My sweet tooth is an expensive addiction, costing about $1,000 annually on sugary treats. I tracked my money leaks and was stunned by the amount spent on junk food. This realization is especially shocking because I am a yoga-contorting, tofu-eating health nut.
I consume flax seed, vitamins and green tea. But my shopping list also includes double chocolate muffins, cappuccino ice cream and sports drinks packed with calories.
The new frugal diet: Less sugar on weekdays with the goal of saving almost $1,000 in candied treats during the next 12 months. I'm serious: From Monday through Friday, I will not eat: candy, soda, sweetened power drinks, muffins, donuts, cakes, Danishes and other treats. Even dried fruit -- especially the candied variety -- is on my Do Not Eat (DNE) List.
The calculations are stunning. On a real sugary week, breakfast sweets and other treats really take a bite out of my budget. I spend up to $20-$25 a week, $80-$100/month or $720 - $1,000/annually on junk food. Think about it: my favorite muffins (600 calories per serving) are $3.50 each. If I have one muffin each morning before work, that's $17.50 a week, just for breakfast treats.
Despite my initial denials, the evidence was hard to ignore. As I studied the numbers recorded in a small notebook, I realized that sugar was eating away at my health and my bank account. So as a fiscal and physical fix, I've begun a new get-rich, get-healthy diet. I'm in Week #2 and here are my rules.
1. No after-dinner desserts or breakfast treats or midday sugar snacks during the weekday.
2. Cut back on processed food with high sugar content.
3. Read labels and avoid sugar substitutes such as corn starch, maple syrup and fructose.
4. Drink lots of unsweetened herbal teas. Sugar in coffee is allowed. Drink lots of water.
5. Limit fruit juices. When I do drink fruit juices, I've been diluting the OJ and cranberry juice with water.
6. Desserts and treats, however, are permitted from sundown Friday night until Sunday night. Weekend luxuries are permitted as a perk for good behavior during the week.
Sharon Harvey Rosenberg is the author of The Frugal Duchess of South Beach: How to Live Well and Save Money... Anywhere!, which will be published in June of 2008 by DPL Press