When I was first starting out with this whole being frugal thang, I read a lot about how one should always be prepared and not have to buy things like food on the fly. Whilst I do totally agree with this, for us, it’s just not practical to completely forgo bottled water. You see, every Sunday we travel to the bum end of nowhere and walk dogs. These dogs require water, as do we. We take a bobble bottle, which I love, but I find that if I take more than one (i.e. the one I need for running), they get left in the car and end up going manky, then it’s a hassle to wash them (I’m lazy, folks).
So we stick to buying bottled water, DESPITE warnings from frugal bloggers that this would render us destitute (jokes).
Instead of saying ‘NO BOTTLED WATER EVER!’ we stick to getting cheeeeap water. We’re pretty good at getting a good deal on them, and for those of you lazy people out there that don’t remember to pack water, I thought I’d share my secrets! So here goes:
1 – Buy multipacks
12 or 24 packs of water are regularly on sale in Tesco, so we pick them up with our weekly shop (ensuring we’re not spending extra money on them – they’ll just push another, less important item out of our online shopping basket). It also means that if the brand that’s on sale is sold out, Tesco will replace it with another. Whoop. We keep the pack in the spare bedroom and grab a couple every Sunday as we go out of the door. In the winter months, we just keep them in the boot of car.
2 – Buy it at McDonalds
Ok, bear with me here. Every once in a while, if we’re going to be out all day, we grab our breakfast at McDonalds. We’ve found that for under a tenner we can get a big breakfast (I usually get 2 egg McMuffins because I’m a pig) for both of us that keeps us filled up until our evening meal. For only a few pence extra, we get a meal deal which includes a hash brown and a drink. Most people would choose tea or coffee for breakfast, but we opt for water – and four bottles will last all day. So have your coffee at home first!#
3 – Buy own brand
There’s been a surge in recent years about the various properties of bottled water. All this volcano crap and mineral deposits and smart water and blah blah blah. For our purposes water is water. We drink it because it’s cheap, doesn’t rot your teeth and it keeps you hydrated. We’re lucky enough to live in the UK, where by law tap water has to be of the same quality as bottled. The only reason we take bottles is the convenience of a sterilised bottle (and of course we recycle the bottles, after they rattled around the bottom of the car for a couple of weeks. For these reasons, we buy either own brand water or whichever is on offer. THERE IS NO POINT IN BEING A WATER SNOB. The only reason to drink expensive, branded water, is if you prefer the taste. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to like expensive water (and I can’t taste the difference).
4 – Flavour it yourself
Flavoured water is so highly marked up it’s ridiculous. I appreciate that a lot of people don’t like plain water – luckily I do and my rabbits can’t complain BUT I imagine hydrating a child that doesn’t like water is an expensive game. Although taking your own squash is an option, it’s not the most ideal for little teeth, so I’d pop a couple of mint leaves in, or some cucumber slices, or similar. There’re loads of ideas on Pinterest for flavouring water.
5 – Stay away from the fridge
Supermarkets are laid out in a way that almost forces you to spend money. The water they keep in the chillers at the ends of the aisles and near fresh sandwiches is waaay more expensive that the stuff they keep in the aisles with the soda. There is also a larger choice of brands, and multipacks. Anything put in a convenient location near the entrance or till (register) tends to have a cheaper counterpart elsewhere in the store. Usual supermarket rules apply too: look at items at ground level and on the top shelves – the more expensive stuff is at eye level. Also, check unit prices of anything in bulk (we often just assume it’s cheaper to buy in bulk when it may actually not be) and check that a bottle that seems cheaper isn’t just a smaller unit. Shops are damn sneaky.
6 – Stay away from the fridge (part deux)
When you’ve gotten your water home, don’t put it in your fridge. Why? Erm, you’ll drink it. THAT’S NOT WHAT IT’S FOR, OK. If you like refrigerated (why is there a ‘d’ in fridge but not refrigerate?)water at home, buy yourself a jug and fill it from the tap. If you want to invest in a filter, go for it, but here in the UK, tap water is absolutely freaking fine. The stuff out of my tap is actually DELISH because I live in the middle of nowhere and the water is unpolluted and born just a few miles up the road. I actually used to go and see the source of our drinking water as a really cheap school trip when I was a child.
I appreciate that it’s not that hard to buy a few reusable and refill them whenever you go out. However, experience dictates that we don’t remember, the bottle are always grimy and we end up buying more. Being frugal is as much about knowing your bad habits and making the best of them as it is cutting your budget down to its bare bones. Sure, if we needed to find an extra £2.50 a month, I’d happily forgo the bottled water, but for now, we’ll just abide by the rules outlined above.