Philadelphia’s Soda Tax Is a Smashing Success — Here’s Why It Matters

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A new tax on sugary beverages has reaped bigger rewards than expected. Here are three lessons from the experiment that might help you build better money habits.

Philadelphia’s new tax on sweetened beverages raked in $5.7 million in revenue last month, more than double what had been projected.

The totals are a boon for the city’s coffers, but the experiment also offers a few unexpected insights into building wealth and achieving success. Here are three:

1. The right incentives can change your behavior

Philly’s soda tax triggered a huge decline in local beverage sales, which have plunged by up to 50 percent, according to a CBS MoneyWatch report.

Health experts for years had urged consumers to stop drinking sugary beverages. These professionals promised that such a change would improve health and slim down waistlines. Yet, people went right on guzzling their Cokes and Red Bulls.

However, once their “bottom line” was at risk, these same consumers quickly changed their ways. Apparently, they just needed the right reason to shift their behavior.

If you find it difficult to save, perhaps you just need the right incentive – like the idea of getting rich. For a little inspiration, read:

2. Turning negatives into positives results in success

Philadelphia instituted a tax of 1.5 cents per ounce on sweetened and diet beverages. The city is using the extra revenue generated from people’s bad habits to pay for something good: increased funding for nearly 2,000 prekindergarten slots.

Turning a negative into a positive is a hallmark of success. We all have bad habits to overcome if we want to achieve our goals. As pointed out in “7 Ways to Build Willpower That Creates Success“:

Habits begin with conscious choices. Train yourself by exercising self-restraint repeatedly until it’s not a choice, but a habit.

Over time, you can break the chains of your bad behaviors. Perhaps in a few months, you’ll be putting that loose change in the piggy bank instead of spending it on ice cream or cigarettes.

3. Any worthwhile goal involves sacrifice

America’s obesity rate is alarming. More than one-third of adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All that extra weight is a major source of health problems and illness, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer.

Lowering the nation’s intake of sugary beverages should provide a major boost to efforts to curb obesity rates. But achieving that good aim comes at a price.

Supermarkets and beverage distributors already have announced projected layoffs and cutbacks as a result of the decline in beverage sales. While the nation at large will benefit from more-healthful food choices, some people will pay for those gains with their jobs.

It’s a bittersweet reminder that it’s tough — and probably impossible — to achieve anything worthwhile without sacrifice. Giving up the satisfaction of a sugary soda is another small but necessary sacrifice if you want to lose weight and improve your health.

As we point out in “14 Things We Can Learn From a Little-Known Billionaire,” reaching a great goal — from building a successful business to retiring early — is never easy. But it’s always worth it:

It takes work (maybe at more than one job), dedication and, yes, maybe some sacrifice. But reaching your goal will be that much more satisfying because you did it yourself.

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned on the road to success? Share them by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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