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 I 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!”


  • Steve May 20, 2011, 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.


  • Sarah May 20, 2011, 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.

  • Peach Fuzz May 20, 2011, 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, 10:14 pm


      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!

  • Sam May 23, 2011, 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 :)

  • Tim May 25, 2011, 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, 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, 10:57 pm

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

  • Kevin M May 31, 2011, 2:13 pm

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

    • MMM June 1, 2011, 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.

  • rosarugosa June 8, 2011, 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!

  • Madison June 24, 2011, 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….

  • Matthew July 11, 2011, 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.

  • Frankie_Pianki October 23, 2012, 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!

  • Locus415 August 30, 2013, 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.


    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.

  • Tom October 17, 2013, 4:30 pm

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

  • jjmclell November 9, 2013, 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!

  • Mr. Marijuana Mustache March 15, 2014, 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, 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, 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!

  • Matt June 8, 2014, 10:11 pm

    I’m reading through the blog for the second time right now and ran across this entry again. Both times it has struck me as oddly anti-mustachian. Why does everybody get punched in the face for doing unhealthy things like driving a car to work or eating fast food, when something (arguably) more detrimental is described os OK? Can’t good times be had without alcohol or drugs? I would argue you can have a much better time without, but that’s my opinion. Love your stuff MMM but wouldn’t you say this is a bit of a case of rationalization? I suppose that to each his own goes here.

    • Mr. Money Mustache June 9, 2014, 7:36 am

      Yes! It IS rationalization. Even more badass people will choose to drink even less or abstain from alcohol. They might also maintain better physical fitness than me, choose zero driving instead of moderate driving, grow all their own food, etc.

      I’m just not particularly badass myself, so I thought I’d propose this middle ground that is easy to attain, nicely compatible with society, and still better than average. If you read carefully, you’ll see that this blog walks the middle ground in all areas of life.

      • The Roamer September 8, 2014, 11:23 am

        I am also reading second time around. And it was disappointing the first time as I don’t really care for either ( or really anything that makes you less aware) but now I’m really glad the post exists.
        Because I’m hoping its a good primer for some people who do enjoy such things. I’m hoping if they can feel some sort of connection with MMM because of this then maybe they’ll stick around and learn about all the other great stuff. You know like the whole managing your money part.
        Here hoping those relative stick around the site!

  • Stellar October 13, 2014, 10:16 am

    I love that you mentioned Shiner. Their Oktoberfest is my most favorite part of fall. I love beer and it’s my most guilty pleasure. I used to work at the Boulder IBM facility and the best thing about Colorado is all the microbrews.

    I’m not sure I can only have six in one week. I’ll have a random occasional beer for dinner and on a cozy movie night at home my husband and I will share a sixer. Not to mention it’s football season.

    Health-wise, this is probably a concern but I’m hoping 20 or so miles of slow jogging per week plus two gallons of water a day, no greasy foods and no simple carbs helps a bit.

  • polarette June 20, 2015, 6:06 am

    well this post came just in time. I was fretting over the amount of money I spend on beverages in a month. (I recently started tracking). I just hit 100Euros, and it’s only the 20.! To be fair, beers in Berlin cost between 2.50 and 3.50 going out (I don’t drink at home), and I do tend to buy guests or friends a drink, but I appreciate you giving me something to aim for.

  • Alyce July 5, 2015, 11:49 pm

    This is hilariously fun and yet practical! So I admit—as a somewhat spoiled American, when I moved to Ontario to live with my Canadian boyfriend, I was somewhat dubious when I learned that he had signed up at the local home brew winery establishment to satisfy our joint wine habit. We wound up brewing and enjoying great pinot noir and malbec for less than 10 dollars per bottle! Sadly, while the relationship did not last, the lesson on frugal wines lingered! I am much more frugal in my wine selections, and looking to home brew my beer here in Oregon. Thanks, Perry!

  • dopey July 24, 2015, 4:21 pm

    I can’t advocate for getting hammered on a weekly basis but I do shoot for about $10 per week in alcohol spending. Generally this means going without for a few days then getting a bottle of wine or better quality six pack (Sierra Nevada, typically) and consuming over 2 or 3 days. I’ve tried making drinks with cheaper vodka which does get the cost per drink down but I just drink more which doesn’t really interest me. Quality over quantity.

  • Daniel Levitan January 22, 2016, 2:30 am

    Hi MrMoneyMustache!

    Up to now I was really ok with the blog. But BEER! Beer is serious business!

    I’d consider getting drunk twice a week normal. And I’d consider, during summer, having 2 drunk days and 2 or 3 regular beer drinking days during the week.

    I’d also ponder that a 1.50 usd beer completely different from a 4.00 usd beer. So, here you have the experience.

    I know we are trying to get most of our stash, but, come on, what is the fun of being retired and drinking one time per week?!

    This is a non negotiable at all.

    By the way, I also brew my beer.

    Daniel, from the always summer city of Rio de Janeiro

  • bd February 22, 2016, 5:07 pm

    so, mostly i’m a mustachio.
    but, i have one spendy habit: belgian brews + other euro wild ales
    each goes for between $6 -$10 per 12oz or so bottle
    my “leisure” is now => putting in a few hours a week at the local brew shop
    i still spend 100$ a month on brews and $200 if you count two of us
    but . . . better than $35 a bottle at bars!

  • bd February 22, 2016, 5:08 pm

    ps, what that means is i get my brews at near cost
    and the few bucks i make goes to the brews!

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher June 10, 2016, 7:37 am

    I gotta say, we’ve pretty much stopped buying drinks while out on the town, and our alcohol “budget” has gone down significantly. We did try the Bota box, which I was a fan of, but it didn’t suit Mr. Picky Pincher’s Picky sensibilities. Although we buy more beer from the store now, it’s still way cheaper. And as a plus we can drink on our quiet patio and watch the sun set–no crowded, dark bars. This is the life. :)

  • Winslow July 19, 2016, 5:49 am

    MMM, I’m gonna go on the record as being a beer lover too. The employees dedicated to accomplishing this task are some of my happiest employees.

  • Be September 25, 2016, 9:47 am

    Moderation was never my strong suit with mood altering substances so I’ve abstained for 8 years now. I don’t understand how people afford to drink at bars, smoke tobacco and other luxuries (make up, hair dye at a hairdresser, nail polish, etc etc). I’m also not good with moderation of sugar intake but I’m working from a “the less you consume; the less you crave” mentality these days and it seems to be helping.

  • MissCT December 28, 2016, 1:28 pm

    This is a great reminder with New Years coming up. Also this post made me laugh out loud to my self while at work in a silent room, which prompted many people to ask about it so I was able to spread the MMM wisdom to my peers.

  • Teetotaler Mustachian October 10, 2017, 7:43 am

    If you can’t do as MMM suggests, you might have an alcohol or drug problem. 12 Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous might work for you. The bonus is AA provides hours of free and cheap entertainment, meetings can be positively hilarious, better than any comedy club, dances to beat the best clubs, and late nights at diners drinking bottomless cups of coffee. AA also helps to build the discipline necessary to build a stache. Not everyone needs AA, but for those who do, it can be awesome!

  • FF,Pharm.D. November 18, 2017, 8:26 am

    MMM, loving the app! I’ve been a long time follower, but now I’m getting to read ALL of your posts from oldest to most current!

    I’m dying to know, how high were you when you came up with your superhero name “Mr. Money Mustache?” 😂

  • MV November 16, 2018, 8:56 am

    Hi MMM,
    I think this is the expense that I find most difficult to cut down on. All others seem very doable, but this one I find difficult. Although living without alcohol is probably the healthiest option, having a beer with friends in a local bar is one of the things I like best. In addition to all the beer lovers that primarily marvel about the taste of a good beer, I also like the social aspect and cherish the change of scenery.

    As a first step I started to invite friends to my home more often. Even if I pay for everything, it generally costs me less than a good night out. However, after a few times doing that I start to miss the atmosphere of a good old bar at the canals (i.e. I live in Amsterdam).

    I tried to sort of invite myself over at my friends to get a change of location, but it is just not the same for me. Me and my friends live in modest apartments or houses and they are just no match to the great medieval city centre of Amsterdam.

    Another thing that I have tried is to have a picknick in the park. That works out well in the summer, but at winter times it isn’t as comfortable.

    Does anybody have advice on how I can get a similar experience to going to a local bar with a frequent change of location, without the associated costs? Or can anybody explain how a Mustachian lifestyle can substitute my desire for going out, having a great time and meeting new people at a vibrant location? Thanks for your thoughts.

  • PAtrick July 23, 2019, 9:13 am


    Before I saw your update about homebrewing, I was going to suggest that. In Minnesota, we have the highest alcohol sales tax rate in the country, made more painful by the above average excise tax, which increases the retail price for that high alcohol sales tax. It’s double jeopardy! But homebrewing ingredients are considered groceries, which are not taxed.

  • Annie August 17, 2020, 7:50 am


    What an interesting blog!

    My husband and I are not heavy drinker, so we don’t have a budget for alcohol, but I do keep a tab of our spending.

    I went to OttawaU – hello fellow Canadian!

    At the time, when I would go out (it was often), I would leave with 20 bucks… In those days, I was a smoker, so on that $20, $8 was for the pack of cigarettes. That leaves $12 for alcohol… I would still come back home with money in my pocket. I was there to socialize and danse, not to get wasted.

    I remember a girl on my dorm that would drink a mickey before leaving and would still drink for about $160 a night. Do you really have fun? Do you remember anything from your night out?

    Also, when I lived in NC, I would go for drinks on Friday night with coworkers and I would be the DD, because I would only have 1 drink, while all the others would be wasted.

    I got wasted in my young age, but I prefer being in control of myself… and my spending.

    Nowadays, I prefer a good bottle of red wine with a nice supper at home with my husband and friends/family.




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