Abstract: You can save a LOT of money by drinking at home.
When I turned 21 (legal age to drink in the states) and started enjoying the nightlife and all the other aspects of being a "full-fledged adult" (e.g., cocktails, scratcher lottery tickets, and not having an enforced bedtime) I was unprepared to manage my financial situation. Not that I was in the best financial situation as a twenty-one-year-old, but it wasn’t the worst and I was surely better off than when I was eighteen or nineteen. I was also paying an incredibly reduced amount of rent, seeing as how I was living with what seemed, looking back at it, to be twenty other roommates. I also had a fairly decent paying job in the restaurant industry that allowed me to work four days a week and have an ample amount of money to pay my overhead costs. On top of that, I would still have money to have the fun that I wanted to have. Similarly to many newly twenty-one-year-olds, this took the form of going out with friends to bars and clubs. I will not divulge specifically how often this was but, again, in hindsight, it was unnecessary. Needless to say, it was catastrophic to my bank account.
Conservatively, I would likely go out two to three times a week and have anywhere from 4 to 5 drinks. If that is the case, then I was consuming anywhere from 8 to 15 drinks per week. Over the course of a month that would put me in a range of 32 to 60. Over the course of a year, if this pace was maintained, I would be looking at consuming anywhere from 384 to 720. For me now, these numbers seem shockingly high and perhaps slightly concerning. Now if we put a price on these cocktails and other alcoholic beverages is where it gets really outrageous. I never really took the time to think about how much I was really spending on going out and having drinks. Nor did I really ever consider an alternative strategy. Now that I am a couple of years older it seems that there is an obvious alternative that is immensely more cost-effective.
During this period of my life, I was living in Southern California, where the alcoholic beverages are on the pricier side. I do not know this for certain but I assume that the price of a Manhattan is not the same in California as it is in South Dakota. Because of this, I will calculate the costs of alcoholic beverages based on the three different average price points of $5, $7.50, and $10.
Starting at the $5 price point if you were to consume just 8 drinks per week you would be spending $40 a week, $160 a month, and $1,920 per year. If you find yourself on the higher side and are consuming 15 alcoholic drinks per week you would end up spending $75 a week, $300 every month, and $3,600 every year. Below is a chart that lays out all three price points in perhaps a clearer format.
If drinks were 7.50 and you consumed 8 drinks per week you would be spending $60 a week, $240 a month, and $2,880 every month. If you found your self drinking 15 drinks per week it would be $112.50 a week, $450 every month, and $5,400 every year.
Now using what feels like the most realistic number based on the places that I have personally lived, if drinks are $10 and you went out and had 8 drinks per week you would be spending $80 every week, $320 every month, and $3,840 every year. Now to get into the scariest of numbers. If you went out and allowed yourself to enjoy 15 drinks a week you would be spending $150 every week, $600 every month, and $7,200 every year.
… oh, and that doesn’t include tip…
Personally, those are some big and scary numbers.
Now, I will be the first to say that consuming craft cocktails or craft beer with loved ones and close friends is an enjoyable aspect of life. Apparently, it is also an expensive one too.
I am not advocating that you remove this aspect from your lives. After all, I work for a company that distributes cocktail glassware and bar tools & supplies. And they are the ones keeping the lights on at home. What I want to suggest though is a more cost-effective way to unwind after a long day's work with your favorite cocktails and alcoholic beverages.
The Alternative to going out and drinking is to buy some liquor that is at least considered to be mid-tier and pick up some bar tools and make the decision to… DRINK AT HOME
Let’s consider a hypothetical: if you go out two times a week having just three drinks and are able to average $5 a drink (YAY for happy hours) did this for a full year, you would, again, spend $1920 a year.
Now let’s consider how much alcohol could be purchased at a liquor store, grocery store, or wherever spirits can be purchased in your state. Seeing as we have used the lowest price point for going out and drinking, we will use what I perceive as an equally low price point.
That is, I will pull from Bevmo’s website based out of Arizona. If we just base this on Bulleit Bourbon (750 ML) which is priced at $21.99. Arizona’s sales tax is 5.6% making the total after tax $23.22. Meaning that if you decide to take the $1,920 that would have been spent on going out and having drinks and instead decide to spend it all at Bevmo on this bottle of Bulleit Bourbon or something of equivalent you could purchase 82.687 bottles. For convenience's sake, let’s just call it 83.
In order to consume all 83 bottles over the course of a year, you would need to consume 22.7% of a bottle every day. Which would be ~5.675oz of alcohol every day. This may not sound like a lot; however, to consume this every day for a year would be taxing to personal health. Now granted, I am not a health expert, but I think doing this every day would not be wise because IT IS A LOT OF ALCOHOL.
What if we decided to drink as much at home as we did when we went out. So the 3 drinks 2 times a week out at a bar versus if we drank 3 drinks 2 times a week at home. We have already established that it will cost ~$40 a week if you were able to average $5 a drink. If you were to drink at home and each of your drinks that you made yourself were 2oz you would be drinking 6oz 3 times a week or 18oz a week. If you can pick up a 750ml bottle for $23.22 and you divide that by the number of ounces in the bottle (25.36oz) it would cost you $.92 an ounce. So it would cost you $16.56 a week for all of your drinks for the week. Over the course of a year if you decided to drink at home you would spend $861.12. Meaning that if you decided to do this you would save $1,058.88 per year. We can also deduct the investment that you made on your shiny new bar tools (shameless plug) and estimate that at being ~$58. This can vary drastically depending on the brands you decide to go with. We will do a guide on building your full home bar in the near future so be on the watch out for that. Nonetheless, with this investment of bar tools, bar supplies, and other knick-knacks your savings on the year are right at $1,000.88.
This savings only gets more drastic as your average price for each drink goes up or if you are averaging more than 8 drinks per week. If you're in an area that drinks were average $7.50 and you were still drinking 8 drinks per week but instead decided to take up our alternative method and purchase a bottle for $23.22 to drink at home, your yearly savings would be $2,018.88.
In the words of Daft Punk "One More Time"
If drinks are the unfortunately high price of $10 and you were consuming 8 drinks a week but instead decided to pick up our wonderful bottle of Bulliet Bourbon (or something price and quality equivalent -- for example, Bombay) you would be saving $2,978.88.
Needless to say, THAT IS A LOT OF MONEY.
We could also run these numbers a few more times based on if we were consuming 15 drinks but I fear that I will bore you a little too much than I might have already. Nonetheless, that is a huge markup to have the same drink just in a different venue. At least for me, I’ve realized that it is equally, if not more, enjoyable to have cocktails with my significant other, friends, or family in the comfort of my home than to be out at a local bar. Granted, it is not necessary to throw out the idea of going for drinks with colleagues or visiting a craft cocktail bar entirely, but the regularity that we can do it without consciously considering it is what we should try and battle.
In conclusion: do yourself and your bank account a favor, pick up some bar tools, grab your favorite spirit, and DRINK AT HOME.