Ever notice how articles on this blog seem to alternate between topics on investing and topics on saving? It’s no accident.
I view investing and savings as two heads of the same snake — the yin and the yang of wealth building. Two complementary forces that build wealth — You can’t invest without savings, and there’s no point in saving unless you plan to invest.
Today, we’re going to talk about the health and wealth sapping industry of flavored water.
Birth Of The Beverage Industry
The human body is roughly 60 percent water. We need water to survive, and maintain our regular bodily functions. Most humans usually consume around 1-2 liters of water per day, but it varies considerably (depending upon the person).
Originally, humanity filled this water need by just drinking the stuff straight. Straight out of the stream, river, or lake. This state of beverage affairs was simple, cheap, usually healthy, and a human didn’t need to spend his (or her) wealth on water (at least not much of it).
Unfortunately, much of the world’s water is filled with minerals, bacteria, impurities, and other undesirable stuff. This often imbues the world’s water with strange and unpalatable flavors. Rather than put up with this state of affairs, mankind discovered that water could be flavored — and the world was forever changed. From fermented beverages (like mead, beer, and wine) to tea and coffee, countless forms of flavored water have been invented for human consumption. But should we be consuming it?
The search for better water flavoring would expand mankind’s reach across the planet. Global empires would eventually be built around the trading of teas, sugar & spices, and all the necessary ingredients for flavored water (grapes, molasses, and so forth).
As businesses go, flavored water was a smashing success. Pubs, coffee shops, and tea houses went up practically overnight (and this style of business still exists today). Consumers went nuts over flavored water.
Eventually people realized visiting the pub to get flavored water was just a little inconvenient (and expensive). Bottling was summarily invented as a solution. This discovery allowed humanity to drink many of our favorite flavored waters wherever and whenever we wanted.
All this just to supply us with the ever-popular flavored water.
Heck, even the American Revolution was started (at least in-part) over excessive taxation of tea.
Today, the flavored water business is bigger than ever. According to data I could find, the United States consumes over 41 billion gallons of flavored waters per year. Alcohol-type liquids alone consumed $197 billion dollars in retail sales.
Holy Tentacles! Flavored Water is BIG!
Wasting Wealth & Health
Despite the fact that the human body needs water, flavored water was probably the very first accessible luxury. Flavoring would have been a luxury item — Not necessary for survival, but still affordable for the masses.
Intentional, or not, many flavored waters are filled with stimulants like sugar (that causes the production of dopamine), and other addictive substances (caffeine, alcohol, etc). Flavored water ended up being addictive for society, and it causes significant problems.
Obesity and alcoholism continually plague our society, and they won’t be going away anytime soon.
For those of us who desire financial independence, we can see the flavored water industry for what it is….yet one more way to waste our wealth and our health on consumerism.
For some reason Starbucks often gets a lot of the criticism, but any flavored water company is just as guilty. They’re all selling us addictive flavored liquids at prices higher than liquid gold.
Yes, I’m referring to crude oil. Crude is sometimes given the nickname “liquid gold” because it’s one of the most valuable commodities on the planet. We consume tons of the stuff, and it isn’t cheap!
Today, a barrel of oil (approximately 42 gallons) sells for about $45. That’s roughly $1 per gallon. It’s incredibly cheap if you consider the price of other liquids (with similar global distribution and retail networks) that sell a small 12 ounce container for over $1.
That’s right, flavored water typically sells at 10 times the price of so called “liquid gold”. Sometimes more than that! I suspect that the average American family in the United States actually spends more on flavored water annually than they do on vehicle fuel.
Remember that next time you gripe about fuel prices, but casually purchase a soft drink from the convenience store.
Understand, Choose, Control
I’m not suggesting you abstain from all forms of flavored water. You don’t have to just stick with plain tap water. Our family certainly doesn’t.
I’m suggesting you remember it’s all optional and frequently addicting. You could just drink tap water (most places are safe), but no one should need to abstain from all pleasure in life to attain financial independence.
What I am suggesting is that you gain an understanding of the beverage industry. If you choose to make changes in your life you can gain back control. Gain enough control over your life, and you’ll eventually reach financial independence.
You don’t need to completely abstain from all consumerism to make big difference in your financial life, but abstaining from most of it probably wouldn’t hurt. Flavored water is no exception. Most forms of it are a waste of your hard earned cash.
But that’s OK. The beauty of financial independence is you get to choose what’s important to you.
If you’ve read this blog for very long, you’ll know I’m not a drinker of alcohol-based beverages. It was a choice I made. Other than milk (for the kids), we don’t buy any soft drinks, or juice products either. I don’t want the kids forming habits around those products. Most of that stuff is really unhealthy!
We chose not to buy it, and I think our lives are better because of it. We drink mostly water, milk, and tea.
We chose tea as our form of “flavored water”. I’m talking about dried tea of course, not that bottled sugar water in American supermarkets.
Tea is actually a pretty affordable product, and probably the least financially damaging flavoring.
If you think back to your great-great-grandparent’s age, tea was one of the few flavored beverages that the common people could afford. It came in a variety of flavors, and required no bottling, refrigeration or special preservation techniques (other than keeping it dry).
Tea is still dirt cheap today. At a cost of around $0.10 cents per serving, it’s one of the cheapest forms of water flavoring on the planet. Possibly the cheapest. Besides the tea, all you really need is water. Sure, you can get fancy with your own flavorings and sweeteners, but they aren’t necessary.
Besides being natural, it’s also considered a fairly healthy product. Lots of research has been done over the years on drinking tea. While I’m no expert, supposedly the polyphenols contained within tea have beneficial health effects.
None of the research seems terribly conclusive, but from this I can conclude — Tea probably won’t kill me faster.
So far, it has made me richer, thinner, and less addicted to consumerism…and that brings a mighty big smile to my face.