What We Save When We Give Up

Is $1,000 a month on drinks a lot of money?

Photo: Neil Moralee/Flickr

Every so often, this meditation on what one person saved and learned about themselves after giving up alcohol and caffeine for a period of time resurfaces. Every time it does, it’s worth it to take a look.

I gave up coffee and alcohol for 15 months, and it changed the way I think about well-being

Tobias von Schneider gave up both vices in 2015 for fifteen months and found that within the first two months of this experiment, he had an extra $1,000 in his bank account — a fun bonus from not drinking alcohol or coffee.

I live in New York. In order to spend $1,000 a month on alcohol, I only have to spend $33 everyday. Assume that I have two to three cocktails every other day (which are $10 each without tip), including some wine bottles every month for at home, I can easily spend $1,000.

The math is correct, but it feels like a lot of money. New York is indeed expensive, but “only” spending $33 a day on a cocktail or two out feels like a very big number indeed. Drinks out are expensive — sometimes a beer costs $8 for reasons that I will never understand — but even if you go out three nights a week, plus one Big Night on the weekend, spending $1,000 in a single month on this activity seems very high. A bottle of decent wine or a six pack, enjoyed from the privacy of one’s own home is cheap. Ordering a beer and some french fries and maybe a salad at a bar while reading a book is a little bit more.

Maybe it’s just that seeing the number written out in full is alarming; that could be said of facing any financial reality. Ripping off the Bandaid hurts, but it’s a quick smart. Looking at the number, making whatever changes you need to make, adjusting your life as it is for the life you want to have — that’s the work.

But! Let’s talk about going out. Unsurprisingly, Team Billfold was of the mind that this is a big number indeed, but given our point of view, that checks out. Even if you don’t live in New York, does $1,000 a month sound like a lot to spend going out? Is your number higher or lower?