How Much is Your Drinking Costing You?

Never mind the psychological, emotional, health, time, family, and other indirect costs of drinking alcohol on a regular basis (like alcohol rehabilitation). I’m most interested in the pure money cost of having this regular habit.

Here’s a quick rundown of my analysis:

Average Drink Costs

To get a working case study going, I needed to first figure out the average cost of whatever we were going to be drinking.

  • Beer: $7 per 6-pack, or roughly $1.16 per bottle
  • Wine: $15 per bottle, or about $3.75 per glass
  • Hard Liquors: $30/bottle, or about $1.75 per shot
  • Specialty Drinks: $10 (varies hugely based on location)

Yearly Cost

Having figured out the individual cost for drinks, let’s take a look at the yearly cost of a few probable scenarios:

  • Nightly Red Wine: A lot of people enjoy an inexpensive bottle of wine with each dinner. This comes out to a little over $900 per year. (At least this expense has supposed health benefits…)
  • Weekend Beers: 52 weekends a year at one six-pack per weekend, and 4-6 holidays a year with extra cases round up to about $500 every year. About the same if you drink one beer a day with dinner.
  • Party Animal: Going out once a week and ordering two expensive drinks can really add up, to the tune of $1,040 a year. Make that three times a week with three drinks a pop and we’re talking $4,680 a year.
  • Shot of Vodka: My grandparents’ favorite, this is actually a competitive option, at about $640 per year. (There are also some supposed digestive benefits).

Do Your Own Math

It’s fairly easy to calculate your own yearly alcohol rate—just take the cost of your favorite beverage, figure out how often you like to partake in the experience, and average it out to a yearly basis.

And if you’re really brave…share your results in the comments.🙂

Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography

12 thoughts on “How Much is Your Drinking Costing You?

  1. I’ve never thought of us as heavy drinkers but since we dropped wine and beer off the regular grocery list and now buy it only for special occasions, we’ve seen a significant savings. For the most part, I don’t really miss it that much, but boy, that strawberry daiquiri sure looks tempting!

    1. I’m a sucker for good wine and “fruit” drinks. Who cares if they’re girly–they’re fregin’ awesome.

  2. Hi Wojo,

    I came over from your post on Financial Samurai. I’ve seen the math on drinking before, and I have to say that they are pretty stunning numbers if you take them in context of an annual fee. But lots of stuff is like that. Things like eating out, coffee, knicknacks and especially electronics can probably add up to much more than annual alcohol tabs. Having said that, I keep a spreadsheet of my expenditures and at the tail end of 2010, I’ve spent close to $10,000 on alcohol this year.

    About 30-40% of this is from our annual trips to wine country where we buy presents for family for the entire year in one fell swoop. Even so, we try and take advantage of happy hours and discounted drinks as much as possible, but the total amount shows that we really enjoy our booze. However, even with this seemingly insane alcohol tab, more than 60% of our after-tax money goes to savings.

    Seeing a 5 digit bar tab should make me feel bad… but I’d rather live the way I want to live (and still be socking away a lot of money!)

    1. That’s a pretty amazing savings rate. If you can sock away that much, I completely agree–live how you want!🙂

  3. Wine is it for me. I used to have a $25 limit for wine (with exceptions now and then), but when my wife and I got together one of her first policy measures was lowering that limit to $15. Not much harm done. There is plenty of good wine out there at that price point. I am just happy that she has not touched my chocolate limit. As I wrote in a recent blog post, we, no, I buy only good chocolate or none at all:

    1. Awesome! I have a few vices myself, including bread (I’ll only buy freshly baked) and produce (try to stick with farmer’s markets for the best-tasting stuff).

  4. We don’t drink almost at all. Sometimes we get a bottle of Moldavian white wine (4 bucks) from the hyper-market and share. That’s all. We seldomly go out and then we just drink coffee. It does save a lot of money, that’s for sure.

    1. From my conversations over the last few days, it seems like everyone has a vice or two. For some, drinking is simply not it!

  5. Hey Wojo, I used to be in the “party animal” category for a good many years (and for me your numbers are probably on the low side for me🙂 )….but now my drinking expenses are much more manageable. I can’t say that the cost was what slowed me, but I graduated past that lifestyle when I became a family man🙂. Now I’m at a much more reasonable level….

    1. Yup…the focus for a lot of young people is simply having enough money after paying bills to be able to go out most days. Savings isn’t even in the vocabulary… I know because a few of my friends think exactly this way.

  6. I would be afraid to calculate how much I spend yearly on drinks! Afraid. I usually go out once or twice a week and spend 30 to 50 so bucks per night…not counting home purchases. OUCH

    1. Ouch indeed, but not unusual from what I’m hearing! I guess it depends a lot on where you live, too. Drinks down here are in the $6-$8 range.

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