The Expenses of a Soda Pop Addiction – And How to Defeat It

My wife and I have both been addicted to soda for many years. On an average day, I would drink six cans of soda and my wife would drink four cans, meaning we would go through ten cans a day at our house.

The Direct Costs

We would typically buy soda by the case from Sam’s Club, where we would pay about $5 for a package of 24 cans. At a rate of ten cans a day, that means we’d blow through a case in about 2.4 days, meaning our cost for our soda pop addiction was about $2 a day.

But that’s not all. Probably twice a week, we would buy a soda from another source, costing roughly $1.50 each. That’s another $6 a week on top of the $15 a week we would spend on the canned soda. This adds up to a total cost of almost exactly $3 a day for our soda habit.

That doesn’t seem like much at first, but let’s stretch that out to a year. Over 365 days, that $3 a day turns into $1,095 – almost an extra house payment. If I make that extra house payment each year instead of buying the soda, we could actually pay off our house eight years earlier.

The Indirect Costs

There are a number of indirect costs to consider as well. Each of these effects adds up to a number of costs, either directly financial or indirectly via negative social effects. While it’s difficult to calculate costs of these, the costs are real and should be considered.

Obesity Soda essentially adds calories to water, meaning that you’re consuming more calories by drinking soda than by drinking equivalent amounts of water. Unless you’re burning those calories, they’re going to contribute directly to weight gain (or at least difficulty in weight loss).

Tooth decay Soda contributes to tooth decay, even if you’re extremely diligent with tooth care. If you value personal appearance, know that later in life, your consumption now will likely have very negative effects on your teeth later.

Bone weakening Phosphorus, a common ingredient in soda, contributes to bone weakening by depleting bones of calcium. Early in life, this isn’t much of an issue; late in life, however, you’ll regret all of those sodas.

Caffeine dependence If you’re a regular user of a caffeinated beverage, you know quite well about the negative effects of withdrawal: headaches and lethargy, for starters. Your body begins to assume that a certain level of caffeine is “normal” and thus doesn’t react well when there is no caffeine.

Killing the Addiction

As a result of this information, several months ago I made a sincere effort to kick the soda addiction – and it worked. I might drink one a week now – far, far better than the ten a day I was drinking. Here are some powerful tips for kicking the habit.

Try starting the habit kicking on a Friday. For me, the second and third days were the hardest, as I had a deep headache and wanted to sleep a lot. Thus, it was very nice to have those pains on a weekend where I could sleep a lot.

Whenever you crave a pop, drink a big glass of water. I came to discover that my cravings for pop were actually cravings for caffeine and for hydration. By drinking water, I was taking care of that hydration demand. However, for the first few days, I drank a lot of water – more than a gallon each day.

Try adding fruits to your water. I found that slicing a lime or a lemon and putting slices of those in the water made it much more palatable to me, especially since my deepest soda addiction was to Mountain Dew.

Get some support. My wife helped quite a bit with this, doing far more than her fair share of the housework and child care for a few days so I could sleep and be miserable and have someone to complain to. She did it with charm and aplomb (as she usually does). Any time you take on a major personal challenge, good support makes all the difference.

The best time to get started on the difficult task of kicking an addiction is right now. If you’re addicted to soda, take a serious look at what it’s costing you and think about making a change for your own good.

Trent Hamm
Trent Hamm
Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

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