Whether you like an occasional tipple or a have favorite go-to cocktail, there's no denying that drinking can get expensive. It may be one of the most common ways to socialize, but it can do a lot of damage to your wallet. In fact, if you've ever found yourself wondering, "How much should I spend on booze?" then you're not alone. Recently, Alcohol.org, an alcohol use disorder resource, looked at how much people spend on alcohol over the course of a year — and over the course of a lifetime. The results might just make your bank balance wince.
Now, obviously it can be tricky to work out exactly how much a given person spends — it depends on what they drink, how much, and where they drink it, not to mention how much things cost in that particular city. So to find out, Alcohol.org looked at City-Data to work out how many drinks people have per week on average in different cities — then they used CDC data on life expectancy to work out the number of drinks consumed over a lifetime. To figure out the actual cost of all those drinks, they used Expatistan data to look at the costs of drinks in different cities, assuming that people had two drinks out per week and the rest were had at home. Of course, where you drink can make a big difference. So if you're someone who drinks in expensive bars a few times a week, your spending could be much higher than the average — but if you tend to just enjoy drinks at home with dinner, it might be less.
1. Many Cities Have Six-Figure Spending Over A Lifetime
Yup, when you look at the amount people spend over a lifetime, some places get very expensive. Those living in New York, Minneapolis, and Miami all spend over $116,000 on drinks in an average lifetime. That's twice as much as someone spends in Birmingham, Alabama — which comes in at around $58,000 — and so much more than what I make. It hurts a little to see it all add up.
2. New Yorkers Spend Over Two Grand A Year On Average
When you break down the spending year by year, you see many of the same cities appear in the highest and lowest spending charts, but not exactly the same breakdown. New Yorkers were still the biggest spenders and the only city to top over two grand a year on average — while Buffalo and Richmond jumped into the top three lowest spenders in the country.
3. Small Changes Can Save You Big
One of the most fascinating things about this data was seeing how much you can save by just cutting out a few drinks here and there. "Annually, people in these cities could save anywhere from $268 to $507 just by decreasing their alcohol use by 25%. Looking at a 50% or 75% reduction, the annual savings jump to $536+ and $804+, respectively," the report explains. "Even small habit changes related to alcohol consumption can impact one’s wallet and health." Over a year, it adds up — and over a lifetime, it definitely does.
4. The Nitty Gritty
If you want to see the breakdown per city, you can find out exactly how many drinks people average per week, what different drinks cost, and how it all adds up. The average tended to fall around five drinks per week in almost every city — but the cost of a drink can vary hugely between cities (and even between drinks).
Everyone's drinking habits are unique and as long as you're happy and healthy, that's cool. But seeing it all laid out, it's clear that if you're looking to save a few pennies then cutting back may be one of the quickest ways there.
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