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Alcohol and Health

How Much Money Do You Spend On Alcohol?

December 22, 2023
17 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
December 22, 2023
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
December 22, 2023
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
December 22, 2023
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Reframe Content Team
December 22, 2023
17 min read

You keep telling yourself the same thing: you really need to save more money. You have bills stacking up and outstanding debt that needs to be paid. But when the weekend arrives, it’s the same routine: you meet your friends at a local bar, end up drinking way more than you intended, and by the time Sunday evening rolls around, your bank account is lower, your head is pounding, and your motivation is at an all-time low. You justify it by telling yourself you had fun — but at what cost? 

In this post, we’ll explore the hidden expenses of alcohol and reveal how reducing our alcohol consumption can enhance not just our financial health, but our physical health too. Let’s get started!

Money and Alcohol: The Hidden Expenses of Alcohol

When we think about the cost of alcohol, we typically think about the price of drinks at a bar or the bill from the liquor store. But what about the hidden expenses that often go unnoticed? Let’s take a closer look at some of the hidden expenses associated with alcohol: 

  • Transportation costs. Consider the expenses related to having a night out. For instance, we might take a taxi, rideshare service, or public transportation to a bar or party. All these transportation costs accumulate over time and can become a significant portion of our monthly budget.
  • Food expenses. Alcohol often goes hand in hand with eating and snacking (drunchies, anyone?). For instance, we might make a late-night fast food run or stop at a convenient store for snacks. Plus, when we’ve had a few drinks, our inhibitions may decrease, making us more likely to buy expensive or unhealthy meals.
  • Impulsive purchases. Since alcohol impairs our judgment, it’s easier for us to engage in impulsive spending. For instance, we might buy drinks for friends, splurge on unnecessary items, or make spontaneous online purchases. These impulse buys and unplanned expenses can be particularly problematic if they become a recurring habit.
  • Missed workdays. Excessive alcohol consumption can result in hangovers and subsequent missed workdays. When we’re feeling hungover, we may struggle to perform our job efficiently or skip out on work altogether. Frequent absenteeism can lead to reduced income and jeopardized job stability.
  • Accidents and legal issues. Unfortunately, alcohol-related accidents and legal problems are not uncommon. These can range from DUI tickets to accidents resulting from impaired judgment. We may then find ourselves having to pay legal fees, fines, and increased insurance costs — not to mention medical bills.
  • Healthcare costs. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can take a toll on our physical and mental health. Treating alcohol-related health conditions, such as liver disease, heart problems, or mental health issues, are not cheap. Plus, these expenses can cause added stress and anxiety, impacting our well-being.

The bottom line? We may be spending a whole lot more money on alcohol than we realize. 

In other words, while that beer or wine might seem harmless at first, the long-term costs can be substantial.

Health and Wealth: The Double Benefit of Reducing Alcohol

Given all the hidden expenses of alcohol, it stands to reason that if we cut back on our drinking, we’re likely to save more money. And with more money in our pockets, we can redirect our expenses towards something more meaningful, like a dream vacation, paying off debts, or building an emergency fund.

For instance, if we have outstanding debts, such as credit card balances, loans, or mortgages, cutting back on alcohol can allow us to direct the money we would have spent on alcohol toward paying down our debt. Similarly, with the extra funds at our disposal, we can also consider long-term investments, such as retirement accounts or even saving for a child’s education. 

But don’t just take our word for it! Research has shown that individuals who reduced their alcohol consumption significantly decreased their overall spending. One study noted that the savings they accumulated over time allowed them to make significant improvements to their financial situations. 

It’s not just our wallets that will benefit from cutting back on alcohol, our health will, too. Did you know that alcohol is associated with seven different types of cancer? Drinking affects nearly every aspect of our health, from our mood and sleep patterns to our digestive system and heart health. When we reduce our alcohol consumption, both our mind and body will reap the benefits. 

Alcohol and Money Management: Steps to Reduce Alcohol Spending

Okay, so now that we’re aware of the hidden costs and potential for financial and health benefits, let’s take a look at some ways we can reduce our alcohol spending. Here are four tips: 

1. Set a Budget

Establishing a monthly budget for alcohol consumption is a crucial first step in taking control of our spending. Start by reviewing your current alcohol-related expenses. Take a close look at your receipts, bank statements, or credit card records to understand your current spending habits.

Based on your financial situation and goals, set a reasonable monthly budget for alcohol. Be sure to consider both the cost of alcoholic beverages and the additional expenses associated with drinking, such as transportation and dining out. 

Once your budget is in place, diligently track your alcohol-related expenditures throughout the month. This will help you stay accountable and make adjustments as needed.

2. Explore Non-Alcoholic Alternatives

One of the biggest misconceptions about reducing alcohol consumption is that it prevents us from socializing. But, this doesn’t have to be the case! We can still enjoy gatherings with friends while opting for healthier, alcohol-free alternatives, such as mocktails or alcohol-free beers. In fact, many bars and restaurants now offer a variety of mocktails and non-alcoholic beer options that mimic the flavors of traditional alcoholic beverages without the alcohol content. 

We can also get creative in our own kitchen by making homemade non-alcoholic drinks with fresh fruits, herbs, and sparkling water. Another tip to reduce alcohol consumption is to alternate alcoholic drinks with water to reduce our drinking. This helps us save money and stay hydrated, so it’s a win-win!  

3. Plan Sober Activities

Try diversifying your social life by planning activities that don't revolve around alcohol. For instance, maybe we organize outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or picnicking in the park. These outings encourage physical activity and provide opportunities for bonding with friends and family.

Or maybe we host a game night with friends and engage in some friendly competition. We can also consider trying knitting classes, pottery workshops, or group painting sessions as a way to connect with others. Plus, these activities offer a chance to explore new talents and interests.

Volunteering is another great sober activity that can be incredibly rewarding. In fact, giving back is associated with improvements in mood, health, and overall well-being.

4. Seek Support

If we’re finding it challenging to reduce our alcohol consumption on our own, we can always turn to others for help. And contrary to what some people believe, seeking support is actually a sign of strength. 

Consider joining a local or online support group dedicated to helping individuals reduce or quit drinking. These groups provide a sense of community, shared experiences, and valuable advice. We might also benefit from reaching out to a mental health professional or therapist, who can offer personalized strategies and support to help us cut back on drinking. 

Finally, don’t forget to confide in trusted friends and family members about your goals to cut back on alcohol. Their encouragement and understanding can be a powerful source of motivation.

How Much Do I Spend on Alcohol? Try Our Alcohol Spending Calculator

If you need a little more incentive to cut back on drinking, consider using our alcohol spending calculator to check how much you are spending on alcohol. It is designed to help you understand and calculate how much you are spending on drinks — per week, month, and year. This can then help us set goals to effectively change our drinking habits, whether that means cutting back on consumption or eliminating alcohol entirely.

You just might be surprised to learn how much you’re spending on alcohol! Sometimes seeing the number for ourselves can encourage us to make the change we know we’ve needed to make.

Beyond Personal Finance: Tips for Reducing Alcohol Consumption

Cutting back on alcohol is not easy. It can be a journey full of ups and downs, trials and errors. But it is possible! Here are four practical tips for reducing your alcohol consumption: 

  • Track your consumption. Keep a journal of your drinking habits to identify patterns and gain insight into your relationship with alcohol. Pay attention to specific situations, emotions, or stressors that trigger you to drink. Recognizing these triggers is the first step in addressing them.
  • Set clear goals. Start small with modest goals that align with your current habits. For instance, if you typically have a glass of wine every evening, aim to reduce it to every other evening. Then you can make adjustments over time. For instance, maybe you only have one glass of wine each week.
  • Find alternative coping mechanisms. Many of us turn to alcohol to cope with stress, anxiety, or boredom. To reduce our consumption, we need to find alternative coping mechanisms. Consider activities such as exercise, meditation, or pursuing a new hobby. Whether it's learning a musical instrument, cooking, or gardening, find activities that you enjoy.
  • Seek support. We weren’t meant to journey through life alone. Choose at least one person to confide in and share with them your goal of reducing your alcohol consumption. Or consider partnering with a trusted friend who shares similar goals. Holding each other accountable and providing mutual support can make a world of difference.

Remember that cutting back on alcohol is a process that takes time and intention. But it’s well worth the effort — not just for our finances, but for our overall health and well-being.

The Bottom Line

We often don’t think about how much money we’re spending on drinking. But, apart from the obvious cost of buying drinks, there are many hidden expenses of alcohol, including transportation costs, food expenses, impulsive purchases, and healthcare costs. By reducing our drinking, we’ll not only be able to save money and spend it on more meaningful endeavors, but we’ll also experience improved mental and physical health. It may take time and intention, but we — and our wallets — will be better for it!

If you want to cut back on drinking, but don’t know where or how to start, consider trying Reframe. We’re a science-backed app that has helped millions of people reduce their alcohol consumption and enhance their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Summary FAQs

1. What are the hidden expenses associated with alcohol consumption?

Hidden expenses include transportation costs, food expenses, impulsive purchases, missed workdays, accidents, legal issues, and healthcare costs. These often-unnoticed costs can significantly impact your finances.

2. How can reducing alcohol consumption help your finances? 

By cutting back on alcohol, you can save more money, which can be redirected towards meaningful goals like paying off debts, building an emergency fund, or investing for the future. Research shows that reduced alcohol consumption leads to decreased overall spending.

3. How can cutting back on alcohol enhance our health? 

Cutting back on alcohol is good not just for your wallet, but your health, too. Drinking affects nearly every aspect of our health, from our mood and sleep patterns to our digestive system and heart health. When we reduce our alcohol consumption, both our mind and body will reap the benefits. 

4. What are some practical tips for reducing alcohol spending?

Practical tips for reducing alcohol spending include setting a budget, exploring non-alcoholic alternatives when socializing, planning sober activities, and seeking support from friends. 

5. What are some practical tips for cutting back on alcohol? 

Cutting back on alcohol is a process. You can start by keeping a journal of your drinking habits to identify patterns and triggers; setting clear goals and limits; finding healthier coping mechanisms like exercise or meditation; and seeking the support of friends, family, or a mental health professional

Are You Ready to Save Money on Alcohol With Reframe?

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today! 

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