First, a confession – I like alcohol and I’m ticked off that it’s so expensive.
So, what’s a frugal zealot to do about it? You’re certainly not going to drink less. You simply figure out a way to enjoy your constitutional right while keeping your budget intact.
If you’re a novice to drinking on the cheap, here are 10 tips on how to save serious money on alcohol.
1. Buy boxed wine. It’s usually much cheaper than the bottled variety. I don’t have a refined enough palate to differentiate between the “good” stuff and the super cheap stuff.
The number of bottles in the container is usually noted on the box. Don’t just assume boxed wine is always the least expensive. It’s still worth your while to calculate the per bottle cost. Sometimes you’ll find wine for around $3 a bottle at Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, and Trader Joes.
Helpful Advice: Use a wine glass. Just because it comes from a box doesn’t mean you have to drink it like you live in a trailer park.
2. Carry a flask to bars, restaurants, etc. To some, such behavior is indicative of a more serious problem. I won’t say that it’s totally normal, but hey, neither is being independently wealthy. When no one’s looking, go ahead and spike your non-alcoholic beverage with the stash hidden in your purse.
I don’t wanna hear about your inexplicable bout of scruples now. You weren’t Professor Morals when you snuck those Raisinets, bottled water, and bologna sandwich into the movie theatre last week. Generously tipping your server will help you sleep at night.
Warning: You’ll likely be banned from whatever establishment you’re patronizing if you’re caught.
3. Never miss happy hour. And sever all ties with friends who do. You don’t need people like that in your life. It’s socially irresponsible to mosey into a bar just minutes after happy hour ends.
4. Use certificates from sites like Groupon and Living Social. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, you can use groupons to purchase alcohol – even during Happy Hour!
5. Make frozen margaritas at home. It’s not that hard. Pick up some $10 tequila, $8 triple sec, and have at it. Don’t grumble about the taste. The flavor will be masked by the fruit anyway.
6. Get tipsy before going out with your friends. Do this slooooooowly. This strategy is not to be combined with “t-shirt time.” You need to grease your gullet gradually.
Listen to me. If you’re not careful, an hour into what would’ve been a fantabulous night, you’ll be burning up and shoeless with your face planted in a public toilet seat pleading with Jesus to help you.
That’s not cool.
7. Don’t be picky. Look. Scotch is disgusting – no matter how old or ridiculously expensive it is. No one can honestly say they drink alcohol because it’s delicious. If we wanted delicious, we’d drink grape soda. So just stop it. Buy the cheapest version of a particular type of Chardonnay, Scotch, vodka, or cognac you can choke, shimmy, or shake down your esophagus and shut up.
Bonus Tip: If you want to feel richer while sipping that cheap alcohol, invest in some decent drinking glasses. Ikea has some pretty classy looking ones for like $2 a piece.
8. Brew it yourself. Don’t ask me to attest to the safety or legality of home brewing. Quite frankly, I’m terrified of poisoning myself or having the brew pot explode in my living room. There are startup costs involved. And if you don’t take to home brewing, you’ll end up with more garbage you don’t need and don’t want. However, I’ve heard brewing your own beer can be a delightful and rewarding experience for those who love to drink and love to save money while drinking.
9. Let someone else pick up the bill. That is if you’re okay with being either a) talked to death or b) followed around for the rest of the night by the kind soul who purchased your drink(s) for you.
10. Don’t be a diva. Dives are homey (and sometimes frightening) places to get wasted on the cheap. The most important thing to remember is good company makes for good times.
These are just a few tricks I’ve picked up over the years.
What are some of the strategies you use to save money on booze?
This post appeared in the Carnival of Personal Finance #298 – The Best Money Articles Online.