It’s Beer ‘o’ Clock

With this being Friday and all, I figure it’s a good time to address a tricky issue. A place where the Good Life we advocate here at MMM comes into direct conflict with optimizing your spending. That place is BEER, and other recreational drugs of your choice.

Mr. Money Mustache definitely enjoys a good brew. And a good jug of wine occasionally too. And a strong Espresso in the morning. And even a pipe packed with Colorado’s Finest Legal Marijuana if it should happen to present itself. Which it tends to do when open my drawer full of marijuana supplies. I admire those who choose to abstain completely from these substances, but for me it is worth a certain amount of money and health risk to experience the altered states of consciousness that bring Introspective Voyages, Creative Breakthroughs and just plain Really Good Times. But only in a mathematically determined moderation that ensures that the Good Times will never cause Bad Times.

Let’s focus on alcohol for this article, since it’s the habit that most commonly gets out of control among humans. What is the maximum amount you’re allowed to enjoy? How can this be had without compromising health or early retirement?

Mr. Money Mustache, while possessing no medical qualifications of any sort, is still going to tell you what to do:

I think that a beer-and-wine-loving person should consume no more than what is required to get good and drunk, once per week. Preferably much less, but hopefully we can all agree that if you actually care about your health, you should not get drunk more than once a week.

So, about 6 drinks is your allowance. 6 beers, or 6 glasses of wine, per week. You can space it out all civilized-like with your dinners, or you can have a bender tonight. You’re also allowed “rollover beers” if you don’t use them all up in a given week. If you shop wisely, you can get this amount of good quality drinks at about $1.50 per serving, so your total drinking budget is $9 per week.

This is still a hell of a lot of money, $6912 over ten years with compounding, so I encourage you to optimize it further and drink less. But it is a budget that will keep you from destroying yourself and/or burning off your Money Mustache.

But for some of you, Nine Bucks is sounding a little bit challenging, isn’t it? What if you’re sitting in Las Vegas or a Cruise Ship, and the stupid drinks are $14.00 each?

The answer is simple: You don’t get suckered in by shit like that, ever! As an MMM reader, you have learned to love and appreciate each of your dollars, your employees that will work for you for life. So the very idea of anyone trying to steal fourteen, or even four of them, for a beverage that is only worth a maximum of $1.50 should be offensive to you! When I go to a restaurant, I’m there to marvel at the skill of the chef, making me food that might take many hours to produce at home. That has value. There’s no added value in somebody taking a beer out of a fridge and handing it to me. So why do they think that service is worth a 200-1000% markup?

If you do decide it’s worth $4.50 for a pint at the expensive brewery downtown, that’s half your budget used up for the week. So you have to weigh the options and decide if you’d rather have three wonderful cold ones on your own patio with your friends, or settle for a single in the restaurant. Don’t forget tax and tip.

Back in my university days, cash was short enough in my town that people actually thought about their alcohol spending. I remember the pre-parties that would be had before going out to the pubs, so that fewer drinks would need to be purchased there. I remember secret bottles stashed in pockets and plenty of similar fun that also kept students from having to resort to student loans. But even back then, I could see the savers and the spenders beginning to separate, when some of us would bring a $10 bill for the night’s bar tab and come home with $7, and other people would drunkenly blast out $100 of their borrowed employees in the name of a good time. Some of those hundred-dollar nights are surely being paid back by thirtysomethings to this day, who complain how hard it is to save for a house downpayment and take care of student loans at the same time. Talk about a long hangover!

This article is just to remind you that there’s more than one kind of good time out there, and the Good Times that you get from being free of monetary worries for life are way, way better than the good times of buying a lot of drinks in a bar.

And with that thought, I think I’m going to head out to my back yard and use up about half of my weekly budget right now.. Cheers!

Update! After writing this article, I went on to start brewing my own beer for further fun and profit. You can read about the results in the articles called: “A Mustachian Microbrewery is Born“, and “Brewery Update: Beer ready, Critics Raving!”

 

Welcome New Readers! Take a look around. Feeling Hardcore? Start at the first article and read your way through using the links at the bottom of each article. Casual Sampler? Browse the complete list of all posts since the beginning of time. Hope to see you around here more often. ~ Love, Mr. Money Mustache

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20 Responses to “It’s Beer ‘o’ Clock”

  1. Steve May 20, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    There’s also the alcohol content to consider. That $2.50 lite at 3% is a worse deal than a 7% Belgian at $4.00. While I have fond memories of nickel night at the downtown bars on Thursday night, I try to forget the following Friday mornings.

    I also try to observe a 6 beer limit each week to preserve my waistline and my liver. When I go out for dinner, I’ll ask what is on tap. If they have something I don’t have at home made by a local brewery and it is less than $4, I’ll probably buy it.

    I love beer and fermenting stuff, so I brew my own for around $20 per case.

    .

  2. Sarah May 20, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    Now, this is a topic I can fully support! We do love our beer and pre-partying is still alive and well in my 40-somethings frugal crowd. Great job on this, no heckling today from Sarah, who certainly admires yo’ mad rhymes!
    We like cheap beer for long days on the water but will spring for good draft on a special night. Your idea of 6 per week is a good rationing approach–I’ll try not to use them all up at Happy Hour tonight.

  3. Peach Fuzz May 20, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    I whole-heartedly agree with you. This is something we’ve been doing in my house for a while. I prefer to ration out the week, my husband prefers to drink his whole weekly allotment Friday night. We both win. Unfortunately it would seem alcohol is a little more expensive here in Canada. I’d argue your $1.50 drink is more like a twoonie up here. Steve is right – brew-your-own is another way to enjoy more alcohol while keeping more of your precious employees!

    • MMM May 20, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

      Yeah!

      I will be launching into a brew-your-own extravaganza because of the inspiration from all of you today, and from another friend who emailed me also in response to this article.

      The results, including time expenditure, cost savings, and beer quality evaluation, will be the subject of a revealing article later this summer.

      Peach Fuzz: Note that in Canada, you should definitely do the pretend-to-brew-your-own-wine service offered in so many retail stores now. The wine quality is amazing and it works out to $3 a bottle or so – even better than US pricing!

  4. Sam May 23, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    Yes! Brew your own! Leave the amateurs to their bars, let’s all get toasted in the comfort of our own couches! My husband has gotten extremely good at brewing my favorite, an IPA with strong Imperial Stout tendencies. And we’ve gotten good at saving yeast so that is another cost we’ve eliminated. And despite living in a desert, our landlord pays for all water…so beer is getting very close to $0 for us :)

  5. Tim May 25, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    I’ve brewed several types of beers the last two years, and I see the savings vs. going out and buying beer at bars / restaurants. If I can make some really great beer, and save some time and money, and enjoy it at home, then I am happy. You can get good beer for $9, but a $9 jug of wine is going to require some skill. And $9 “medical” marijuana? Maybe if it was legal in the USA, prices would be like in Amsterdam – definitely doable on $9 per week.

    • MMM May 25, 2011 at 10:30 pm #

      Glad to hear it!

      Good quality Marijuana is actually much cheaper than alcoholic drinks on a per-serving basis because of its potency. Based on a large-group experiment that ran for several days during a recent snowboarding trip, I determined that it takes about 50 cents of MJ to keep a large adult male entertained for an entire evening.

      • Tim May 25, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

        I subscribed to your blog after reading your ERE post. I am looking forward to future posts.

  6. Kevin M May 31, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    I can’t believe no one asked you your favorite beer?

    • MMM June 1, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

      Ahh.. thanks for asking! My favorite beer is currently the one in the picture for this article – Upslope Brown Ale from Boulder, CO.

      My all-time favorite, weighted in units of yum-years, is probably Shiner Bock from near Austin, Tx.

  7. rosarugosa June 8, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    Thanks MMM, for addressing these critical items that all too often get short shrift from PF bloggers! After all, we’re talking about living the Good LIfe here!

  8. Madison June 24, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    For us non-drinkers, I’ve actually made money with a night out on the town by being the designated driver.

    1)Around here, bars USUALLY will give the DD free soda (a couple of times even free food! Although that didn’t happen often)
    2)Friends will usually pay you a small ‘delivery’ fee, since they feel they are saving money on a cab

    Also, I’ve been baffled by the amount of money people will spend on alcohol in ONE night. How they think that is a valid use of their well earned money is beyond me….

  9. Matthew July 11, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    You can often save quite a bit by watching the sales around town, too. At least where I live, the on-sale items seem to cycle every so often, so if you have a favorite, you can “stock up” to hold you over until the next sale comes up.

    Mail-in rebates or unadvertised or “manager’s specials”, can net you a few dollars here and there, as well.

    At many places, the store will price match other stores, so you can consolidate all the trips to different stores to get the best deal into one convenient trip to a single store.

    It’s worth the few minutes to flip through the weekly ads in the paper and find the best buys on beverages, just like you’d shop around for anything else.

    http://liquorliker.com gathers sale prices on beverages and can quickly tell you where the best deals are at any given time. While the sale data is rather limited now, I use it all the time to find out where to go to get the most savings where I live.

  10. Frankie_Pianki October 23, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    Hmmm… i may have to conduct a large group snowboarding experiment of my own! Fifty cents for a night of mind-expanding entertainment? I’ll take it!

  11. Locus415 August 30, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    I agree on the brew-your-own way of cost cutting ones booze-bill. Have brewed for a couple of years, won some competitions, and even brewed sake, mead, graff, and skeeter pee (look it up, all good stuff). For wine, I have been doing Vino Italiano kits from Amazon.

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=bl_sr_grocery?_encoding=UTF8&field-brandtextbin=Vino%20Italiano&node=16310101

    They run about $40 a kit for about 30 bottles of good quality wine. Doing some research about techniques can really improve these wines to something comparable to a store bought $14-$20/bottle. The kits come with corks, foil wraps, and labels for that added touch of swank.

  12. Tom October 17, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    Hey, don’t forget the Moose Milk, eh?!

  13. jjmclell November 9, 2013 at 5:36 am #

    Reading your backlogs and this article couldn’t have come at a better time. As far as I’m concerned, beer is the nectar of the gods and I’ve recently been trying to balance principles of the ‘Stash with my lust for IPAs and Imperial Russian stouts. It does help to think that cutting back consumption to save $$$ is also good for my health. I’ve also been committing to imbibing only when I’m in a solid social environment rather than cracking a beer and plunking my ass down on the couch. This also tends to get me over to people’s homes for a night out rather than spending big bucks to go out on the town. Really enjoying your blog and hope to join your ranks some day soon!

  14. Mr. Marijuana Mustache March 15, 2014 at 11:30 pm #

    Not sure how you came up with 50 cents of MJ for an entire evening, that sounds way too low to me. Even if you get a discount by buying in bulk at a friendly rate of $200/ounce, 50 cents only works out to 0.07 grams – or about 1/7 of a normal sized joint (which is about 0.5 grams). Even the best quality MJ won’t keep 7 people buzzed all evening for a single joint, especially people that indulge on a semi regular basis.

    But the point of my post is that you can grow your own. It’s just a fucking weed! Not only will $300/mo worth of electricity and supplies give you enough of a supply to smoke as much as you possibly can, you will have enough of a surplus to sell to cover your entire operating cost and make up to $1000/mo.

    I’m sure you don’t condone breaking the law or selling drugs. I like MJ far more than alcohol, and like to indulge regularly, but my natural mustachian ways prevented me from spending thousands of dollars per year on the habit, so I just grow it myself!

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 17, 2014 at 7:52 am #

      Nice analysis, MMJM – I’d note that a pipe is many times more efficient than a joint, however. And the results will certainly vary by tolerance level. As a less-than-once-a-week smoker I am probably on the cheap date side.

      Also: $300/month in electricity!? You need to look into the LED grow lights, bro. Or throw some plants into the ground here in Colorado, where outdoor growing in your back garden is now legal.

      • Mr. Marijuana Mustache March 17, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

        You are correct that a pipe is much more efficient that smoking a joint. I suppose I am spoiled to the point that I don’t even do accounting for my intake. I literally smoke as much as I want and be as wasteful as I want with it as I have essentially an unlimited supply. My smoking is only limited by high I feel like getting, and how my lungs happen to be feeling – at which point I switch over to medibles, which I also have a virtually unlimited supply of. I can’t imagine indulging like this if I was paying street prices!

        The $300/mo in electricity covers all my regular household electricity too, which I don’t even monitor (very anti-mustachian of me) because the MJ more than pays for what I want to use. It also covers multiple ventilation fans and scrubbers all running 24/7, a dehumidifier running to maintain humidity at 40%, an air conditioner running (it is a closed system with CO2 supplementation) and multiple HID lights running.

        I have justified it to myself since selling 2 ounces will cover my electrical and other growing costs for the month (including all my personal electricity), provide me with a virtually unlimited smoking ‘stach, and allow me to sell/save an additional $1000 or so per month depending on how well it all goes.

        If I buckle down on my electrical usage though I can grow my ‘stach even faster! First stop is ditching my cable bill. Second stop is riding my bike to work!

        Love the site. I feel so inspired. I will be sticking around and reading all the other articles, but I will be commenting under my real name and email address from now on, as I will be promoting the site to all my coworkers, family, and friends, and don’t need any of them knowing my secret true identity and hobby.

        If you are ever in michigan you have an open invitation to stop by and stay over. I even have some home brew chilling in the basement. Cheers!

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