Ways to save on alcohol
April 20, 2008, 12:21 pm
Filed under: Frugality

Alcohol can be a hard thing to fit into a budget since, despite how expensive it can be, you may not want to completely cut it out of your spending. It definitely falls under the “want” category as opposed to the “need,” but some days, whether you want to celebrate or wallow (or join in the celebrating or wallowing of others), alcohol can prove to be just the thing you’re looking for. So how can you have a good time without blowing your paycheck? Here are some suggestions I’ve come up with:

When staying in:
Look at the price per unit (usually per ounce or per liter) when buying alcohol and go for the brand and size that’s least expensive for the quality you’re looking for. A bigger bottle is usually cheaper per unit.
Split the cost and contents of a larger bottle of liquor with friends if you don’t want the whole thing, but want to cash in on the savings.
If you’re making mixed drinks, buy cheaper liquor, like Aristocrat, to mix with. You won’t be able to taste the full flavor of a top brand when it’s combined with other ingredients so save the good stuff for when you drink it straight or with minimal mixers.
-Also, when making mixed drinks, go for ingredients that you’ll use in other drinks and things. Shoot for the simple mixes (rum and coke, cranberry and vodka) so that you don’t have to buy unusual liquors and liqueurs that will only wind up sitting around unused.
-When having friends over for a party or gathering, ask them to bring some of their own drinks while you supply the mixers (or ask them to bring some finger foods so you don’t have to buy both alcohol and food).
Try brewing your own beer. Kits are available at a good number of stores these days.

When going out:
-If you have a designated driver, drink before going out so you won’t have to buy as many, if any, overpriced drinks when you get to your destination.
Set a limit for yourself before going out and only bring enough cash with you (no credit cards!) to pay for that number of drinks and to tip your bartender/waiter.
-If anyone owes you a drink or money, cash in on those favors when you go out together.
Choose beer or wine instead of a mixed drink as they are usually cheaper.
Take advantage of happy hours and drink specials. Don’t be afraid to ask your bartender or waiter if they have any deals going on that night.
Scope out the prices of drinks at local bars and frequent the ones that have the cheapest offerings. Keep in mind that the trendier bars usually have the most expensive drinks.
Go to events that typically offer free drinks, such as weddings, office parties, promotional parties, and gallery openings.
Go to wineries and or breweries for free tastings. Grocery stores (with a large wine and beer selection) and specialty wine stores occasionally have tastings as well.

A few last tips:
-Make a habit of drinking at home more often instead of going out all the time. Alcohol is always overpriced at bars, clubs, and restaurants (not to mention if you decide to order food too).
-If you are drinking just to get drunk (because, let’s face it, a good amount of us have been there before), go for whatever is cheapest, especially according to alcohol content. Why bother spending extra money on fancy drinks when you aren’t concerned about how it tastes?
You can simply choose not to drink. If you’re really strapped for cash, be honest with yourself and save your last dollars for necessities, not a hang over. 

2 Comments so far
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Or you can just drink a beer. I do this all the time when I’m on business trips. I’ll pre-load by eating a TV dinner at home before going out to eat with the group. Then, I’ll just get a beer when we go to the restaurant. I might also snack on bread or whatever freebies the waitress brings. I really liked your suggestion to pre-load the drinks, though! This is a good one!

Comment by Brooke

I guess I leaned more toward liquor than beer in this post since I don’t really drink beer and don’t have much experience buying it. Eating ahead of time and while you’re drinking is a great way to cut down on the drinks since you feel full. Thanks for the tip, Brooke!

Comment by Sarah

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