Alcohol Consumption will cost you 3 years of early retirement

Alcohol Consumption will cost you 3 years of early retirement

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We all love getting a buzz and drinking a little, but what if it could help you retire a ton earlier? Stop drinking your money down the drain! #alcohol #financialindependence #earlyretirement #retireearly #fire #savingmoney #savings

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.

Author: Olivia

Olivia worked in finance and wants you to learn the secrets of financial independence. She believes there are so many ways to monetize your life and make money doing the things you're already doing because so many companies offer free money.

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14 thoughts on “Alcohol Consumption will cost you 3 years of early retirement

  1. I’ve often thought about this for our household. One of our favorite things to do is try out new craft beers but they can be SUPER expensive. So I’ve tried to cut back to only drinking one day a week, usually Saturday. That way I can still try a couple new beers, but I can also save some cash too. I think alcohol is something people just pay for and don’t even think about. It adds up!

    1. Hey Michelle! That’s so true! All the little things add up a ton when people don’t think about it. Once a week sounds awesome. You need to keep your happiness too :)!

  2. Whoa, this should be a wake-up call for some people. I enjoy a nice cocktail or glass of wine now and then, but I try to limit what I spend on booze when we go out. If you’re going to drink, it’s much cheaper to drink at home.

  3. Alcohol can be such a killer financially! I’ve started to try to avoid alcohol out (except on special occasions) and opt for a drink at home instead. And right now, Mr. AR and I are avoiding alcohol for the “40 Day of Frugal Lent” Challenge and it has been amazing so far. I feel better, drink more water and tea, and actually enjoy the once a week drink so much more 🙂

    1. It definitely can! All the little things that add up! Beer for $2 vs $8 at the bar? The markup is insane! I don’t think alcohol is that great for ones body either so win win 🙂

  4. Yes, I also have the “Asian flush” issue after drinking, and it’s saved me a lot of money! I probably have 10 drinks a year.

    I have a friend who once worked for a director (no one you’ve ever heard of) who made a good living shooting music videos and commercials. But he spent thousands a week on fine wine, which contributed to his going broke.

  5. I guess giving up alcohol is similar to giving up expensive lattes – what you save by not buying will help you achieve your financial goals quicker.

    I don’t suffer from Asian flush and although I don’t drink as much as I used to when I was at uni, I would still consider myself a ‘regular drinker’ – pretty much all social outings with friends (and family) will involve alcohol. That said, for many years I’ve practised not drinking ‘on a school night’ so I only drink at weekends. I do this for both financial and health/fitness reasons and it works for me.

    Although you did the maths on home brewing and it didn’t seem worth it, I did start brewing my own beer a couple of years ago and as a hobby, it’s a very satisfying one. When I have home brews in the house, it means I don’t need to include any alcohol in my grocery shopping so I do save some money there! The home brew kits I use produce 40+ bottles/kit, which works out at around 50p/70cents a bottle of beer!

    The good news is that if you share said bottles of home brew with friends/colleagues, they end up buying you kits for Christmas/birthdays, so I end up with free beer (not including the cost of my time making it all but it is a hobby) which is a big win for the finances!

    1. Oh wow, maybe I am not optimizing all the items I need. Do you have a post on what you use? 50-70 cents is definitely cheaper! And the kits are a very nice touch :).

  6. The remedy for the spending is this; only go to bars and/or restaurant bars during happy hour. I don’t order much wine at it’s the highest margin drink for the establishments. I love wine but buy it a n sale by the case.
    Draft beer during happy hour is not expensive.

  7. Haha, I also have the famed Asian flush. I also don’t really drink things like fizzy or juice (although my husband likes and buys that stuff and I’ll share a little) nor do I drink coffee and honestly I think my clean drinking is probably my biggest money saver.

    1. That’s awesome :). And yes, you’re clearly saving a ton! It’s crazy we need all these flavored things in 2018 when prior we would just drink fresh water from the stream.

      I was watching sleepy hollow and when Ichabod said “So you guys BUY water that is free?!” I realized how right he was. Good thing I just drink water too :D.

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Author: Olivia

Olivia worked in finance and wants you to learn the secrets of financial independence. She believes there are so many ways to monetize your life and make money doing the things you're already doing because so many companies offer free money.

The average savings account rate is 0.1%. The big banks have incredibly low savings accounts rates. CIT Bank offers a 1.75% savings account. You can open an account with just $100 and no monthly fees or charge . Tired of being charged fees and getting peanuts in interest at your current bank? Open a CIT Bank savings account in less than 15 minutes online.

If you have a car, Rideshare apps allow you to pick a direction you want to go twice a day, so you can get extra money going somewhere you were driving to anyway at least twice a day. Get a $300 sign-up bonus with Lyft.

One of my favorite ways ways of monetizing my life is via credit card bonuses with cards that give you cashback or rewards. Check out our review of the Chase Sapphire cards, which give you at least $500 in cash or $625 in travel credit.