I probably drink alcohol less than once a month, if that.
I’m Asian and genetically speaking we’re more likely to have flushed faces and be less able to tolerate our alcohol*. If I drink half a beer, odds are my face will feel flush. I don’t think I’m able to finish an entire cocktail. Friends have said things like “You just have to get used to it if you want to enjoy alcohol”, but I’m just not going try.
There have been numerous benefits to the alochol-less lifestyle, the biggest benefit which is that it saves me a busload of money. Those Ubers you take because you are too drunk to drive or take the subway? The high cost of drinks in NYC or at a bar? I’m drinking water, thanks! The wine or hard liquor people drink at home? None for me!
Since starting this blog, I’ve broken down every category of spending for myself and analyzed it to see how EVERYONE could save more money. FireBear noted that I didn’t have an alcohol category and I should calculate this because a lot of people spend a lot of money on alcohol. I polled my closest friends to get average alcohol spending per year and how much earlier they could retire. FireBear (European and Caucasian) doesn’t drink either, but he will drink when there are free drinks at company events or parties.
I’ve added a spreadsheet in the freebies section so you can see how much you’d save if you cut down your alcohol consumption. I’ve filled it in with the averages of my friends, but you can customize it to your hearts desire :).
Alcohol hacking tips
1). Instead of grabbing a few beers with your friends at the bar, buy a few hipster beers for $2 at the grocery store and hang out in your backyard or apartment. I got bored and did the math on brewing your own beer. If you were to invest it into the market and account for the time you spend on it, you’d come out behind versus just investing in the market, so I didn’t include that in the spreadsheet.
2). Need a little ambiance? Buy some charcuterie for cheap at Costco and Cracker Barrel at the grocery store mixed in with some fancy cheeses. Buy some green and red grapes and slice strawberries (bonus if you dip them in microwaved chocolate!). Plate it beautifully on a wooden cheeseboard.
3). Buy a cocktail book and start making your own. It will be 90 percent cheaper, and everyone will remember you for hosting. You can get a bar cart to store your alcohol. For the amount that cocktails cost at a restaurant or bar, you’ll break even in just a few weeks even if you buy the bar cart.
4). Most people can’t tell the difference between a $10 wine and a $100 wine. There have been experiments done where people have been told the wrong price of alcohol, just to see if they would grade it higher. If you’re buying “fancy” wine, chances are it’s just as good as the cheaper wine. Your brain is just tricking you.
I’m not saying you should give up your alcohol consumption. Bonding is better with alcohol with most people and in the grand scheme of things, a few beers with your coworkers or boss will go a long way come promotion or review time. Having people like you is probably the most important thing if you want to get ahead.
Giving up alcohol entirely
If you want to give up alcohol but are worried what other people say, just do what I do.
1). I tell people “I’m allergic to alcohol”. Some will ask about it and I’ll tell them the truth, that I really am allergic and missing a gene to process alcohol. If you’re not really allergic, you can tell them the same thing and I’m sure it’ll go over fine, even if you’re not Asian. Tell them it leads to alcohol toxicity and could be deadly if they keep pressing further.
2). If it’s someone you’ll only meet once you can always say things like “I’m on antibiotics”, “I’m taking tylenol and want to be safe”, etc.
3). If the problem is that you like alcohol too much, consider doing away with it one day a week, and decreasing your intake one day at a time each week.
It’s unfortunate that we live in a society that there are negative connotations to not wanting to participate in drinking alcohol, but it is what it is. If you enjoy it, by all means, go ahead and partake, but just know there are cheaper options that can get you to early retirement and financial independence sooner. If you want to quit, well that’s fine as well. Don’t let anyone else tell you anything else.
Alcohol Assumptions (HCOL and high-paying job)
Beers at bars per week: 5
Price per Beer: $7 (oh yes, this is how much a beer costs here)
Cocktails per week: 2
Price per Cocktail: $15
Bottle of Wine: 1
Cost of Wine: $20
Running the numbers above here, you could save 3 years of working if you gave up alcohol. If you switched to cheaper alternatives like drinking at home, you’d cut 3.5 years off.
Play with the calculator below and see how many years you could save. Are you going to stay at your consumption level or switch to cheaper alternatives or give it up? Let me know in the comments below!
*I’m not saying this is for ALL Asians, I’m saying on average.
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