Trimming the Average Budget: Alcoholic Beverages

Alcoholic Beverages – $457/year

The solution to cutting this element of your budget is easy.

Don’t drink.

For many of us, though, that’s not really a solution. I often enjoy a glass of red wine with my dinner and I like a mixed drink once in a while, particularly on social occasions. I know I’m far from alone in this type of attitude towards alcoholic beverages, too.

What’s the solution for keeping such spending under control? Let’s look at a few options.

Cutting Down Your Alcohol Budget

Don’t spend more than $10 on a bottle of wine

There are thousands of different options for wines under $10. You don’t need the $50 bottle of wine in order to enjoy a nice glass of red with dinner. Pick up a low cost bottle and give it a swing.

Keep track of the low cost ones you do enjoy

This way, you can share these good low-cost wines when guests come over instead of feeling compelled to drop cash on a more expensive bottle that has some “promise” of being good (but really doesn’t have any such promise at all).

Have social events at home

Instead of going out for drinks and paying a hefty surcharge to sit in some loud, miserable place, have events at your own home. Have people bring a bottle of something they like and do something together, like play a board game or watch a film.

Look for specials

Alcohol is actually one of the most common loss leaders that stores use to get people in the door. Keep an eye on the prices local stores have in their flyer for your particular beverage of choice and stock up when it’s cheap.

Drop the brand snobbishness

Most of the times, brands are nothing more than the product of a lot of clever marketing – and you pay for that marketing with a higher sticker price. Nowhere is that more true than with alcoholic beverages, when you often pay substantially more for just a name on a label. If you doubt it, combine the idea with a social event at your home and have a blind taste test, for fun. You’ll likely be surprised.

Don’t drink at the restaurant

If you’ve decided to go out and eat, great! Have fun! However, you’re almost always far better off if you don’t consume alcoholic beverages at the restaurant, because they’re often exorbitantly overpriced. Instead, limit yourself to just a glass of wine with dinner, if that, and then enjoy a drink elsewhere with your dining companions.

Make your own

I make my own beer and find it to be cheaper to brew craft beers than to buy them. The savings is even stronger with wine, provided you find a reasonably-priced supplier. Make your own – it doesn’t take much equipment and it’s surprisingly fun to have others try your home brew.

And never drink and drive

DUI’s have reverberating affects on your life (including a huge fine, which will undoubtedly hurt your finances).

I want your help! In the comments, please let me know which of the tips you find most useful for trimming these costs. I’ll include the top choices in a comprehensive budget trimming guide at the conclusion of the series.

Trent Hamm

Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.