Warren Buffett can certainly afford a haircut that costs more than $10. But just because he has the money to spend, doesn’t mean he should spend it. If you develop similar spending habits, the cash can add up quickly. What you drink when dining out is one such expense that can make a difference over time.
Dining out comprises a significant portion of average family expenses. Restaurants, hungry for more revenue, have rapidly increased the cost of drinks over the past several years. I was in a restaurant recently where a glass of iced tea cost $3.00. That may not sound like much, until you realize that iced tea is mostly just flavored water. Would you pay $3.00 for a glass of water? Probably not!
For years, I have practiced the habit of not ordering a drink when I dine out. Instead, I order a glass of ice water and lemon. Water is free in most restaurants. If you are a family of four and you do the same, that saves $12 off the total dinner tab, and even more when you consider tax and tip. If the kids want a soda, have them wait until they get home, then pour one from a can. A can of soda costs 22 cents, or less than 1/10th what the restaurant would have charged!
If you are out at a bar with friends, you can still order a glass of water. Bars almost never charge you for water. If you don’t want water, you can order a soda. The bar will typically charge $2.00, and refills are usually free all night. Your total tab for the night is then $2.00, while your buddies are paying $20 or more for their beer! If you still want a beer, on your way home drop by the liquor store and pick up a 6-pack. The cost will be much less than ordering it in the bar!
Financial wealth is rarely created by winning the lottery. Instead, it is created through daily habits, which add up over long periods of time. So the next time you find yourself in a restaurant or bar, simple order ice water and lemon, and save yourself a few bucks. This habit is worth more than $20,000 over a lifetime, and possibly more depending on how often you are accustomed to dining out.