Updated on 03.02.07

Five Minute Finances #6: Drink Lots of Water

Trent Hamm

Five Minute FinancesFive Minute Finances is a series of tips on how you can save significant money or reorganize your financial life in just five minutes. These tips appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on The Simple Dollar.

This is one of my favorite money saving tips, mostly because it’s so surprising to most people. Drink water? What does that have to do with saving money?

Give this exercise a try for one week. Before you prepare or order or buy any food, drink eight ounces of water (twelve or sixteen ounces if you’re a bigger fellow). It only takes a moment or two and you can do it almost unconsciously, but you’ll find yourself eating a smaller portion. This means a smaller bill at the restaurant, smaller meal preparations at home.

Not only do you directly save money on food bills (I estimate saving several dollars a week for myself alone by doing this), you may also indirectly save money on medical bills. The Cornell University Medical Center found that the majority of Americans are deficient enough in water intake to actually be considered dehydrated. To quote, “Asked to describe their beverage consumption habits, participants report drinking an overall average of only 4.6 8-ounce servings of water per day-most health and nutrition experts recommend at least 8 servings per day.”

In other words, drinking a little water before each meal is a real money saver in more ways than one. Today, when you start thinking about a meal, have a glass of water before you even get started. The end result? You’ll eat less, feel better, and save some money, too.

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  1. icup says:

    uh, according to snopes, that stuff about needing that much water everyday is an urban legend: http://www.snopes.com/medical/myths/8glasses.asp

    Although I agree with the idea of drinking water to reduce hunger and restaurant bills, if only because soda is expensive and beer/wine even more so in restaurants.

  2. icup says:

    also, from the link in your article to the cornell quote-unquote “study”:

    “The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) collaborated in design and underwriting” [of the “study”]

    Gee, I wonder if they had anything to gain from that specific finding. Totally weaksauce dude.

  3. Nicole says:

    I consider myself a “hydraholic.” That is, I absolutely love water and honestly believe it benefits your health in a number of ways. I consume 4 liters a day and the skin on my body and face is amazingly clear. Nary a blemish in sight. Sometimes on the weekend I slice cucumbers, lemon, and oranges and put them in my water to change things up a big. Very refreshing!

  4. thirsty says:

    Actually, it’s a pretty sound dieting tip. Sometimes you’re not hungry, you’re just thirsty.

    I am tired of people pointing out that you can die from too much water. We don’t drink enough water – we just don’t. Drinking more water can only help.

  5. eR0CK says:

    Drinking 8 – 8oz bottles a day should be the norm regardless of your financial state. Water is one of the most important substances our body needs each day to function.

  6. Linda says:

    While I agree drinking water can save you lots of money and calories (think: drinking water instead of drinks @ a restaurant), I don’t think drinking a glass of water before eating a meal is a good idea.

    And according to this scientific study, drinking water before a meal doesn’t have any effect on your food intake with the exception of older men. I’ve read some of the actual study and the authors state that the only other scientific study they have found report primarily the same result they report in their study.

    So while I endorse drinking more water, drinking water right before you eat a meal is not necessary going to affect anything. Of course, the scientific study I mentioned had subjects that were given as much food as they wanted to eat, so it’s not exactly indicative of how we will behave when we have to actually pay for our food. However, neither does there appear to be scientific evidence supporting your claim either.

  7. S says:

    Whenever I get hunger pangs in between meals, I just drink a glass of water to ‘trick’ my stomach into feeling full. This almost always works and saves a lot of money by not needing to stock up with snacks (even healthy ones like *yuk* celery sticks)

  8. While I drink tons and tons of water, I like to start off a meal with a glass of milk. If I don’t do it then, I tend to not get enough calcium. It also fills me up with actual calories, so I don’t have to eat as much. It’s pretty cheap as well, since a gallon can go a long way.

  9. Cable Gal says:

    Water is so healthy and clears up your skin if have acne also norishes wrinkles. Hydrate your body its the best.

  10. John says:

    According to this, the idea of drinking 8, 8oz classes of water per day is not based on any scientific study whatsoever and has it’s roots in vitalism.

  11. Lionel says:

    In your ‘One Page’ on this topic, you say “Drink a big glass of water before each meal, and not only will you digest it better,…”
    I must say I disagree with the digest it better part. Water actually dilutes the enzimes in your stomach, making them less efficient.

  12. frblarney says:

    I think water is great, but before a meal, try an apple or banana, or plain yoghurt. Put SOMETHING in your stomach, so the big plate of bread or pasta is not so tempting. Plain water is always helped by slices of lemon, orange, etc; keep them in the fridge and people are more likely to drink it spontaneously – it’s attractive.

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