Top 5 Things to Drink When You’re Broke That Aren’t Water

You can usually tell how much money is in my bank account based on the beverages of choice in my fridge. Not all of us can be refrigerator raiders and have milk all the time.  In these parts, V8 Fusion is a delicacy and orange juice is bougie. The next time you’re pinching pennies and want to account for your daily value of carbohydrates through liquid form, try one of these delicious drinks.

Top 5 Things to Drink When You’re Broke

1. Kool-Aid

Kool-Aid is so gay

What is there to say about Kool-Aid that hasn’t already been said? With colors perpetrating as flavors like Pink Swimmingo and hood classics like Black Cherry, how could you not pick up a few 35 cent packets? But what’s the deal with Kool-Aid Bursts? They don’t taste like regular Kool-Aid. This confused me as a child and upsets me as an adult. Also, if you haven’t pretended to be the Kool-Aid man at least once, you’re just not living.

2. Lipton Ice Tea

You can grab a box of the family size packets for around 3 bucks. I may offset any money I save on this one because I’m a little heavy-handed on the sugar. All tea should be sweet tea as far as I’m concerned.

3. Drink

Sugar, water, and of course, purple

Not to be confused with drank. Drinking Drink actually makes you broker. You can tell it’s working because it burns when it goes down. If you’re lucky enough to shop where Drink is sold, grab a whooole gallon for 99 cents. The best way to choose Drink is by color, not flavor. I recommend Apple Drink. It’s green.

4. Arizona cans

The great thing about Arizona is they put the price right on the can so they’re 99 cents everywhere. If anyone ever tries to sell you one for more than that, I’m pretty sure you can sue. Go stand in the refrigerated section of the gas station and peruse the wide variety of options the good people of Arizona have provided. Take solace that no matter which one you pick, it will be so cold and come out of the can in such an awkward fashion that you have to drink it at a reasonable rate of speed to prevent your front two teeth from freezing and possibly falling right out of your mouth. This definitely happens all the time.

5. Off-brand pop

Recently I’ve been trying to drink pop less but it’s SO HARD when it costs 99 cents for a 2 liter. I’m one of those people that will buy a 2 liter even when I only need of a single serving. I don’t care if it’s warm. I don’t care if I there isn’t a cup handy. I can’t bring myself to pay $1.69 for a cold 20 oz. when there’s a perfectly good bootleg brand staring me in the face. Of course I want my mouth to taste like a maze on a mountain.

Maybe one day I’ll have a stocked fridge that will get me many women. Until then, what other cheap drinks would you suggest?

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Brittani Nichols is a Los Angeles based comedy person. When she's not tweeting about white people or watching television, she's probably eating pizza. Actually, she's probably doing all three of those things concurrently and when she's not doing THAT, she's sleeping. Brittani also went to Yale and feels weird about mentioning it but wants you to know.

Brittani has written 328 articles for us.


  1. Off-brand pop is the best! You can’t get brand-name pineapple or mango soda for less than a kidney here, and Redpop (Faygo’s almost off-brand, right?) is deliciously red.

      • Wait…are you girls from Detroit or can you get Faygo elsewhere?? I thought Faygo was the one good thing Detroit had left!

        • I live in NW Ohio and you can buy Faygo here. The stores also had Faygo when I lived near Dayton, and when I lived in SE Ohio in college. So Faygo is definitely sold in Ohio as well.

        • I’ve seen people drinking Faygo in Maryland. It’s native to Detroit but it’s sold around the world.

          Honestly, I can’t stand most flavors of Faygo. My preferred Detroit band of pop is Vernor’s Ginger Ale, which actually is difficult to find in other parts of the country. :(

          • VERNOR’S IS THE BEST DRINK. Other ginger ales just do not taste like that. And for the record, I’ve found it in Austin, Texas and in San Francisco, so it does get around.

    • michigan pop is the best! not to mention that it’s called pop. it drives me crazy that people at school call it soda

  2. I get huge boxes of imported green teabags for cheap from the health food store and brew my own big batches of iced tea. Tie 8 or 10 bags together, put em in a glass pitcher or bowl and pour boiling water over ’em. After steeping for 10 minutes, dumb a tray of ice cubes in and refrigerate for an hour. I add honey as needed when it’s served, or take it to school with me in a thermos. The box will usually last me 6 months to a year, and as a bonus there’s no added corn syrup BS!

    I stopped drinking all that cheap sugary crap long ago, because my dentist bills made me more broke than I was already. :X

    • Absolutely my favourite thing ever about the USA: instructions on how to make tea. (also, iced green tea: interestingly whacky. In the good way though.)

    • I make a big stainless-steel water bottle of iced green tea every night to take with me to work the next day. Seriously that shit is AWESOME. I usually flavor it with a spicy orange or a mint tea bag for funsies.

  3. I don’t know which one of these reminds me of childhood more (or which tastes better): the color/flavor Kool-Aid or the color/flavor Drink.

  4. one dollar can, one dollar can of iced tea.
    gas price go up, gas price go down,
    one dollar can, one dollar all of the time.
    milk price fluctuate all of the time,
    one dollar can all of the time.
    Vibe out.

  5. The “drink” option made me lol for real! It’s so true, although I prefer red ;) Arizona tea by the gallon is relatively cheap as well. Unfortunately I am on of those Diet Coke addicts who will order from the McD’s dollar menu and then spend abuck and a half on my soda fix! At least it’s not Starbucks ;)

    • Oh yeah, love me some red. I know orange is a fruit and all, but there comes a time when a drink is labelled orange more for its color than its flavor.

  6. My mom would always buy the orange “drink” and all I remember it doing is burning my stomach. When I eventually got old enough for underage drinking, my friends and I would mix it with vodka because we were too poor to go buy boone’s farm.

    Also this: “All tea should be sweet tea as far as I’m concerned.” Are you from the south? Because that’s the only way I take my tea.

    • Nope. I’m from Chicago. And I load sugar into everything. Tea, grits, rice, coffee on the rare occasion I drink it. It’s bad.


    Do not purchase Invisible Kool Aid!

    I know, I know, it’s invisible and so cool! It’s like that green pizza sauce they used to put in Lunchables, what could possibly go wrong? Well, let me tell you, straddlers, without the rich, natural Kool Aid colors as a barometer of drink strength, it’s nearly impossible to tell what you’re getting. You may be doomed to a weak, watery drink or a thick, crystalline brine without even knowing it. Be wary, friends. Don’t let this invisible menace strike you off guard!

    • I have a dreadful memory of taking a huge swig of what I thought was water but turned out to be – WATERMELON KOOL AID OF THE INVISIBLE VARIETY.

      Never forget. Never.

      • You know how in the wild, animals are brightly colored to warn predators that they’re poisonous?

        So why you gotta mess with nature, kool-aid? You were brightly colored FOR A REASON

    • Like that Green and Purple Ketchup Heinz used to make for kids…Or was that a Canadian thing? (We do like our Ketchup)

      • Nah, it wasn’t that, although I do know what you’re talking about.

        There were some lunchables in the early 2000s that came with a powder you could shake on your food to turn it green. I’m only 98% sure these actually existed and weren’t the product of a childhood fever dream so if anyone can back me up? Googling “magic green powder in lunchables” doesn’t turn up productive results — and now I’m probably on some government watch list…

  8. I used to work at a camp for kids with learning disabilities and they gave the kids red drink. I learned very fast that red dye makes ADHD children go off their rocker. That night is the reason whenever any kid is going crazy we refer to it as “code red drink” Damn you red drink… damn you

  9. It’s all the about Arizona Tea’s Arnold Palmer! So damn good and I’m convinced it’ll help my golf game!

  10. I’m probably kool aid red on the inside. One of my favorite special flavors is ice blue lemonade our something. The best. Ever.

  11. Tampico, anyone? 1.99 a gallon!

    Mango tampico + vodka = dorm deal cocktail of the day (jk, always)

  12. When I read the title I thought it was going to be all about alcohol, and got probably way too enthused. Calm down, self. (Says the college senior with a fridge full of PBR & Franzia, with cheap plastic handles of questionable tequila & gin in the freezer.)

    • Haha me too. I was gonna offer up my meticulous calculations of the cheapest way to get wasted. (2L casks of sherry $5.99)

  13. Gas station slurpees in a kids cup for 69 cents. The kids cup is still about a liter of slurpee so its not like they’re skimping. Or you could be fancy and buy the 32 oz one for 79 cents. You do you.

  14. This article was incredibly lovely and practical. Too bad no one near me sells the now infamous “drink” – at first when I saw that brand name I got really confused.

    And, sidenote! Some of the concoctions featured here are cheaper than water. =/

    • where I live: Beer is cheaper than water!:D
      so no,I am not getting wasted on purpose.I AM SAVING MONEY!

  15. Re: sweet tea– I’ve been living in the North for a while now, and I still forget and order tea only to take a sip and make that “the fuck is this?!” grimace, because I expect it to be basically a third sugar.

    • I had just the opposite problem when I moved down here to Texas from Maine. The first time I ordered tea I made the same face from the overwhelming sweetness. I’m happy to report that I have adjusted nicely though.

  16. also, pro tip for when you’re broke and want to buy semi-healthy drinks: get the frozen cans of OJ and apple juice concentrate at the grocery store instead of the stuff in cartons or jugs. You can often find generic store-brand ones that are a lot cheaper than the Tropicana stuff, plus they store easily in your freezer.

    • Tang! Yes, I drank tons of that shit when I was a kid.
      I think this is/was a New England thing but I also loved a syrup called Zarex; grape,orange,cherry flavors that you added to water. Came in a glass bottle with a zebra on the label.

  17. We go through so much ice blue raspberry lemonade Kool-Aid around here it’s silly. And Faygo, and Capri Sun. I feel I feel broke, but my thirst is quenched.

  18. $0.50 pina Jarritos.
    I swear it’s like having a liquid jellybean.
    Gas station halfway between my old school and my friends’ homes after dance club, every time I went.

    Of course, if you open it up when in a smaller room everyone in it will smell jellybean within a minute. And if you happen to be hanging with a bunch bboys, and you all just walked a couple miles after practice and are eating spicier sauced chicken your soda will not last long. Because liquid jellybean is irresistible, especially when everyone is thirsty.

  19. i was going to link to the guy who claims to seduce girls with his beverage stocked fridge but you did the work for me.
    it seems like no one has clicked on that link tho (by the comments at least) and they are definitely missing out.
    that dude is ridiculous.

    • “dropping their vagina panties all over the place”

      I also love his enthusiasm for the chrome bin. This guy is hilarious.

    • I kind of really want him to try to sleep with my mom so I can eat his freeze pops and drink his kool aid and play with his ps3. his house is like a kid paradise.

    • yes! mr chi city is hilarious

      he came out of retirement not too long ago with an unfortunate clip where someone had hit his parked car and then stolen his sound system for good measure

      wasn’t as funny

  20. If you have a 7-11 nearby, the Big Gulps are pretty cheap and you can add fancy things to them like vanilla, lemon or cherry flavors. If you save the cups, you can refill them!

    I live by Arizona Iced Tea when I’m broke, though. I also stock up on other kinds of tea – the hot kind – when I’m not broke, which gives me lots of options when I have no money.

  21. blue drink every time i go to the gas station. i mean it’s 45 cents, and it tastes like snoball juice with no ice.

  22. As much as I hate Wallgreens, they have fake coke which tastes sort of metallic but is nevertheless yummy. Also, Crystal Lite is very good. I don’t care what anybody says.

  23. can you do a “top 5 things to eat when you’re broke that aren’t ramen”? that would be incredibly helpful to my life.

  24. Peace Tea!!! Its similar to Arizona tea(its still 99 cents). But ten times better!! The only problem is they aren’t popular so its hard to find. Just check every gas station you go to. The most common place I see it at is Shell. Im not a big tea person, but trust me ITS AWESOME :D

  25. if you get kombucha or water kefir, all you have to do is mix water and sugar (or water+tea+sugar) and wait a bit and you have pop! which is also full of good bacteria… you can brew liters + liters of this stuff for really cheap, and can even make it organic and still have it be cheaper than the liquid death drinks listed above… please, try this at home kids!

Comments are closed.