How much money can you save by not drinking?
This week’s guest blog discusses the financial consequences of giving up alcohol. How much money can you save by not drinking? More than you might think, when you begin to realise it’s not just the grog you’re spending money on.
When we talk about the benefits of easing back on alcohol intake, we usually focus on the positives for our bodily and mental health. But one often-overlooked benefit that very quickly becomes apparent to newly moderate drinkers is the amount of money that stays put in their wallets when they say ‘No’ to the booze.
There are two ways that it stays there: the obvious way, from not spending money on the stuff, and the less direct ways, like not having to spend on other things because you’re not drinking. Let’s take a look at these in turn.
As we get older we tell ourselves that we deserve a better standard of wine, that the good old goon-bag from our student days is beneath us, and that the sophistication of slurping a premier cru somehow atones for the fact that we are now drinking well over the recommended weekly limit of 14 standard drinks. For middle-aged men like me, with entrenched drinking habits and an unshakeable belief that they can detect and appreciate the difference between a $20 and a $40 bottle of shiraz, giving up the grog for a month or two can add some serious dollars back into household revenue.
Consider a couple who are regular wine drinkers, with perhaps the odd beer thrown in. They’re set in their ways, and let’s say they share a bottle of wine most weeknights, plus a bit more over the weekends. That leaves them drinking their way through 8 bottles per week between them. They’re a bit choosy about what they drink, but not obsessed, so we’ll assume they average out at $20 per bottle. That comes to $160 each week, or $8,320 in a year. That gets a nudge upwards from peak-season holiday drinking, and the odd bottle of spirits or case of beer, so it would be easy for this couple to pass the $10,000 per year threshold. Changing the amount they drink can be the equivalent of a significant pay rise.
And that’s just for drinking done at home. If you’ve bought a round of drinks in a bar recently, you’ll know how quickly that can empty out the wallet – especially when exotic cocktails are involved. You’re in for a pleasant surprise when you dine at a restaurant sans alcohol, because, if you are like me, you’ve had your share of restaurant meals where the booze made up more than half of the bill. It’s an irritation because you know that, unlike the food, which was slaved over by skilled practitioners in the kitchen, the restaurateur did nothing other than buy and store the wine to justify a markup of three or four times what you could buy it for at Dan the Man’s.
But it is simplistic to talk about only the direct costs of purchasing alcohol when considering the savings that accrue when you give it up for a while (or even if you just dial down the consumption a little). There are considerable indirect savings to be had, too. Consider the latest curse of our internet age: drunk shopping.
You can see how it works: you’re sitting alone at night with an open bottle and an iPad for company, flicking idly through Amazon when you are hit by the sudden realisation that your wardrobe really only lacks a Noel Coward-style bottle green quilted smoking jacket for it to be complete. A few taps on the keyboard and the deed is done – with sanity and buyer’s remorse catching up only the next morning, when it’s too late.
According to a US survey earlier this year, 79% of alcohol users have made at least one alcohol-fuelled purchase online, with the average yearly spend an eye-watering $444 in a year!
There’s a long list of additional secondary costs that are reduced or entirely avoided when you wind down the booze:
- Taxis and Ubers aren’t cheap, but they’re necessary if you’re tying a couple on when you’re out (unless you want to risk the late-night train home, of course). When you’re off the grog you become your very own, full-time, designated driver.
- Things just get messier when you’re drinking. Whether it’s spilling food and drink, falling over in the street, or even ‘launching the leopard’ after a few too many, your clothes are on the frontline for the consequences. Sure, they can be dry cleaned, but that ain’t cheap!
- And supposing you do make a goose of yourself: flowers (for apologies).
- We all know that alcohol is a leading contributor to relationship failure, and that divorce settlements have the capacity to utterly ruin you, financially.
- Midnight snacks to stave off pre-jentacular (look it up, like I had to) hunger pangs. You can be scoffing a pizza at 1:00am, or you can be sleeping like an angel and saving the money (as well as preserving your waistline).
- Self-help for the morning after: Beroccas, paracetamols, and a stomach-soothing fry-up in the morning.
Then there’s the unquantifiable, but still very real, effect of alcohol on your general levels of energy and productivity. Economists would tell us there’s an opportunity cost to getting pissed – it diverts you from doing more productive things, and the effects can linger. If you’ve ever given up the booze for a sustained period, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Your mornings are no longer spent with a woolly head and a desire to take it easy. Instead, you’ve got an unaccustomed level of energy and focus, and over the long term that’s a major component of financial success, greater productivity, more promotions, bigger bonuses, etc.
So the bottom line is pretty clear. You’ll notice a lot of differences when you deliberately change your relationship with alcohol – most of these changes are positive, and a small number are neutral or even negative. But one immediate, unmistakable and completely quantifiable effect will be on your personal finances.
How to create your list
What is stopping you from living life right now?Recently we caught up with Seb Terry, who travels the world helping people tick off their 100 Things list. He is the ultimate guru when it comes to creating your list and choosing to live a more fulfilling life. Even if people do have a bucket list, not many things on it get ticked off, as day-to-day life tends to get in the way. These reasons and excuses may sound familiar: Money – “But I don’t have enough; I can’t afford it!” Failure – “I won’t be able to do it; what if I don’t win?” Commitments – “I am too busy at work; I already do too much; I have kids and a dog and a partner!” Opinions – “What would people think?” Comfort – “I have control over my life at the moment, if I change anything everything will fall out of place.” Success – “What if I really love it? What if I’m good at it and don’t want to go back to my old job?” Fear – “I don’t know if I am ready/brave enough.”
Give yourself permission
Sebastian Terry says we choose to do something or to not do something and in the middle sits one word; permission.The first step in deciding to write or start ticking off the things on your list is to give yourself permission. You’re the only one with the power to allow yourself to think about what you really want to achieve in your life.
ChooseWhen we’re young we know what we want; we would be able to sit down and write an endless list with no concerns about how to make it happen or whether it’s realistic or not. But we get older and we’re told what to do and how to think by other people. Things are laid out for us by others. By living your own truth you are choosing to empower yourself.
GrowIn order to grow, we have to step out of our comfort zone. Creating and ticking off your list allows you to shape your identity, or redefine your purpose on this earth and revisit your values that may have been shadowed or buried in a pile of work and responsibilities.
AskYou will never know an answer until you ask and most of the time, you have nothing to lose by asking. Asking if someone wants to join you in your quest, asking for the time off work, asking if someone needs a house sitter in the Canadian Rockies, asking if anyone has a workshop you could rent to start your craft. Passion inspires passion. People generally want to help other people achieve their goals.
Start writingWhat is something you care about so much that you don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks? Write it down. You just need to know why you don’t need to know how just yet, the how will come. It’s the idea of manifestation = action, know what you want, put it out there by thinking about it, talking about it and looking into it. Before you know it, that dream will start taking shape.
Want to be a part of Hello Sunday Morning’s Experiments Challenge? Join us by ticking something off your list, sharing on social media and tagging #hellosundaymorning #experimentschallenge
How to love what you do
Freud isn’t the only one who believes that the ability to love and work is connected to a more meaningful and satisfying life. Steve Jobs stood in front of the 2005 Stanford graduating class and said, “the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” There are countless self help books, videos, blogs and lectures by many philosophers and social scientists on this topic. So why is it still such popular and sought-after advice? Because living a meaningful life can involve risk and a sense of the unknown, which can be scary as hell. Making a living doing what you love can pose challenges like giving up your existing job and perhaps financial stability, and sacrificing things on the way to getting to where you really want to be.
“Love and work are the corner stones to our humanness”
Don’t settle for being unhappy
“If one wanted to crush and destroy a man entirely, to mete out to him the most terrible punishment, all one would have to do would be to make him do work that was completely and utterly devoid of usefulness and meaning,” Fyodor Dostoyevsky in The House of the Dead.Scott Dinsmore, founder of Live Your Legend, a site that inspires and prepares people to build careers they love has an insightful TED talk on how to find work you love. He raises one of the most important points of finding a satisfying job and living a more fulfilling life: surrounding yourself with people who inspire you. “If the people you’re surrounded by don’t like their work, that’s going to bring you down,” Dinsmore says. “It’ll limit your creativity and infect your ideas. If you surround yourself with people who are truly living differently, it changes your belief about what’s possible.”
Dinsmore’s advice on how to find fulfilling work, in a nutshell
- Utilise your talents to the fullest potential
- Don’t just do something because society says you should
- Try things
- Don’t listen to others
- Don’t be a Jack of all trades, master of none; spend more time getting better at something as this will make what you do more fulfilling.
Show me the moneyPhilosopher Roman Krznaric outlines the five keys to making a career meaningful:
- Earning money
- Achieving status
- Making a difference
- Following our passions, and
- Using our talents.
“The lack of any clear positive relationship between rising income and rising happiness has become one of the most powerful findings in the modern social sciences. Once our income reaches an amount that covers our basic needs, further increases add little, if anything, to our levels of life satisfaction,” says Roman Krznaric.
Find meaningResearch has shown that having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resilience, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression. The desire to find a job that gives our lives a sense of meaning and purpose and reflects our values, passions and personality is said to be a new age idea. To quote, again, Roman Krznaric, “We have entered a new age of fulfilment, in which the great dream is to trade up from money to meaning.” The East has been way ahead of us on this one. Dharma is a Sanskrit word that in some Hindu traditions essentially translates to “sacred duty.” The word dharma comes from the ancient religions of India and is found in Hindu and Jain teachings as well as Buddhist. Its original meaning is something like “natural law.” Its root word, dham, means “to uphold” or “to support.” In this broad sense, common to many religious traditions, dharma is that which upholds the natural order of the universe.
It’s bigger than youMartin E. P. Seligman, one of the leading psychological scientists alive today, claims that in a meaningful life, “you use your highest strengths and talents to belong to and serve something you believe is larger than the self.” The pursuit of meaning is what makes human beings uniquely human.
The importance of effective goal setting
With Christmas celebrations under our (slightly looser) belt and the anticipation of New Year’s Eve just around the corner, it’s long been a popular tradition to reflect on the year that’s passed and create resolutions for the year ahead. Research has shown that about half of all adults make New Year’s resolutions, however, fewer than 10 per cent actually manage to keep them for more than a few months.
ABC Health’s Top 10 resolutions of last year were:
- Stay fit and healthy
- Lose weight
- Enjoy life to the fullest
- Spend less, save more
- Spend more time with family and friends
- Get organised
- Will not make any resolutions
- Learn something new/new hobby
- Travel more
- Read more
Old habits die hard – the importance of effective goal-setting
How many of us have strictly stuck to a resolution for a whole year? For those of you who keep seeing the same patterns over and over, the following scenario may sound familiar. Say you want to lose 7kgs by the end of the year. You sign up to a gym membership and start off going steady for the first few weeks or months, then you take a weekend trip away, and the next weekend is too busy to find time to work out. Next minute you find yourself out of the habit. This leads to resentment of oneself for not succeeding in reaching your weight loss goal, and a feeling of guilt that can cause us to create even worse habits. If we think larger than ourselves, we find that external factors can also play a part in distracting us from a goal, like opposing interests and values of a social circle.
The idea of a new year’s resolution was claimed to have been created by the ancient Babylonians some 4,000 years ago, but unlike the contemporary West, their year began in mid-March when the crops were planted. The babylonians made promises to the pagan gods and, if kept, it was understood that the gods would bestow favour on them for the coming year. If the promises were to be broken, they would no longer be in the god’s favour.
The early Christians are also said to have their own history of making resolutions. For them, the first day of the new year was time to meditate on one’s past mistakes, resolving to do and be better in the future. In fact, in 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on the eve of the new year, which involved a service of singing and celebrating this time of renewal.
Why it’s important to make goals or resolutions
In their article on ‘Common Goal Setting’ Lifehacker identifies that, “one of the biggest benefits of creating goals is that they force us to focus our time, attention, and energy on a specific objective, instead of scattering our focus and our resources among the broad range of possibilities dying for our attention.” Creating goals and resolutions can be very motivating and progressive: for careers; financials; family; health; and, on an individual level, they can help us on our journey of personal growth.
However, we have to be careful when making resolutions or setting goals as they can often turn out to be a double-edged sword when people tend to align performance with self worth. We have to make sure we don’t strive to reach an idealised version of ourselves or keep changing our definitions of success so that true satisfaction is unobtainable. In Adam Philip’s book, Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life, he says “We are always haunted by the myth of our potential, of what we might have it in ourselves to be or do.”
In a Womankind article by Madeleine Dore called ‘How Do you Measure Your Life?’, the author identifies that the obsession with our potential is prevalent in highly developed societies where our physiological and safety needs are met. The theory goes that the lower levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are met, therefore leaving us to focus on higher goals such as self-actualisation.
Dore says most of our daily activities or goals are exotelic, meaning we reap the benefits somewhere in the future, rather than enjoying them for their own sake in the present. “We need to learn to look away from external expectations or pressures, what we think we should be doing and find the experiences that possess inherent enjoyment for ourselves.” She shares the insight that goals that are borrowed from others or internalised from societal expectations about what we should be doing are not soul-fulfilling goals. In our culture, an individual or organisation cannot be considered successful unless goals are achieved. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says, “the problem arises when people are so fixated on what they want to achieve that they cease to derive pleasure from the present.”
Many people compare themselves with other people’s lives and achievements, but often it’s not even other people’s accomplishments that can make one feel like they’re lacking in some area of their lives. It is, in fact, their own expectations.
So, how do we actually create an effective goal or resolution?
There’s an overwhelming amount of goal setting advice out there, with the popular tips focusing on:
- Not being too specific. For example, “I want to lose 8kg by the second month of the year.” Instead, try to set yourself something more achievable like, “I want to run three times a week and only eat fast food once a week.” Then the specifics may be a byproduct of the resolution or goal.
- Quality vs. quantity. Setting too many goals can throw you off the challenge and cloud your motivation. However, setting a few relevant goals for the year can help you stay clear and focused on the intention.
- Don’t have unrealistic expectations, but find the balance. “If your goal isn’t scary and exciting at the same time, your goal is too small.”
- Start big and narrow the focus. Think long term, think about the deeper meaning of why you want to achieve the goal, and start to filter out the crap. Come back to a single or a few intentions that resonate with you at this present time to enrich your life.
- Making public goals can sometimes be more powerful than private goals, as they come with a sense of accountability and others can get behind you for extra support.
When we get down to the core, our goals should all be about learning and growth.
For the more nerdy of us, research in a wide variety of field and laboratory settings has shown that H.A.R.D goals have the greatest impact on performance (Ragnar, 2014). H.A.R.D (heartfelt, animated, required and difficult) goals act to focus attention, mobilise effort, and increase persistence at a task (Ragnar, 2014). Incorporating H.A.R.D goals will help create a growth mindset, rather than the previously fixed mindset of, “I have finished the task and I am done, that was too easy.”
S. M. A. R. T goals are also an effective way to set a goal. as they keep you accountable. It is realistic, it has a deadline, you have to make sure it is attainable and within your abilities, and you must have a way to measure your success (or lack thereof). Coupling S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound) goals with a Reach goal can help make your goals more effective. A Reach goal is an ultimate end goal that moves you. It need not have a deadline or even be terribly specific, but it must motivate you and make you really want to reach the end.
Make your goals work for you
Whatever goals you choose, it’s vital that you have some kind of emotional connection that makes you hungry to achieve them. There are some techniques that help your goals come to you like manifestation and the law of attraction (manifesting the goal or the outcome), visualisation (creating a vision board), and being aware of and in tune with the synchronicity around you. These can all help tie your emotional consciousness into the end result.
The most important thing to get out of the resolution/goal setting process is to learn from and enjoy the experience. Madeleine Dore says, “We cannot control how respected, accomplished and desired we become. All we can do is enjoy the experience- the process- and resist letting our expectations define us, or our potential overshadow of how we live now.”
Saving is hard. Try starting a booze bank
Have you ever considered starting a booze-bank?#hellosundaymorningPosted by Hello Sunday Morning on Saturday, June 4, 2016
Something new is on the horizon for Hello Sunday Morning. As of last Sunday, we’re rolling out a weekly series of helpful and inspirational content based on the top challenges from the Hello Sunday Morning mobile app. By looking into anonymised user data, we have found that participation in certain Hello Sunday Morning challenges positively correlates with changing one’s drinking behaviours. Thinking of our mission to change the world’s relationship with alcohol, we decided to latch onto this insight and release a series of short weekly videos to further explore these challenges for as many people as possible, and support you on your journey.
The first challenge we’ve considered is the booze-bank.
Saving money with a booze bank
This involves setting aside all the money you would otherwise have spent on alcohol at any one time. How exactly you go about it is up to you. You may want to stick to waters during after-work drinks, or you may only have one drink instead of four, and save the difference. It depends on your goals.
With Australians spending $14.1 billion on alcohol each year, we’re sure many may find it a compelling argument to claim back their part of that total.
Have you been thinking of taking an art class, or finally investing in a gym membership? Maybe you have been pining for a holiday or are considering buying a new bike? Is there something in your life that could use a little more attention from your wallet?
A booze-bank might be your solution. Dream as big or as small as you like.
Of course, we’re not saying it will be a breeze; challenge is definitely the right word. But just wait till you start seeing those tenners stacking up!
Some Hello Sunday Morning members who have tackled this challenge managed to save hundreds of dollars a week by cutting back, and often looked forward to the process. Many of us don’t realise how much we spend on alcohol in the first place – the amount you spend, and therefore save, may surprise you. What’s more, with the growth of alcohol tax around the world, drinking is not getting any cheaper.
Here’s to your wealth!