To those that know me it's a well-known fact that I am quite partial to the “energy drink” Belief. So much so that I've been steadily consuming it for the past couple of years on an almost daily basis. Part of that has to do with my possibly unfounded belief (rim shot) that it is far better for me than a drink like Red Bull or anything of that ilk. Of course, it would have been far better to not even drink Belief, but let's carry on.
Near the end of February last year I decided to really lean in to my habit and start noting down my purchases. I thought that if I am to ever be determined enough to kick this habit, then I'm much more likely to do so if I have some numbers to fall back on.
I took my last sip of Belief (see addendum) on the 29th of December, 2020, which leaves the experiment, barring any setbacks, at 306 days starting from the 28th of February, 2020. During that time I wrote down the date, time, and location of the purchase of every bottle; also the chosen flavor, price, and whether it was discounted or not. What follows is a mishmash of facts based on those data points.
When I started writing this blog post in January I had imagined that I wrangle the data all sorts of interesting ways myself, but picking this thing up again much later, now in the middle of May, I'm much more inclined to leverage the wonderful Datasette project along with the even more wonderful Glitch. The former will take care of handling all of the data and the latter will make things easily shareable and re-editable, but seeing as just linking to the Glitch instance would make this post terribly short I'll go over some of the key findings.
Most of my purchases were made from a single location, a gas station near where I live. While it's not exactly on my commute as I have to make a conscious effort to go that route, it's close enough to my commute that more often than not I opted to pop by and succumb to my addiction in ever increasing amounts.
What's interesting is that despite there being a clear place, the second most visited location, where I could have gotten a better deal, I still went to that gas station instead. Why? I'm not a 100% privy to my psyche, but I think it has to do with a compounding of the following factors:
- it was closer to my home;
- out of the 171 purchases made there (the image conflates two additional locations into that 216 you see), 163 were made whilst the drink was discounted, which seemed to be pretty much permanent;
- in my mind if I had opted to buy in bulk from the aforementioned second most visited place then that would have in one way or another made me much more cognizant of my inability to not kick this habit;
- it was a routine that had developed and not going a little out of my way to buy from there would have been an aberration.
It's interesting to note that the 163 individual bottles purchased from that gas station at a discounted price of 1.50€ cost me 244.5€, whereas if I had bought them directly from the source, the second most visited place, then the price of each bottle would have been 1.15€ at the most, thus saving me 57.05€. Something to consider the next time I really want to lean in on a habit again…
Aside from just summing everything up I'm curious to know that had I not put my 512€ and 87 cents into something as obviously detrimental (though it sure as heck tasted delightful!), and had instead increased my position in the Vanguard S&P 500 UCITS ETF, then how much would I have actually potentially earned?
When I started noting down my purchases the price of a single share closed at 50.45€ and when I stopped the price of a single share closed at 57.89€, which means that the stock appreciated at around 14.7% over that period of time. Given that my bank does not support buying fractional shares then that means I could have bought exactly 10 shares (504.5€). It's hard for me to know how much the transaction fees would have been exactly, but looking at my past purchases it seems to be roughly 3%; an additional 15.135€, or an out-of-pocket cost of 6.765€.
Given all that though, the 14.7% appreciation would have meant that the bulk of the money I spent on a habit/addiction would have earned me 67€, and would keep earning me money in the future. Who would have known that investing is more likely to pay off than just spending money!
There are probably other insights that could be gleaned from this, but I want to not have this post hang over my head any longer, so I'll just leave you, the reader who surely exists, with a link to the Glitch instance where the data and necessary Datasette plugins are hosted for fiddling around: https://few-yielding-passionfruit.glitch.me/data/belief
(The apt randomly generated sub-domain is not lost on me…)
I mentioned that my last sip was on the 29th of December, 2020, but that is not entirely accurate. That was my last official sip within the confines of the so called “project”. I have since then bought the drink again on a rare occasion just to see how I would react. I'm pleased to report that I no longer have any strong feelings toward it. The taste is no longer entirely sweet and wonderful, but instead the taste of the added caffeine is so overpowering that I can't even begin to imagine going down that road ever again.
So, what if I started weaning myself off of coffee the same way?