Sunday, March 24, 2013

Saving Money on Beverages, Part 2

Back in the early 1990s, I was an original subscriber to The Tightwad Gazette newsletter run by Amy Dacyczyn. I still have all of my original newsletters, which I keep stored in three, three ring binders. 

One day last week I had a substitute job that required me to have a lot of free time and so I took one of my binders to work with me to reread some of Amy D’s original material. 

Sometimes, when you read something for the first time, the information may not strike a chord with you simply because it may not be essential to your life at the moment. Then, when you read the information for a second time, you realize the information has become useful. I know that has happened to me with The Tightwad Gazette on several occasions. 

Last week while I was rereading my newsletters, I came across the article Amy wrote about comparing beverages by the gallon. 

Here is a picture of that section of the newsletter:

Since I had the time, I decided to “do the math” on some thoughts about drinks I had been mulling over lately. 

Since my daughter started attending high school this year, most of the students bring coffee drinks to school or they can buy them in the Coffee CafĂ© the Business Department set up to teach the business students how to run a business. My daughter tried the coffee, but decided it was not for her, but she wanted a drink to fit in with her peers. 

One day, on our way to school, we stopped at the local convenience store because she wanted to buy herself a drink.  She ended up buying a 20 ounce bottle of pop for $1.83. 

I was shocked at the price of $1.83 for a bottle of pop. When did these get to be so expensive? I can remember when I was growing up when a 12 ounce can of pop was 25¢. The price of this "convenience" item is getting very close to $2.00, which is just unbelievable to me. Of course, many restaurants charge more than $2.00 for drinks, which I always thought was a lot of money for a drink. 

Let’s do the math on this bottle of pop. 

One gallon is equal to 128 ounces.  

When I divide the cost of $1.83 by 20 ounces it comes out to 9¢ per ounce or $11.52 a gallon. 


We went to Sam’s Club a couple of weeks ago and compared prices. They were offering eighteen 24 ounce bottles of pop for $15.50. This works out to 4¢ per ounce or $5.12 a gallon. 

I compared the price of 6 bottles of pop offered for $3.50 at our local grocery store. This worked out to 3¢ per ounce or $3.84 per gallon. 

Are you shocked? 

If you are a regular reader, you know that I’ve written before about saving money on beverages. 

I can make a gallon of sweet iced tea or Kool-Aid for less than 50¢ in my frugal kitchen or we can even drink water for free. This is much easier on my budget than paying the expensive prices for beverages at a convenient store. 

As for my daughter, I am still working on her. Sometimes she will refill her bottle with drinks from home and I like that she does try to save money at  times. I know she is more thoughtful and careful when it comes to spending her own money, so I take that into consideration as well.

Once again, this goes to prove that you can save so much money by cooking from scratch and making your own beverages at home in your own kitchen.  

© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2011-2013.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”


  1. Belinda,
    I, too, subscribed to Amy's newsletter, and I now also have her books (separate ones, not the combo vol 1-3 version). Well worn, to be sure! Beverages as well as snacks can make a serious dent in the grocery budget, not to mention sneak in calories that may not be needed/wanted. : (
    Good cost comparison, seeing real numbers helps to bring the true cost to light!

    1. Thanks, Carol.

      I too have the 1-3 books of hers as well. I just can't part with them. They are well worn likes yours. :)

      Good point on the calories! We need to watch those when we can.

  2. I used to go to the library to read the newsletters, one Saturday morning a month. That was my time out from taking care of kids.

    Fortunately for me now, my daughters are concerned about things like their weight, so they bring water in refillable bottles to school. And my son and husband just drink water at work.

    But for many years, I would pack homemade lemonade (from bottled lemon juice, sugar and water) in their lunches. Once every two or three years, I would buy 1 8-pack of individual Sunny Delight bottles filled with punch/juice. And we reuse those bottles. The seal on the caps and bottles gets weak over time, and the bottles will begin to leak. That's when I know it's time to buy another 8-pack, for the bottles.

    We rarely buy soda now, so it's always shocking to see how expensive it has become, for what, some sugar, flavor, bubbles and coloring.

    There are times that I would like some diet soda. My solution to those wants is some lemon juice, water and a packet of artificial sweetening, mixed by the glass, as I want it.

    1. I love lemonade, Lili and have it whenever I can. I like your idea of reusing the bottles of Sunny Delight. That is a good way of getting your money's worth. :)

  3. You are so right! It is amazing at how much bottled sodas and water can cost. My daughter isn't ready to give them up completely so we've been going with the Sam's Club option and taking them with us. We've also been packing only one soda for her (we do long road trips of up to 4 hours at a time kind of thing) and a filled water bottle from home.

    1. It is shocking, Shara. Good idea to do one soda and then one water.

  4. There is a ridiculous commerical that airs on the radio here from time to time. It is for diet mountain dew. And it excitedly proclaims that you can get TWO - 20 ounce bottles for $2.50. Here in Michigan, that would also include an additional $.20 for the bottle deposit(s) I can fairly often buy ONE - 2 liter bottle for $1. Plus the additional $.10 for the bottle deposit. Who in their right mind would ever consider the 20 ounce deal, a deal!???!

    1. Wow, that is unreal, Kelly. And a great example of what Amy D. was talking about in her original article. That is definitely no deal in my book.

  5. You are so right . Drinks skyrocket in tourist areas where it I'd not uncommon to pay $4 for a glass of tea with no refills

    1. I love iced tea and refills too! I know drinks are very expensive when one goes out to eat.

  6. I have the Complete Tightwad Gazette, and I have found it so useful. This, and the advice about just simplifying what you eat instead of making home versions of convenience foods has been very valuable. (It helps that I'm not a fan of soda anyway--I drink tea, water, or maybe sparkling water.) And it tends to be better for you anyway.

    1. I like that message she sends too, Pamela. To simply what you eat rather than try to recreate some of these fast food items at home. I have a recipe for Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza which is a lot of work. I would rather just make tacos instead.


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