I can remember my grandfather grousing about the price of cigarettes. He swore he would quit when it went up past 35 cents a pack.
It did, and he did.
Now I know how he felt, although my particular vice is brown and fizzy and gives me reward points. At an Anchorage supermarket I was shocked to find Diet Coke selling for $8.19 per 12-pack. Thank goodness there’s no sales tax here.
That works out to 68 cents a can. It won’t break the bank. But really? More than eight dollars for a 12-pack? For something that I can’t even get drunk off of?
Fortunately – or maybe not so fortunately – I had a frugal hack all scoped out, so I paid nowhere close to that price. Here’s how the deal shook down:
- If you buy two 12-packs of a Coke product this week you’ll get two more free, plus two free boxes of Nabisco crackers.
- I had a coupon for a free 12-pack of any Coke beverage, courtesy of those My Coke Reward points.
- I paid $8.19 for one 12-pack and got the other one with the coupon, and got two more for free (plus the crackers).
- Thus I paid $8.19 for four 12-packs, or about 17 cents per can. And dang, are those olive-oil-and-cracked-pepper Triscuits tasty. I’ve had crackers and cheese and fruit for lunch twice already.
I know I shouldn’t drink Diet Coke to excess. There are a lot of things I shouldn’t ingest (cupcakes, for example) but which add a little bit of happiness to my life. Or, in the case of soft drinks, alertness: I don’t like coffee, so during long, deadline-saturated days (and nights) it’s a cold Diet Coke that sharpens my focus.
I drink a lot of iced tea, too, but there’s something about the combination of caffeine and fizz that works on my powers of concentration.
It’s the real (expensive) thing
If I were truly frugal I wouldn’t drink it at all. I’d also make bread from scratch and sew my own clothes. But my mantra is “save where I can so I can spend where I want” – for example, in the supermarket’s soft-drink aisle.
Yet I expect I’ll be drinking less of the stuff while I’m here (she wrote hopefully). If I had to pay 68 cents per can on a regular basis – and I don’t, since I get those “free 12-pack” coupons as often as possible and wait for similar sales – I probably would cut back.
(If you want to know how to get those 12-pack coupons yourself, click on the “My Coke Rewards” link above. I’d be happier still if you allowed me to e-mail you a referral link, which gives me an extra 10 points or something.)
In Seattle those sales are usually “buy one 12-pack and get two free,” which means I get three for free. But that’s the Alaska Gouge for you. When you have to barge or fly in all the food, somebody’s got to pay the freight. (Hint: That would be us, the consumers.)
So I’ll drink a lot of water while I’m here, continue to make iced tea and try to keep the soda consumption down to one can or less per day. Some days that will work, and some days I’ll drink two or three. Moderation in all things, including moderation.
My grandfather lived into his mid-80s, and did a good morning’s work before dying one afternoon. Here’s hoping that I live at least that long, and contribute at least that much. And here’s hoping I get an ice-cold Diet Coke after finishing that final morning’s work.