Around 64 percent of American adults drink alcohol, and on average Americans use about 1 percent of their total spending income on alcoholic drinks – a number most likely much higher for the 20-something crowd with their lower salaries and greater time spent at local bars. Just five drinks a week at $8 a drink, for example, adds up to more than $160 a month – money that could be much better spent on auto loans, student debt, or property investments.
Debt and Drinking: An Unwise Mix
While even entry level jobs can offer some discretionary income, recent college graduates already have a plethora of long-term costs to deal with: Heading out each weekend to tap overpriced drinks at the bar puts weight on precarious finances. Student debt, for example, has been on the rise in the past decade, growing by 77 percent in volume, and the rates of delinquent payments have also increased. These days, students have between $30,000 and $35,000 in loan debt on average to pay off when they graduate.
With this kind of financial weight, even the discretionary expenses that recent graduates choose can have an important impact on their monthly finances. A few drinks a week can make it that much easier to skip a loan payment or two – which leads to a wrecked credit score, legal fines, and potential bankruptcy. If graduates lose those entry-level jobs in this turbulent job market, the pressure grows even more intense.
Cutting the Bar Costs: 4 Strategies to Save Drinking Money
Of course, 20-somethings don’t have to give up drinking altogether. But there are wiser ways to spend money on alcohol and at bars that do not have to break fragile budgets. Young workers can cut their drink expenses by:
Going For the Can or Bottle: Buying a six-pack at the store and taking it back for a house party can help cut costs at multiple levels.
Dodging the Cocktails: Cocktails add fat-bringing, unnecessary sugars and colors – and typically raise the cost of a drink by several dollars. Young bar hoppers can skip them to help save more money at the bar.
Experimenting with Home Brewing: Home brewing and stills can be fun, rewarding, and even surprisingly beautiful. After the initial investment, the hobby will be less expensive than buying other people’s drinks.
Stop Ordering Food and Drink Slower: That happy hour food adds both weight and dollar signs. Graduates can skip it and drink on-the-rocks beverages more slowly, to both save money and avoid the food cravings alcohol can bring.
Saving money if it isn’t already part of your annual budgeting plans, soon will be as it’s just a part of life. However it can be fun, if you simply realize how the saved money can go toward a vacation, a dream car, a down payment on a nice home and so on. Being prudent with your money now as a grad, can lead to many riches later when all is said and done with school.