Keep Your Wallet From a Hangover

pabst pbr painted mural
(Guest Post by Paula Pant, while J$ is in Cali)

It’s no secret that our dear friend J. Money loves beer — he ranks it among hip-hop, his mohawk and his insanely high credit score as his favorite things in life. (Oh yeah, and I guess he also loves his family, blah blah blah.) Others (I won’t name names) are bigger fans of the “hard stuff” — rum, vodka, Everclear. Personally, my unsophisticated palate has led me to a love for wine.

But in case you haven’t noticed, these age 21-and-up beverages (age 19 if you’re from dear ol’ Canada!) can cost you big bucks. If you work for particularly unappealing wages, one top-shelf drink at the bar can cost an hour’s pay. So how do you save money when Friday night comes a-knockin’? Here’s a handful of tips to keep your wallet from suffering a hangover.

1) The Pre-Game

Otherwise known as “drinking before drinking,” pre-gaming is the act of drinking at home BEFORE you go out to the bars. Knocking back a few beers at home will cost you … um, let’s see, $36 divided by a 24-pack is $1.50 a beer. And you don’t even have to tip. When you head out, you can still enjoy the “ambiance” — while nursing just one drink from the bar instead of four.

2) The Limited Appearances

This is an obvious tactic: Go out Friday, stay home with a book on Saturday. ‘Nuff said.

3) Buy what you like, not what you’re supposed to like.

We’re taught that Grey Goose is premium and Smirnoff’s is cheap. But a blind taste test conducted by the New York Times found that when people didn’t know what they were drinking, they preferred the cheap stuff.

Of course, your taste buds aren’t the aggregate of a survey. So blind taste-test yourself. Have a friend pour several beer samples for you, without telling you the brand. Who knows? You might prefer the cheap stuff. Better yet, ask a friend to offer you 3 drinks: 2 of which are the same, and 1 of which is different. Test yourself to see if you can actually detect the difference.

4) Blasé about booze?

If you’re like a lot of people, what you really love about going out is the company of friends — not the booze coursing through your liver. (Or is it your kidneys? I can never keep them straight.) If this is the case, you can save hundreds a year by: realizing that! And acting on it!

This is the part where the average advice-giver would tell you to call your friends and suggest that instead of going out, you should all stay home, order pizza and play a game of Yahtzee. The trouble is, your friends will quickly turn that round of Yahtzee into a drinking game.

Let me assure you that it’s easier to change your own behavior than it is to change the behavior of others. If you’re a social butterfly who is blasé about booze, then keep hitting the town with your friends — just start sipping water instead of vodka. No one will notice.

5) Figure out J. Money’s method.

Mr. J. Money says he loves beer, but a blog post he wrote revealed his beer budget at $15 a month, prompting one reader to ask if he’s drinking PBR. He replied that the post was written in 2008. So I went to Turns out $15 in 2008 dollars is $15.42 today. If he’s not drinking PBR, what’s his secret?

I poked around a little further, and found a post he wrote in 2009 that put his beer budget at $58 per month. This means his budget rose 386 percent year-over-year. And that was two years ago. Since it’s now 2011, I must conclude that his monthly beer budget is now $864 per month. (This represents a 386 percent increase over his presumed 2010 beer budget of $224). Hmmm. On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t follow his lead.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Haha… I am a sneaky beer drinker, aren’t I? ;)

Guest post from Paula Pant, that awesome blogger at, who teaches you to live richly + savor life. If you like this post, check out her site or follow her on Twitter: @AffordAnything.

(Awesome pic by DieselDemon)

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  1. Kevin @ April 29, 2011 at 9:03 AM

    I don’t drink and my money-savvy friends are jealous because they know I’ve saved many thousands of dollars over the years.

  2. Investing Newbie April 29, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    I love the calculations! LOL.

    I love a good party, but I just restrict partying to Thursdays. Every other night I try to keep it low key or catch up on some much needed sleep.

  3. CityFlips April 29, 2011 at 9:26 AM

    I’m all for the pre-game!

  4. B. Myself April 29, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    Hey J, I have tried all of these methods. Drinking can can definitely be expensive. What I find myself doing is keeping my consumption down to once per week. This has worked pretty well. I also tend to limit it to a couple of drinks at lunch with a friend or while playing video games at my place. All in all, it keeps my beverage cost down and money in my pocket.

  5. MacroCheese April 29, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    Pre-game! Pre-game! Pre-game!

    Or have a baby. This will take care of it too.

  6. Ryan April 29, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    “21-and-up beverages” – Says who? ;)

  7. Jon | Free Money Wisdom April 29, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    Haha, this post is epic! Although I was never a big drinker, i did like to have some beer once in a while during college. I remember buying flats of Coors Light tall boys and splitting the cost with each other. We even bartered the poor store owner down a couple bucks promising him more business in the future lol. At the end of the day, drinking is not cost effective or a good use of your money, but I’m some on here disagree with that!

  8. Paula @ April 29, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    WAHOO! Glad to see such a great response!

    @Investing Newbie — why do you restrict drinking only to Thursdays (as opposed to Fridays or Saturdays)??

    @Jon at Free Money Wisdom and Kevin @ How does your decision not to drink affect your friendships?

  9. Matt April 29, 2011 at 1:19 PM

    Great post! I’ve cut down the bar expenses and I enjoy spending more time at the house BBQ’ing anyway. I still drink but just keep it local

  10. Amy Saves April 29, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    I’ve never understood why people order Grey Goose or Belvedere. Vodka is vodka. Tastes the same to me and does the job.

  11. Cassie April 29, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    Some of the Canadian provinces are actually 18 and up ;)

    One way to keep costs down (if you drink a lot of it) is to just make your own. You don’t get the same economy if you’re an occasional drinker, but if you like a couple beers a night with your roommate it’s pretty economical.

  12. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager April 29, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    Or just homebrew. It’s fun, a social activity, cheap and you can make what you want. Plus, bars close at 2AM, your house is always open.

  13. Paula @ April 29, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    @Cassie — Some Canadian provinces allow drinking at 18 and up?? Why, oh why, did I not go to university in Canada???? I was young for my grade level, and couldn’t go to the pubs until the middle of my senior year of university. :-(

    @Jenna — homebrew sounds fascinating! I would make ginger beer … extra ginger-y.

    @Amy Saves — there’s a Polish vodka called Wodka that recieved great reviews by vodka critics and is much cheaper than Grey Goose — I did a post about it on my blog:

  14. Hunter April 29, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    In Australia….no drinking age….you buy wine in a box, they call it Chateau Cardboard. After consuming the contents you can use the internal bladder as a pillow on the beach. Now that’s a cheap night out.

  15. Jon | Free Money Wisdom April 29, 2011 at 8:56 PM

    @ Paula: My friendships have been great lol why do you ask? I drink one or two beers at the most. I’ve found it’s actually a necessity to drink to network, especially within the construction world. One beer away from a new construction contract!

  16. Jenna May 2, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    Boxed wine is my favorite way to save on adult beverages! So much more economical than bottles, and there really are some good brands out there now.

    Also, if you’re doing the dinner thing, look for restaurants that don’t sell wine and have a BYOB policy – they’ll let you bring your own bottle for little or no cost. Most restaurants will still let you bring in a bottle, but their corking fee would be higher and it’s less of an overall savings. If you’re not sure, call ahead and ask about their policy. This is a great way to save, especially if you’ve received the wine as a gift!

  17. J. Money May 4, 2011 at 1:40 AM

    Thanks again Paula! Was fun to read & see the discussions – Really appreciate it :)

    @Kevin @ – Dang, son – good for you!
    @Investing Newbie – What’s sleep? :)
    @CityFlips – That’s where it’s at!
    @B. Myself – Yeah, 1 day a week is pretty decent. Much better than the 4 from college days ;) Although back then I had many more cooler stories, haha…
    @MacroCheese – hahahaha…. what if you pre-game, and then MAKE babies? :)
    @Ryan – Says that guy knocking on your door w/ the badge! haha…
    @Jon | Free Money Wisdom – I will be one to disagree ;)
    @Matt – I’m starting to get into more local breweries myself. Not sure if it’s really cheaper, but it feels better for some reason?
    @Amy Saves – Yeah, I can’t tell the diff. either… but I’m sure there is one if you were a big vodka drinker.
    @Cassie & Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager – I would LOVE to make my own!!! Come teach me how! :)
    @Hunter – no drinking age??? dang!!! and heck yeah we got box wine here every now and then – ain’t afraid to admit it, haha…
    @Jenna – Man, I never get to hit up BYOB places… I don’t think there are a lot in the DC area, but I’d be a huge fan of it!