It’s a common scene after work – a few coworkers leaving the office ask you to join them for a few drinks at a nearby bar or nightclub.
You might have a favorite place to go, or there might be a pub that’s just conveniently down the street.
However, these regular trips down to your local watering hole might be costing you more than you realize. It’s common knowledge that drinks cost more at bars than they do at grocery and liquor stores.
The alcohol markup can be as high as 400% for draft beers and a whopping 1,206% for liquor.
That’s right. Do you hear the sound of your money burning inside of your pocket? Take a look at these four ways to reduce the amount you spend on drinks each week.
Invite Friends Home
This is one of the easiest ways to avoid the hefty markup at the bar. The main compromises are that you’ll need to keep a stock of drinks at home, tidy up your place, and maybe request that your friends bring drinks to share.
Getting together at someone’s home can be even more enjoyable than a bar, especially if you introduce popular TV shows or board games into the mix.
If you’re wanting to meet new people, ask your peers to introduce their friends to the group.
Go During Happy Hour
Happy hour can be a saving grace for your pocketbook, helping you get the bar experience without being subjected to outlandish prices.
You can learn about Happy Hour times by snagging venue menus, checking Yelp, or downloading dedicated listing apps like Happy Hour Finder.
Not only will the drinks come with a dramatically reduced price, but the food prices should be lower as well – and sometimes even free!
Happy Hours tend to be during a venue’s off-hours, so you might need to do a little extra planning to line your schedule up with these special times.
However, it can pay off, allowing you and your friends to enjoy drinks and food that are normally cost prohibitive.
Check Your Spending
It can be too easy to lose track of your spending if you hit the bars on a regular basis. Other expenditures must take priority, such as food, rent, family needs, and education. I
f you feel like you’re getting out of control with your recreation spending, then you might want to try services like Mint.com to monitor your spending and set financial limits.
Mint automatically categorizes your credit card and bank account transactions, so you can quickly see how much money has been allocated to groceries, entertainment, cafes, and other venues.
These metrics can be major eye openers – you might discover that cutting down on your bar visit frequency can help you save toward other major goals.
Practice the art of saying “no” to coworkers and friends after work and on days off, or use more affordable tactics, like drinking with groups at home to reduce the costs.
Bars, nightclubs, and restaurants aren’t the only places to have fun.
The term “pre-gaming” might bring you back to your college days. It involves drinking at a more affordable establishment before going out to an event where drink prices are exorbitant.
Major sports games at popular stadiums often ramp up the cost of food and drink, and you might be in danger of spending $12 on a single beer.
Some movie theatres use the same tactic, and people will often pay the high prices for the convenience of having a drink during a movie.
If you plan to “pre-game it,” just make sure that you have safe transportation to and from the event you’re going to afterward, in order to stay out of trouble.
Encourage your group to call a cab or take public transit – this will prevent you from driving – the riskiest behavior associated with drinking,
Responsible spending in drinking culture requires some careful planning. You don’t want to blow too much of your hard-earned funds on getting drinks with friends.
House parties, happy hours, and pre-gaming are some ways you can enjoy a night out without breaking the bank.
But whatever you do, drink responsibly. As the second infographic below indicates, circumstances in 2020-2021 have led to a large increase in consumption of liquor.
That is not be a good trend. There is an alternative, though, without abandoning all socializing: The Mocktail, non-alcoholic cocktails.
Originally published 2/25/14; updated 11/1/21 to remove unavailable link and add the mocktail infographic.
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