Convenience vs. Pocketbook in a fight to the last penny

Posted by on March 23, 2014 in Blog, This and that

I did something stupid today.

(Actually, I do lots of stupid things most days, so I suppose some specificity couldn’t hurt.)

I bought a vending machine soda.

Oh, Mountain Dew. Why did I let you lead me down this path to ruin? (John Simcoe photo)

Oh, Mountain Dew. Why did I let you lead me down this path to ruin? (John Simcoe photo)


The scope of stupidity

This could be stupid for a number of reasons, but I’ll restrain the scope of stupidity to just two points:

  1. Caloric intake
  2. Financial cost

I’m not a coffee drinker, so on a normal day, I drink one 12-ounce can of soda at work to stay caffeinated and alert. I buy 12-packs of soda when they’re on sale, and I bring one can to work each day in my lunch bag. (Ice-pack inserts are some of my favorite things.)

So on a normal day: 12 ounces of soda (150 calories) for 25 cents.


The cruel tutelage of the vending machine

The vending machine in my office doesn’t sell 12-ounce cans of soda. It only sells 20-ounce bottles. And we all know that no matter what labels say about serving sizes, the truth is that a “serving size” for a beverage is whatever the size of the container is, unless you’re splitting a 2-liter with a friend. So I bought 20 ounces of soda (290 calories) for a whopping $1.40.

That’s the cost of convenience. By not anticipating soda needs and stocking up on sale weeks, I paid 7 cents per ounce instead of just over 2 cents per ounce, and I nearly doubled my caloric intake.

Big deal. One day, right?

But what if I made a habit of this stupidity?


The horror of the big picture

Let’s extend the totals to an annual measure of stupidity. Five workdays per week, give or take 50 weeks per year — we’ll assume I’m not coming into the office to buy soda on my vacation:


250 sodas

Buying 12-ounce cans on sale at $3 per 12-pack, I’m spending $62.50 and gulping down 37,500 calories I’ll need to work off.

But buying 20-ounce bottles at $1.40 each from the vending machine? I’m spending $350 and swilling 72,500 calories per year.

In addition to nearly doubling my caloric intake, I’m emptying my wallet more than five times faster than I would by just thinking ahead.

The $287.50 difference is more than a month’s worth of groceries for my family.

And that’s why I’m kicking myself for buying a vending machine soda. I won’t be making that mistake again.