I drink milk or water. Anything else I drink just makes me feel dehydrated and thirsty for water. At a restaurant, I only order water. Water tastes so good to me no matter what the main dish is!

  5. says

    I stopped drinking soda maybe 10 years and switched over to water with all of my meals. It actually feels weird to have anything other than water now. I love saving money and also avoiding that high fructose corn syrup.

  6. says

    I usually only drink water at restaurants as well. For one, I don’t really like soda very much and non-alcoholic beverages are overpriced at restaurants anyway. Water is also so much healthier. I don’t think the servers like it much when we say, “Water is fine,” but I don’t really care if it knocks $5 off the bill!

    • Squirrelers says

      You know, that’s a good point about the servers. I’ve wondered if they care, as it makes sense that they might due to the slightly lower tip.

    • Squirrelers says

      Yes, that makes it even a bigger deal when substituting water for an alcoholic beverage. Perhaps that $20k could be multiplied by a factor significant enough to make a huge difference.

  7. says

    It’s amazing how such little changes can provide such a big return (monetarily and, in this case, for better health as well). Unfortunately, for me, I almost exclusively drink water so it’s not an opportunity to save. However, I know I’m in the minority and this suggestion is very applicable to most of the population who can’t live without their soda or coffee.

  8. says

    We usually order water, not just for the cost but for the health savings as well. One thing that I always point out when I see this as a tip to save money is that you should still tip based on if you had gotten a drink. So if there’s two of you and you both get water, mentally add $4 or so to the bill before you calculate your tip. The waitperson still has to fill your cup and such, so don’t stiff them over.

  9. says

    Great way of looking at it! I usually just get water, but am often tempted by “grown-up” drinks. It definitely started to add up during the school year but I’ll definitely follow this advice moving forward-crazy to think about.

  10. Suzanne says

    Thanks for bringing up this topic. Coming from a frugal upbringing, I have always tried to go with water as a way to cut the restaurant tab, as well as for health benefits, however, my husband, who comes from a more affluent family lifestyle, seems to feel this is missing a big part of the enjoyment of going out to eat, so he has no problem ordering a soft drink and a coffee during a meal. I just tell myself that he is having drinks for both of us! This is the only ‘splurge’ he makes, so who am I to complain.

    As some commenters have pointed out, the formula possibly should include tax and tip, to demonstrate the true savings from this practice. Since tip is usually figured after sales tax (for those of us in sales tax states), I find 30% additional savings when I drink water in my hometown restaurants. I save an additional $6,000, for a total of $26,000 saved, using your example, with my local tax rate of 8.1% and a 20% tip on top of that. I am very aware of taxes as add-ons that inflate both purchases and tips. Theses add-ons are real considerations that can’t be avoided if one eats out!

    So that couple-of-buck soft-drink is more like $3 ($2.84) after tax and tip, assuming you can even find a soft-drink for $2.19 at a restaurant in my town.

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