Before the last time stressed out stockbrokers jumped out of windows, I worked as a manager at a retail store that sold overpriced junk in the front off the store that people had to pass to buy their legal drugs. At the time, my drug of choice was Monster Energy Drinks. Two of them will give you about the same effect as cocaine, but with a bubble gum aftertaste. Nonetheless, I used to drink a lot of Monster. Then I calculated it one day. At $2.29 a pop and 22 days a month, I was paying $54.91 every month after tax. This is money that I could have better used elsewhere. At the time I was increasing my contributions by one percent every year in my 401K because I had read about that strategy in the Millionaire Next Door, but this one expense was more than one percent of my $44,000 salary.
I decided to cut it out and started buying Diet Mountain Dew instead. This probably cut the expense in half, but it’s not the point The root of the problem was that I was looking to get my needs and wants to be satisfied by something else. The solution to the problem is to stand back and logically think of the problem you are trying to solve by buying the Monster or Mountain Dew. Maybe this is not Mountain Dew for you. Maybe you buy coffee at 5 bucks every day or like to order your food from a robot under golden arches. Why do you want the fast food or the wastebasket sized Mountain Dew from the Kwikie mart anyway?
This problem called a natural monopoly, and I heard Naval Ravikant talk about it on some podcast I can’t remember. According to Investopedia, a natural monopoly occurs because of a high cost that is a barrier to entry. For example, it would be fairly difficult to make my own energy drink using powdered caffeine, taurine, and carbonated water, bubble gum and bull urine**. It’s also not a good idea to mix drugs like this Ina a bathtub unless you have the chemistry skill-set of Walter White, so it appears easier to buy mountains of Monsters than to make it yourself.
Another common economics term that I learned in high school is substitute. This is self explanatory, but let’s say you go to the store to buy French’s mustard but notice that the store brand is a buck cheaper. The store brand would be a substitute. I used Diet Mountain Dew as a substitute for Monster, but what did I really want? I wanted drugs. Maybe I wanted these drugs because I have undiagnosed ADHD or maybe I just didn’t get enough sleep. It doesn’t matter. The point is I needed my caffeine fix.
I now have substituted Diet Mountain Dew for tea. Tea contains caffeine, which is what I really wanted. Tea is easy to make, which I really like, but tea has other benefits too. Tea has anti-oxidants so they say it can help prevent cancer unlike those cancer-causing French fires. It’s also easy to find a microwave nearby wherever you work, just heat up some water and dip your tea bag in the water for 15 seconds. I like to have several cups of tea thought the day so I use the same teabag about three times steeping for 15, 30, and 60 seconds. Apparently, this is the way you are supposed to make tea at least that’s what Tim Ferris says in the 4 Hour Chef.
I have even made Kombucha tea,, but I’m on hiatus because I once used a cone coffee filter and my batch got infested with fruit flies and I haven’t been able to get back into it since. You can make kombucha tea with simple sugar, tea and about an ounce of Kombucha from a store. More importantly, you can get a month worth of caffeine at work for between 2 and three dollars expending on how fancy you like your tea. I splurge on tea sometimes, but it still costs way less than one percent of my annual income.
You can also make your own coffee at work using the Aeropress, but it costs thirty bucks and is a lot more messy. I got one as a gift one year, and it makes excellent coffee, but I don’t use it as often as I thought I would because it takes more time than the standard coffee maker.
**Energy drinks do not contain bull urine, but it’s a common urban myth.
Thanks for reading
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