Happy hour, wine Wednesday, and weekend brunch are all fun and games until you realize just how much of your annual income is being spent on libations. Nowadays, online banks break out your spending into detailed categories — for instance, restaurants and bars. So let’s take a deeper look. Being a 20- to 30-something is a lot of fun. Invites to social gatherings seem to be endless, and there is always a reason to celebrate. A lot of these celebrations come in the form of cheers-ing margaritas and mojitos.
What’s tricky is deciphering how much is too much when it comes to the impacts that imbibing may have on your pocketbook. These numbers can add up very quickly, not to mention the associated costs that come with getting a little tipsy. When looking at my bank account in late June, I began to notice I wasn’t really drilling away at the last bit of wedding debt from a few months prior, and this realization did sting a bit. It stung because I knew if I removed myself from a certain extracurricular activity, I’d probably improve my financial outlook very quickly. So I did just that. I decided to take the entire month of July to be a sober Sally, and here is what happened.
1. The sheer cost of drinking
Everything’s relative, right? That said, it’s not my place to say how much is too much money to budget on alcohol per month. The cost of the average bloody mary in my town is $10, as well as a glass of vino. Whether you prefer to drink PBR and well whiskey or visit the Champagne room is your prerogative. Regardless, I recouped an average of $300 per month by simply avoiding the hooch.
2. No more rounds on me, folks
Etiquette schmetiquette. What can you do? Your pal insists on buying the first round at happy hour, and somehow this random act of kindness inadvertently signs you up for buying the second round. Now, you’ve managed to buy five cocktails for you and your buddies, when you initially planned to only have two in the first place. This little song and dance gets expensive for everyone involved, and before you know it your bar tab has bumped up over $50 on a quick little happy hour gathering.
3. Ubers? Lyfts? Taxis? Nope
Whichever mode of transportation you prefer to escort you from point A to point B after a night of drinking is yours for the choosing. But no matter which you select, they inevitably get expensive. I won’t get too deep into the cost of my most expensive Uber ride ever, but I’ll give you a hint that hopping in an Uber XL at an 8.9 spike was not cheap. Avoiding the need for a designated driver altogether saved my pocket book around $100 over the course of the month.
4. Buh-bye, drunk Amazoning
Drunk shopping is a real thing. And it will creep up when you least expect. Your inhibitions are lowered, you’re cruising through the World Wide Web, and there it is: that new pair of boots you most certainly do not need. You buy them anyway, to your surprise they actually arrive in the mail, and you love them way too much to ever send them back. The New York Times actually reported on intoxicated consumer purchases of everything from $3 sunglasses with a $17 shipping cost to a $10,000 motorcycle and a trip to New Zealand. I’ll stick to the window shopping for now.
5. Less eating out
Knowing that a glass of wine with my meal was out of the question, the urge to go out for dinner took a major back seat. Taking the time to create a beautiful dinner at home became much more appealing to both me and my wallet. The truth is dinner out with friends isn’t quite the same when everyone around you is sippin’ the giggle juice. I managed to hone in on my baking skills, become a grill master, and catch up on this show everyone kept raving about (Game of Thrones). Winning all around!
6. Debt? No thanks
That pesky debt I mentioned earlier, well, it is a thing of the past. By the end of the month and to my amazement, the last thousand dollars of wedding debt magically disappeared. OK, there wasn’t actually any magic. My hard work and dedication paid off. Minus good sex and good travel, paying off debt may be one of the best feelings there is.
7. Re-upped the savings account
We all need a cushion. Some of us need a bigger cushion than others. Valuing a solid savings account feels like very adult behavior, but when life happens it’s important to have a safety net. Paying off debt enabled me to sink extra money into savings in preparation for end-of-the-world supplies. Kidding (sort of).
8. Health is wealth
Health is wealth, am I right? The obvious benefits of not boozing for 31 days certainly worked toward the betterment of my financial position and outlook. But the true egg in my beer was feeling better than I have in my over-21-year-old life. Waking up chipper and ready to seize the day was worth all of the FOMO I felt throughout the month of July. The takeaway from it all? Sure, on Aug. 1 I enjoyed two glasses of decadent cabernet sauvignon and savored every drop. But I no longer feel the urge to attend every happy hour or weekend brunch. The benefits certainly outweighed the sacrifices, and I highly recommend the challenge.