Last Updated on May 31, 2021

If your favorite way to kick back and relax is by having a few drinks, you could be burning some serious holes in your pocket.

In the US, during 2019 alone, spending on alcohol reached a whopping 252.82 billion dollars 1, or an average of roughly $1,200 per person of legal drinking age. And if you’re a heavy drinker, you could be forking out much more than this long-term.

Below, we’ll cover how much money you could save by cutting back on booze, where else that money might come in handy, and some of the best ways to drink less alcohol.

How Much Does Drinking Really Cost?

man opening wallet at the bar
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

So, to start with, how much money do you save by not drinking alcohol?

Overall, the amount of cash you spend depends on if you’re a light, moderate, or heavy drinker2, and how expensive each drink is.

Let’s say you’re drinking at a bar or club, with each drink costing you an average of $5:

  • Light drinking (about three drinks per week) will cost you about $60 per month, or $780 per year.
  • Moderate drinking (up to one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men) can cost as much as $140 to $310 month, or $1,825 to $3,650 per year.
  • Heavy drinking (anything more than moderate drinking) could therefore cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars per month, and thousands to tens of thousands per year.

Even if you drink moderately at home, your costs could easily surpass $600 per year, and well beyond if you’re a heavy drinker. And imagine what this means over several decades: the amount of money can be staggering.

Then there are the other costs connected with alcohol use: from little stuff like getting the drunk “munchies,” or taking a cab home, to big stuff like getting a DUI, causing property damage, or getting injured. Then, there’s the growing trend of drunk online shopping. You might find there’s a lot of ways you save by drinking less.

Calculate It Out

An easy way to discover if you’re wasting money on alcohol is to check your bank statement over the past few weeks. Then, all you have to do is crunch the numbers.

Here are the steps to figure this out:

  1. Tally up all those bar visits and liquor store stops.
  2. Divide that sum by the number of weeks you’re counting up to find your weekly average.
  3. Multiply that average for every week of the year.

If you want to avoid having to do all the math yourself, try an alcohol spending calculator like this one for a simple way to get a ballpark estimate.

How That Drinking Money Could Boost Your Life Elsewhere

When you decide to quit spending money on alcohol and put that cash towards other things, you can reduce financial strain and enhance your quality of life.

Imagine how you could alleviate stress and boost your happiness if you put that drinking money towards:

  • A savings account
  • Investments
  • A mortgage
  • Hobbies you might be missing out on due to drinking
  • That one thing you’ve always wanted, but never felt you had enough money to splurge on

How to Reduce Your Alcohol Spending 

black and white photo of person holding a dollar bill
Photo by lucas Favre on Unsplash

When you realize how much alcohol is really costing you, you might decide it’s time to cut back on drinking and save your finances some grief.

Here are some tips to reduce or stop drinking, and save money for better things in life:

  • Don’t drink for comfort, and don’t drink by yourself.
  • Avoid going out to bars and clubs unless it’s a special occasion.
  • Replace your drinking habit with something else that makes you feel good: Meditation, weightlifting, painting, or other hobbies that may get left behind due to alcohol use.
  • Keep track of your drinking. It’s easy to let a habit spiral out of control when you don’t realize how frequently you’re doing it.
  • Find your “why” for cutting back. What is the reason you want to reduce your alcohol intake? How will your life improve?

More Support to Help You Cut Back on Alcohol

If you’ve tried to stop drinking to save money, but struggled to stay on track, it could be time to get some outside assistance.

Ria Health offers online support to help you change your relationship with alcohol, and save yourself some cash, too. It’s a flexible program, so you don’t have to quit altogether—you can cut back to a level of drinking that works for you. Best of all, the whole thing is accessible from a handy smartphone app.

Get in touch with a team member today, or learn more about how it works.


Written By:
Alicia Schultz
Minnesota-based freelancer and health advocate who aims to empower others through her work.
Reviewed By:
Content Writer/Editor
Writer specializing in targeted, informative content. Dedicated to making the abstract accessible.

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