Updated on 07.11.07

Kicking My Candy Bar Addiction In The Foot – And Saving Big Money

Trent Hamm

SnickerAs I’ve mentioned on here a few times before, I’ve been trying out the Volumetrics weight control plan in an attempt to lose a few pounds. So far, it’s been working quite well, but what I found to be quite interesting is that it really exposed one of my worst daily splurges – and now I can see both the health and the financial aspects of kicking this little routine.

See that little Snickers bar wrapper over there? It was my addiction. For years. I would eat one in the morning and one in the afternoon out of the vending machine at work. Seventy five cents a pop, making it cost a dollar fifty a day. Most days, this would literally just come out of pocket change, so it never really felt like a big expenditure, plus I was often quite happy to have that mid-morning and mid-afternoon energy rush that the bar would provide.

When I started Volumetrics, I started looking carefully at the nutrition labels on different items and the Snickers bar made me almost jump out of my skin. Wow! That candy bar alone was worse for me than almost any meal I would eat. I realized that for health reasons I needed to kick the habit, and I knew in the back of my head that it would help financially, too, but I was really worried about that mid-morning and mid-afternoon energy rush.

What did I do instead? Fruits, and a variety of them. I kept high-energy fruits on my desk: grapefruits, oranges, and bananas, mostly, picked up at the store for less than a quarter a pop. I’d eat one in the mid-morning and one in the mid-afternoon as an energy booster and it matched well with Volumetrics, too. I missed the Snicker’s bar, of course, but the routine of a banana in the morning and an orange or a grapefruit in the afternoon quickly replaced it – I didn’t even think about it any more after a couple of weeks.

I was spending a dollar less each weekday, so after five weeks I had lost a bit of weight, which was a nice reward itself. Not surprising to anyone, though, I decided to run the numbers to see how the saving was going. The math here is simple – five weeks of saving a dollar a day means $25 I didn’t have before. If I contributed that $5 a week to my daughter’s 529 account and it returned 10% a year, on her eighteenth birthday the account would have $12,200 in it.

$12,200 for college and a smaller stomach. I think my daughter would be proud of her dad.

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  1. The Snicker’s bars are your “Daily Starbucks”. I’ve read so many times before that if you kick a daily habit that costs you money, imagine the amount of money you can save. Add it up over a year and you will see big numbers. Mine is the coke machine. I’m still working on kicking it. I would save 75 cents a day, 5 days a week or $180 a year.

  2. I really enjoy finding habits like this which when cut out tend to improve health and wallet size. Nice!

  3. Ryan says:

    Very good stuff. And the fringe benefit of $ savings can help transform that “diet” into a habit. Don’t neglect exercise too. The only way I can think to realize $ savings thru exercise (aside from indirectly through health care costs) is on a commute. Can you bike, walk or bus and walk to work?

  4. Mitch says:

    My daily vice is Coca-Cola (or C2 if I could still find it). I always drink more during projects/events/writing papers, but most of the time I can push back down to 1-2 cans per day pretty easily. It helps to have a really fun glass *just for water*; I recommend it to those who are also working on this area.

  5. Bob says:

    Dropping the candy bars for weight loss is great,but everyone deserves a little cash expenditure that does not have to be accounted for except for being a small % of your budget so that you don’t hang yourself tomorrow. Account for cash expenditures and don’t beat yourself up over them!!

  6. Marc says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t start buying candy bars in volume when you started taking control of your finances.

  7. Dave says:

    I’m with Marc. How can you go through 2 candy bars a day and not think “Costco?”
    I also don’t think Snickers are particularly unhealthy, just calorie laden.

  8. Lynnae says:

    I’ve been lurking for a while, but when I saw this, I knew I had to comment. Snickers are my favorite, too, and I gave them up about a month ago. It was hard, but it’s been good on the health and the wallet.

  9. Rob says:

    Snickers and just about every mainstream candy bar is pretty unhealthy… I wouldn’t say it’s nearly as bad as soda, but anytime you get a load of sugars and fats together in a small dense package that barely fills you up, it’s safe to say it leans toward the unhealthy side.

  10. Ben says:

    I used to have a two can a day Coca-Cola habit. I had tried to give it up several times in the past. This time I have been successful in giving away drinking all soft drinks (this what Sodas are called in Australia). I set up a spreadsheet to track how much I haven’t been spending on soft drinks since I have given up my habit. I also track how many times I have paid for regular financial commitments now that I’m not wasting money on soft drink.

  11. guinness416 says:

    Whoa … two snickers a day! I think you should see serious weight improvements just by quitting the chocolate, never mind any other changes. Trail mix is another great substitute for the office, if you feel like changing up from the fruit.

  12. mary says:

    I like the way you intertwined wasteful spending and more healthy habits together. 99.99 percent of people can relate to the snickers bar addiction!

  13. I’m with Mark and Dave. It is often the case that fruits and vegetables are more expensive than unhealthy options. Compare the cost of a double cheeseburger and a salad at McDonalds for instance.

  14. Brip Blap says:

    The fruits and vegetables may be more expensive in the short run but dentists’ bills, doctors’ bills and buying new fat clothes are more expensive in the short run. Everyone has bad expensive food habits and bad dietary food habits. I like having a nice fresh salad for lunch every day but it costs $8. A Subway sandwich is $4 and a sandwich from home is even less, but not as healthy (lots more carbs). It’s important to balance health and money. Personally, I don’t think you can ever spend too much on your health. It’s a cliche, but if you don’t have your health what do you have?

  15. Jay Wilson says:

    I totally know the pain of wasting precious dollars on a mid-afternoon snack/meal. I’ve been doing the “sandwich and soft drink” thing from a deli on the same block as my job – at the tune of about 8 bucks a day. 40 bucks a week. $160 per month.

    I’m going to – get this – buy a lunch box on Friday so I’ll be encouraged to save money by making my own meals at home, which will be far cheaper.

  16. Fellowes says:

    I’ve actually found that eating healthier is overall cheaper than buying a ton of processed foods. Yes, you can’t buy your produce at ‘Whole Paycheck’ but if you are willing to shop at your local hole-in-the-wall corner fruit stand (assuming you have access to one), you can get good produce on the cheap.

    Good luck on kicking the candy habit. My vice, like many others was Coca-Cola; 2 per day. It was just like frittering away money on lattes only worse because of all the empty calories. I’m on both the debt and weight reduction journey, which for me have been deeply interrelated.

  17. Amy Haden says:

    That’s great! I too had a vending-machine Snickers habit at one time, and realized as I packed on the pounds & simultaneously emptied out my wallet, that it wasn’t a good thing. Candy is a treat. So now I try to make sure that I don’t have money with me at work so that I’m not tempted by vending machines — and like you, I have fruit & veggies (also crackers & cheese sometimes) to snack on at work.

  18. Mitch says:

    As far as the budget is concerned, bringing just about any snack from home can be cheaper than getting them out of the machine. I don’t know about Whole Foods, since I mostly run in, grab pasta, and run out (the place is almost as claustrophobic as Kay Bee Toys in December), but when I was in high school my mom took me to Sam’s to get a pack of V8 cans (11.5 ounce cans) for an after-school work/activity pick-me-up. Even though V8 is pricey, it was cheaper per can than soda out of a machine. And, shockingly, pop was only 50 cents at school but 55 cents at the office building (this was in northern Illinois around ten years ago).

  19. 60 in 3 says:

    You can actually save quite a bit of money by eating healthier. Just kicking the soda and candy habit helps. Beyond that you can start cooking your own meals, shopping at farmer’s markets and eating less meat. All good steps to reduce the size of your belly and increase the size of your savings account.


  20. Mitch says:

    I think it would be interesting, though, to find out from a nutritionist what candy bar to buy out of a machine if you are desperate. I know I sometimes get stranded in a strange place (mechanic, doctor’s office, airport) with nothing but a vending machine for a snack. I have found that although I prefer the taste of Milky Way’s (light and dark) a Snickers seems to do a better job of stopping the swirling and tiding me over for a few hours. My guess is it’s the peanuts. I need to master traveling with food, but it would be great to back it up with knowing how to make the best of a bad situation.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    For cheap and delicious fruit this summer check your local farmers market or roadside farm stand — here, it’s peach season and there is nothing like a peach that was picked within the 24 hours before you bought it. I might even assert that the last one I ate tasted better than a snickers bar!

  22. Dr Pepper says:

    My weakness is diet Mountain Dew. I have tried for years to give up my one liter per day habit, but no luck. I guess I spend about $400.00 per year when you figure in the state sales tax in Illinois.

    I’ve tried to be as rational as I can be: Don’t smoke, don’t drink coffee or tea, don’t buy designer water, candy, or alcohol.

    I have thought about buying Pepsi stock; that way I would get something back everytime I bought a bottle of Diet Mountain Dew.

  23. Free Food says:

    Keep it up and with exercise, you’ll feel great too.

    Unfortunately for me, my workplace has a free candy supply that is very often loaded with snickers. It kind of negates the saving-money aspect. After reading everyone’s comments though, I’m going to try to bring a banana/orange or something from home for my afternoon snack instead of emptying the company supply.

  24. I agree with your comments, it just takes a little self discipline. I think that you are right to point out the savings each week you could make but I think that higher savings are made in the long term in relation to medical and dentist bills, because your helath will generally be better (less clogged up arteries and bad teeth!)

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