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.
While it can be tricky to work out exactly how much a given person spends — key factors come into play that may alter the results slightly. Of course, it also 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.
While individuals in every generation drink, it’s mainly two groups of people which may be especially at risk of drinking up their budgets: millennials and baby boomers. For one thing, both demographics drink a lot. Although millennials represent only a quarter of all adults over 21, they buy 35 percent of all the beer and 42 percent of all the wine sold in the United States, according to a Nielsen report. There are slightly more millennials than baby boomers, but more boomers than millennials are heavy wine drinkers. Boomers account for a greater total volume of wine consumption, though the gap between these two groups is not great and is closing each year, according to the Wine Market Council.
Each group has unique financial concerns and considerations and could risk their budgets by spending too much on alcohol. Millennials may be worrying about paying off student loans or saving for a first house, among other critical money issues, while boomers might be trying to live on fixed retirement incomes.
So how much is drinking actually costing you? Well, if you have three drinks a day, five days a week, at an average of $10 a pop, you’re spending $150 a week, $650 a month or $7,800 a year just on alcohol ― not including any additional costs, like server tips or taking a taxi instead of driving. Even if you drink only on weekends, at two drinks per day you are spending about $2,500 a year. Prefer wine at home? According to online wine retailer Vivino, the cost of a bottle of white wine averages $14.41, while an average bottle of red wine costs $15.66. If you drink one each per week for a year, that’s more than $1,563 per year.
Additionally, when you look at the amount people spend over a lifetime, some places get very expensive. For example, when looking at a number of American cities – 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. 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.
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.”