Save money by carrying a water bottle

I've intended to begin featuring entries from the recent GRS video contest, but things keep getting in the way. Let's change that! Starting today, I'll use Saturdays to highlight some of my favorites, both winners and not-winners. To begin, here's a tip that didn't win a prize.

Austin from Foreigner's Finances is teaching English in Japan. He says that one of his favorite ways to save money is to always carry a water bottle with him.

Austin's tip seems simple on the surface, but so is a lot of smart spending. Here's a quote:

Every time I'm out shopping for groceries, out with friends for the weekend, or out for the day around town, I bring a water bottle with me. When I'm thirsty, I fill it up in a water fountain or, if I have to, a bathroom sink. [This allows me to avoid] those little two- to five-dollar purchases that really add up when you're thirsty and want a quick drink.

If you spent just five bucks a week on water and soda, you'd save $250 a year by using a water bottle instead.

This is actually something I started doing myself when we returned from Belize in early March. I decided I wanted to drink more water, so I paid $15 for a fancy one-liter SIGG bottle. (Yes, that's a lot of money. I have no defense other than it's a shiny blue, and I love it.) Since buying the bottle, I've put it to almost constant use. I no longer buy water or diet soda from the convenience store next to my office; I just fill up from the water fountain. Instead of using the plastic bottles at my gym, I take my own water. Simple, yes, but also cost-effective.

You don't have to spend $20 on a water bottle (unless you want to and can afford it). But think about carrying your water with you — it can save you money and improve your health.

Look for more video tips in the coming weeks!

More about...Frugality, Food

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Bucksome Boomer
Bucksome Boomer

That’s a great tip. It’s also an environmentally better choice than plastic water bottles so it’s a double win.

My favorite water bottle is the camelbak.

Melissa A.
Melissa A.

I’ve been carrying my own water bottle since I was a teenager in the mid 90’s! I don’t remember why I started, but I pretty much never leave my house without my water bottle.

I don’t think spending $15 on a water bottle is a lot. If you think how much it would cost to buy bottled water every day, that would add up quickly. Not only that, but cheap water bottles can leak and need to be replaced often, and many of the plastic ones leach chemicals into your water.

Amber
Amber

I have several water bottles, but I just spent the best $15 on a water bottle. It’s double-walled, so it doesn’t sweat, keeps the water cold– I live in the desert and often have ice still in the bottle when it’s 100 degrees out, and it fits in a cup holder. I love it because I save money when I’m out, sometimes a lot of money, I can have cold water wherever I go, and it’s also much healthier in many cases.

Beth
Beth

The company my friend works for used to let employees have all the free bottled water they wanted. A few years ago, they decided to buy everyone stainless steel water bottles instead. My friend and her coworkers love them, and there’s a lot less waste (both financially and in materials)

I bought a Kleen Kanteen a few years back, and my family and friends liked it so much that now it seems everyone has one 😉 I must say they make good gifts too!

Mark
Mark

I find this almost compulsive need to have something available to drink with you all day pretty funny. My saving money tip: not drinking something a zillion times a day. I’ll just wait until I get home, or just use those public fountains/business water coolers. The only time you’ll see me with a water bottle is when I’m hiking or biking. I suspect it has something to do with people being more “health conscious” or in a drive to lose weight, at least when it comes to water. There’s a prevalent myth out there that you need to keep drinking… Read more »

Courtney
Courtney

I have a SIGG but haven’t used it in quite a while. This is a great reminder. Living in a dry climate, I drink so much water. It really is crazy to think I spend between $5 and $10 per week on bottled water by not being prepared when out and about.

Going to wash out the SIGG now!

leslie
leslie

I also have a shiny blue Sigg bottle and I love it too! Of course, mine looks like it has been through some sort of war. I work at a gym and I seem to drop it a lot. I figure the dents and scratches just give it personality and mean that no one is going to walk away with it. Still works just as well. On occasion I forget to bring it with me and it KILLS me to spend $1.50 on a bottled water (but I have to have water while I am teaching).

becky
becky

I have a Cambelbak BPA free bottle & it has a built-in straw. I use it constantly & take it every time I go out of the house. Love it.

And we use a stainless bottle to take milk w/us for our son when we’re out & about. I have a small cooler & I stick the bottle & a reusable ice pack & the metal keeps the milk nice & cold even on really hot days. Perfect!

Tansy
Tansy

I agree with Melissa A., cheap bottles often leak. $15. is a good investment if a bottle is well designed and lasts for years.

We are fortunate to have very good water at home (from a deep well) which I carry with me instead of buying expensive ‘flavored water’ beverages. Now that I’m used to not buying beverages, I don’t miss them. If I want something hot, I can microwave some water and make tea with a teabag brought from home.

Steven@hundredgoals.com

I think it is actually better to buy a decent container for water that you can wash. After a while of refilling an old water bottle, it seems kind of nasty. Yeah, its only water in there but still.

On a sidenote, JD, that strange white box seems to have shown up again on this post. 🙁

Holly
Holly

I spent $20 on one of those fancy water bottles for my daughter who plays volleyball. It was an impulse purchase.

My daughter ended up back w/plastic water bottles because this one is too big and the ‘mouth’ is too small to fit ice cubes through. It is also awkward to drink from.

I am now looking for a suitable replacement. Lesson learned: research the product first!!

Brian B
Brian B

If you want to add a little flavour every once in a while, grab some of those Crystal Light powdery tubes. I think they are something like $2.99 for a box.

Chipmunk
Chipmunk

Although I like the idea, where on earth did we get the idea that we have be constantly drinking something? I totally agree with [email protected] We only need to drink when we are genuinely thirsty! And most of us, living in modern societies, are rarely ever very far away from sources of clean drinking water anyway. By the way Austin did you know that foreigners (especially N. Americans) and their gigantic water bottles are regarded as a kind of joke in Japan? Especially as so many of them have such unhealthy lifestyle habits in all other respects.

Emily
Emily

I started keeping a large metal water bottle in my office; I fill it twice a day and pour water into a glass I also keep in my office. Maybe it’s all in my head, but the water tastes better coming out of metal than plastic, and I don’t get so many headaches when I’m drinking enough water. Another added savings of the water bottle: less spent on Advil!

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski

I also agree with Mark and Chipmunk. I don’t want to carry a bottle around with me constantly, so I won’t unless I’m hiking or biking. I can wait till I get home/to a restaurant/to work/to a park with a water fountain and get a drink there. If I’m going to give up the use of one hand I’d rather carry around a camera than a water bottle, and even that I normally don’t do.

Melissa A.
Melissa A.

@Mark: I do get thirsty throughout the day, which is why I always have a water bottle on me. In fact I probably drink more water when I’m out than when I am home because I get warm walking around and need the water to cool me down.

Cely
Cely

From my doctor: if you wait until you’re thirsty to drink, you are already dehydrated. True, you don’t need to guzzle eight glasses a day, but most people could benefit by drinking more water. Replacing coffee and soda with water would probably be more than enough but most people aren’t willing to do that.

The Speech Diva
The Speech Diva

I decided to stop spending money on water, and bought a water bottle for $15. Loved it. Then I lost it after one week. 🙁

Holly
Holly

I tend to keep a water bottle handy, not necessarily because I want to drink constantly, but for the following reasons: 1. Headaches are a major reason why I try to stay ‘hydrated’, particularly in the summer months. I noticed, for me, drinking water relieves most of my headaches. 2. I carry a water bottle around because I drink too much coffee which seems to cause a dry mouth. 3. It’s almost a habit for me to find myself thirsty just 10 minutes after I leave the house. Having a drink handy keeps me from frittering $ simply to quench… Read more »

Leah
Leah

I do a lot of public speaking (teaching, guided walks, experiential education etc) and a water bottle is invaluable there. I’ve got a couple different options. I have a camelback style backback system that works really well if I need two free hands (hiking or guided walks). I’ve also got a Nalgene bottle that I can throw around anywhere. At home or in the classroom, I just use a glass.

I love this tip, and I honestly don’t understand why people would rather buy bottled water than just get a reusable bottle.

Sarah
Sarah

I love this one. It also has such a huge environmental impact, in four ways. Less oil used to make plastic, less plastic into landfills, less overuse of aquifers, less oil used to transport water across the country (sometimes transcontinentally).

Karen J
Karen J

I talk on the phone all day, so yes, I do get thirsty and sometimes the cool water helps my throat. I bought a large hot pink plastic jug with a flip top lid for $1 at the dollar store. I wish it did keep the water cold, but I didn’t want something with a straw since the straw gets nasty and has to be replaced, even if you just use it for water.

Sarah
Sarah

I find it hilarious that people are here to tell us to drink less water. Who is it hurting? Drinking less coffee tends to improve stress level, saves money, for people who use cream/sugar it’s a calorie reduction. Drinking less soda has huge health benefits. But let’s focus on people and their silly ideas about water! :/ For myself, I run every morning. I used to not carry water with me, and I used to just drink a glass at home or the office. I found over the years that I have fewer headaches and fatigue as well as fewer… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole

Who knew that drinking water would be so controversial?

Another use for a water bottle– we keep my son’s (stainless steel) next to his bed so that he can’t need a glass of water before going to sleep and doesn’t need us to get him water if he wakes up thirsty.

Austin @ Foreigner's Finances
Austin @ Foreigner's Finances

@Chipmunk

There’s a lot of things foreigners do that Japanese people don’t approve of so after a while you just stop trying to please every one.

There already distracted by my big nose, long legs, and weird eyes so they probably don’t even notice my water bottle 😉

S
S

“or just use those public fountains”

“Has anyone else out there heard that there is evidence that most public water fountains are riddled w/bacteria? And I’m not the squeamish type, just curious.”

I used to fill my water bottle daily at work from the wall mounted water fountain (in a public building) until I saw the cleaning staff, after mopping the bathrooms, dump the dirty bucket of water into the water fountain. Never again…

Now, I just bring a gallon from home every other day or so….

Lisa B.
Lisa B.

I’m a real estate agent in hot Arizona. I freeze half bottles of water and fill them to take with me on the road. When one runs out the next is ready and still cold. Saves me money and saves the environment.

rosetta stone
rosetta stone

well as fewer muscle cramps if I drink more consistently, while I’m running and afterward. And since I don’t work in a traditional office where I can have a glass of water whenever I want, having a bottle in my bag that I can drink when I’m on the bus, waiting in line

rosetta stone
rosetta stone

bacteria? And I’m not the squeamish type, just curious.”

I used to fill my water bottle daily at work from the wall mounted water fountain (in a public building) until I saw the

Jonathan D
Jonathan D

I bought my first SIGG over 5 years ago, a tall 1.5L; I still use it today when I am going to be away from the tap for long periods of time. Over the years it’s taken constant beatings, and it’s dented in several places, but it’s still holding up so well I wouldn’t be surprised if I have it in another 10 years. I also bought a .6L SIGG that fits snuggly in a pocket, which I use to just carry around. SIGG sells tablets you can use to clean their bottles, which I highly recommend. Another way I’ve… Read more »

Aerin
Aerin

Carrying a water bottle is frugal, and in my case it’s also a protest. Bottled water is another front for the privatization of our natural resources. Multinational companies drain our aquifers and turn around and sell our water back to us. What was once believed to belong to everyone (and no one) is now controlled by a corporation. Bottled water is marketed as just another “lifestyle choice” but the implications are much more serious. The water these companies are selling to me is already mine, and I refuse to participate in the theft and commodification of our planet’s resources.

shannon
shannon

I also bring a water bottle wherever I go! Or if I know I’ll be going out to a restaurant, I bring a can of pop with me and drink it in the car on the way there. It solves my soda urge, and then I just drink water at the restaurant. 30 cents for a can vs $2 -3 with a meal!

Avistew
Avistew

It’s a great, simple tip. I tend to drink a lot, so I always have my bottle around. <most of the time I use it at home – actually, I don’t think I ever drink water from a glass anymore – but I also take it around in my bag wherever I go. Whenever there is a washroom or a water fountain, I refill it. In summer, I put it in the freezer overnight first (leaving some room and not closing it, so it doesn’t burst) and I have nice, cold water all day as it melts slowly.

KC
KC

I bought 3 27oz aluminum water bottles w/ removable neoprene sleeve at Costco for $15. I use them quite a bit on the tennis courts and just for drinking chilled water around the house. Much better than those plastic bottle. Once they started making water bottle using less plastic you can barely pick them up without them collapsing. These aluminum water bottles are much stronger. I don’t usually carry a water bottle with me everywhere, but if I know I’m going to be in my car for an hour+ or out of the house for a couple of hours I’ll… Read more »

Erica
Erica

I was just on vacation in Europe and I brought my trusty water bottle ($5.00 at TJ Maxx a few years ago). I brought it on the plane (it has to be empty to go through customs); I filled it up post-customs in the airport, and filled up with water from the bathroom sink in my hotel each day. I didn’t spend a single euro on water, I’m very proud to say. Plus it’s a good thing not to use all that plastic.

jen
jen

I think the most expensive part of any meal is the beverage, unless it’s some sort of fancy beer or wine I bet the establishment is making a lot of money off of it.

Mike Crosby
Mike Crosby

Drink 8 glasses a water a day. That’s one of the myths perpetuated.

Here’s a post I did on my blog about that: http://uncommonlybrilliant.blogspot.com/2010/02/recommended-water-intake-myth.html

BTW, not trying to drive traffic to my blog. Truth is, I don’t care.

At the gym I see guys carrying around 1 gallon water bottles with them, and I laugh. The gym has 3 water fountains, no farther than a 10 second walk, and of course a men’s and women’s bathroom.

DreamChaser57
DreamChaser57

No need to be apologetic about spending your money, JD – on a water bottle, its $15 for goodness sakes. I brought a plastic bottle from Jamba Juice – I love it, but somehow I’ve gravitated to plastic again. This is a great reminder to get back to the environmentally conscious and fiscally conservative choice.

Samantha
Samantha

I don’t understand this – why are people being so weird (defensive?) about water bottles? The people who drink a lot of water every day don’t do it because they’re trying to prove anything, or they think they have to do it to survive according to some myth… they’re just thirsty.

Del
Del

I’m with @Aerin . Yes, it is a good frugal choice but there is also another story surrounding water . The current issue of Yes! magazine covers water in depth. And, thank you Austin for reminding us that sometimes the little things do count.

aaron
aaron

hate to say it but SIGG brand bottles are lined with plastic which is produced using BPA. I know that their marketing claims that it cant leach out due to some magical process that only they know how to do, but this is the same tired line weve been hearing from all companies who use this chemical. the only chemically “safe” containers are glass and stainless steel.

VT
VT

I fill a travel cup with ice water and keep it in the car when I’m out doing errands …
At work, the company put in dispensers that run the water through a filter. Tastes OK to me, but a lot of people still complain that it tastes bad and buy bottled water instead.

Vita
Vita

Thanks for this absolutely wonderful tip. Having just recently purchased an expense tracker for my iTouch, I see how right you are. Case in point, last week I was on my way to the Water Works Cafe behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I got a throat tickle and needed to buy some spring water en route. I purchased a pint of water from a street vendor for $2. You heard it right two bucks. Had I carried a water bottle with me, I would have had the water I needed to keep me from coughing incessantly, as I would… Read more »

Anca
Anca

I have a small SIGG (6 oz or so) that fits in my small purse. I like having a bit of water with me in case I start coughing in the middle of a movie theater or I’m eating something on the go and need to wash down a troublesome piece of food.

PS: I read somewhere that a cheap way to clean reusable bottles is with denture-cleaning tablets.

myfinancialobjectives
myfinancialobjectives

I use this tactic DAILY. I bring a bottle of water to work every day and use it for breakfast and lunch, not to mention throughout the entire day.

I cannot remember the last time I had to buy a drink at lunch. Not only does it save me money, but it is healthier too!

JB
JB

I started doing this over a year ago and don’t know how I lived without. Having water with me at all times is so handy and means I drink a lot more water.

I got a small 16 oz bottle because it fits easily in my car cup holder or purse. I refill it often during the day and also gives me a reason to get up a lot at work, or else I’m sitting all day!

Bear
Bear

Amazing how people get sucked in to brand name marketing – SIGG. Really folks, go to Walmart, buy a $2 BPA free water bottle. I’ve carried one now for 3 years in my truck, on my motorcycle, hiking, works great. AND I can walk into any convenience store and put it under the ice dispenser to fill it with nice cold cubes and then add water from whatever soda/lemonade spigot has the water also! All for FREE! Sure it doesn’t look cool but its the little things like that save pennies that have allowed me to save real $$$$ so… Read more »

chromacosmic
chromacosmic

@aaron (#41) I had the same Sigg bottle since 2001, it was going strong until that blow up about BPA in the lining. I’m not sure who to believe, as I am a lifelong cynic……………but, Sigg did do a voluntary recall, where you could send your old bottle and they replaced it. They maintained that their formula for the lining was always safe, but reformulated it anyway. The way to tell is the color of your lining. The old bottles are gold inside, almost like apple juice in color, while the new ones are colorless. So was there BPA in… Read more »

Karen in MN
Karen in MN

This is a great tip! I always keep bottled water at work and in the car, from cases that I buy at discount at Sam’s club. Each bottle costs only $0.15–spare change for me. And when we’re traveling, we save the bottles and refill them from faucets at the hotel. I am not one of those poeople who constantly needs to be guzzling something (I just wait until I get home), but my kids are likely to suddenly demand something to drink when we are out running errands and now I can just say “there’s water in the car”. I… Read more »

Heather
Heather

The best thing my work site ever did was to offer “spring water” for free out of the large dispensers.

They gave us a water bottle at the beginning of the year as well.

I wish all work places would offer free “spring water.” True, tap water is free but it does have a taste to it is you are in a town.

For home use, we have one of those cooler systems and we refill our own at a local mountain stream.

Great blog-good thoughts!

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