Vices, we’ve all got em’. They don’t need to be a bad thing, unless they’re costing you money, time, or health. The problem with vices is they’re rarely done in moderation. When you’re only partaking in that thing seldomly, it no longer becomes a vice. Let’s look at common vices, the cost of them, and a better alternative.
Hooo boy, this is a common one. It’s stitched into every layer of our lives. Weddings, birthday parties, meeting friends on the weekend, watching a sports game at home, sitting around the campfire, after doing yardwork. What’s the ingredient to making almost everything more enjoyable? A drink!
I even used to like just having a glass of wine while watching my shows at night, or Steve and I would pop a few beers in the cooler before the dog park, and we sometimes drink while we play disc golf. It’s just a little add-on, right? But the cost is crazy.
Our usual 6-pack of craft beer is, at the lowest, $9.99. A low shelf bottle of wine round these parts is usually $6.99. We don’t tend to imbibe in liquor, which is even more expensive, although some might argue it goes a longer way, depending on how much you’re consuming. But isn’t alcohol one of those things where if you have it, you consume it? Beers hanging out in our fridge just don’t last long, and no sooner do we buy an item for our liquor cabinet, but it seems to be gone! Generally, there are a few lonesome bottles of something completely unappealing like Lady Bligh and some random champagne bottles hanging out in there, relics of New Year’s Eve’s past.
Here’s the kicker, it’s not good for you. One glass of red wine a day, maybe, although I feel like the experts waffle back and forth on that point routinely. The truth is, it packs on the pounds around your waist, adds calories to your diet, and isn’t doing your liver any favors, even in small doses. And if you drink often, your poor wallet is taking a hit as well.
But if you aren’t ready to give up your poison (frankly, I know I’m not), what are some alternatives to this common vice?
1. Start by just drinking less.
Maybe you only drink in the company of others now (no more solo glasses of wine during Netflix), or you only drink on the weekends, or you never have drinks when dining out. Don’t even get me started on the cost of drinking at a restaurant or bar. A little part of me dies every time I buy one drink out and it’s nearly the cost of a six pack or entire bottle of wine. When you go out to dinner, remember that you’re going for the food, not the drinks.
2. Price compare your alcohol.
Just like everything else, different stores have different pricing for alcohol. This won’t be the exact case where you live, but I’ve noticed a six-pack of craft beer at our grocer is about $2.00 less than the Wine and Spirit shop nearby. We also have an International Market that has great markdowns, and they usually has a great sale on one type of alcohol each week where you can stock up for a low price.
3. Drink before you go out.
There’s nothing wrong with pre-gaming at home before you start your night out! We like to do this before sporting events or concerts, where drink prices are exorbitant AF.
Cheese Danish, Mocha Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, French Onion Dip. Oh, those just a few of my favorites. I have to summon up the utmost control when grocery shopping, or those and twenty other calorie-laden goodies end up in my basket. Junk food is expensive and terrible for your body. Absolutely terrible. Not only does it have a negative impact, but it does nothing to satiate your hunger. You stuff yourself with chemicals and non-food products only to be left still hungry and unfulfilled.
How to avoid junk food at the grocery store
1. Arm yourself with a list. Stick to the list.
2. Don’t keep it in the house.
If you crave junk food, make it harder on yourself to acquire it by keeping it out of the house. If you want ice cream, make yourself walk the five blocks to the neighborhood creamy whip. That way, ff you want a donut you need to leave your house, get in the car, drive to the bakery, order, pay, get back in your car, drive back home, etc… Laziness might very well win out over indulging in your sweet tooth.
3. Buy the raw ingredients.
If you want brownies or lemon squares buy the raw ingredients to make it and force yourself to bake the treat instead of buying it prepackaged. This will at least ensure that you know what’s going in your food, and it may deter you from indulging too often since you’ll need to put in a little elbow grease. It will also save you money in the long run by buying raw ingredients.
4. Replace junk food with fruit.
Fruit is nature’s candy, after all. Pineapple, mango, strawberries, cantaloupe. These are all sweet and will satisfy the sugar craving. When you get your produce home from the store, immediately cut it into bite size pieces and store it in a place in your fridge where you’ll see it often.
Fast food just as bad as junk food and possibly even harder to avoid. The times where we are most vulnerable to the drive thru is when we’re hungry and tired. We’ve all had that moment where we got caught up in running errands, had to work late, or find ourselves arriving home later than usual for whatever reason. Our stomachs are growling and the thought of going home and making dinner is almost unbearable. And just as these thoughts are creeping into your head you see the golden arches rising high into the clouds. It’d be so easy to swing through, order a burger, fries, and a milk shake. Then you can go home and crash and not worry about cleaning up, either. Once this little thought takes hold, there is almost no going back.
1st defense against fast food
Snacks in your car. For this very reason you need to have a stash of snacks in your car. Nothing crazy, just some jerky, dried fruit, or a bag of popcorn. Just something to quiet the hunger until you reach home.
2nd defense against fast food
Something easy to make at home. Nights like these you need something to make at home that is more convenient than going through the drive thru. The last thing you want to be doing is washing and chopping vegetables, stirring things in pots, following a recipe. No, you need something seriously easy. You can meal prep for these situations in advance and keep some containers marked for this purpose in your freezer, or you can allow yourself to store some frozen pizza, or frozen dinners in your freezer. Have something handy that can be popped in the oven while you go change into your comfy clothes and let the dog out.
If you purchase junk food because you think it’s tasty, try to find some copycat recipes online. Steve has perfected the at-home Chipotle burrito bowl, and we also make wings and French fries as a treat occasionally, especially when watching sports at home.
There is life after cigarettes, I promise. I quit cold-turkey over three years ago and haven’t missed them since. It takes sheer will-power, resolve, and, most importantly, a desire to stop forever. It can be done. I quit because I was tired of treating my body like crap, and throwing money down the drain. A pack where we live is around $6.00, so that adds up quickly. I know that’s actually a low number and it can be much more expensive in other regions. If you absolutely cannot find the will to quit, then take up vaping or roll your own cigarettes. I cannot speak to whether either of those are healthier, but I know it will save you money, and may be a step in the right direction.
When did coffee become a personality? I’m beginning to see t-shirts, memes, and profile pictures now with catchy phrases like “But first, coffee”, or “Just Brew It”. Suddenly it’s en vogue to have a coffee cup as a permanent fixture in your hand (should you just be hooked up to a coffee drip at this point?) or be a frazzled maniac without your latte. I like coffee too, but I like it most when it’s free (read: at the office). I mean, if they offered free beer at my office, I’d be drinking that, too.
For the weekends I buy a bag of beans for a reasonable price (usually something new I’ve never tried before), and grind and press our own. Our bag of beans goes far since we’re only drinking it on the weekends, and we stop after one cup.
How not to spend so much time and money on America’s favorite caffeinated beverage?
1. Partake in free coffee at work.
2. Brew at home and take your coffee in a travel mug.
3. Don’t be sucked into expensive or high-end gadgets
If you must buy special equipment to brew your coffee, I suggest looking for used items either on the Marketplace or Ebay. We registered and received the AeroPress Coffee Maker for our wedding. It’s a press that is easy to use, makes a great cup of coffee, and is perfect for camping or making coffee while traveling. Although we didn’t buy it, the price is very affordable.
4. Cut back
Try to get your 4-5 cup a day habit down to one. Do it gradually by reducing it by a cup each week or so, I’ve heard caffeine withdrawal can be nasty, so take it slow!
Maybe you have a vice that I haven’t mentioned here. What are the extras in your life that are adding expense, while contributing little to your overall health and happiness? Have you tried to cut back or quit, or are you simply living life on autopilot? Examine your vices and see if there isn’t room for improvement. Changing your habits is challenging, but like most challenges the rewards can be great!