It is no secret that alcohol costs money.
However hard we try to ignore it, deep down we know how much of our hard-earned cash is blown on booze.
If it’s not cheap wine from the corner shop, it’s pints at our local pub. If it’s not pints at our local pub, it’s celebratory prosecco for a special occasion.
We love a drink in this country, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s free.
When I was drinking, I would do anything to avoid looking at my bank account the day after a binge. I would hazily recall buying shots for the seven strangers who ‘seemed nice’ and wonder why I had no self-control.
It wasn’t just alcohol I blew my money on, though.
Whenever I was drinking, I’d be smoking 10 times my regular number of cigarettes.
I’d also be much more likely to pick up drugs.
I’d almost always buy a greasy takeaway at the end of the night, following it up with another, greasier takeaway the next day.
I’d shudder at the thought of walking or getting the bus anywhere when I was hanging, so I’d have to get taxis.
It’s no wonder I was so broke.
According to my I Am Sober app, I would have spent £1,300 on alcohol alone in the last 11 months if I hadn’t gone sober. (That’s without the ciggies, drugs, takeaways, and taxis.)
When I discovered how much money I’d saved, I was left wondering:
Why doesn't my bank account reflect this?!?!
If I really had saved that much, surely I’d be at least a few grand up (which I am certainly not).
I felt a little disappointed, and for a (very short) split second, wondered if giving up drink was really worth it if I hadn’t managed to save any cash.
That’s when I realised:
I hadn’t not saved money from giving up alcohol, I had just (for the first time in my life) had enough cash to spend on other (much more wholesome) things!
Giving up drink didn’t increase my savings (at least not yet, anyway), but now I have a multitude of hobbies I would never have had the time or cash for before going sober.
I’m a monthly member of a climbing wall; I have a limitless cinema pass; I go out for dinner and take trips more frequently; I give to several charities each month; I buy plenty of groceries; I can fill up my boyfriend’s car with petrol; I sometimes even splash out and get my hair done.
This might not seem like much (especially to the older, non-student community), but to me, this is an enormous amount of money.
The difference is, now I'm spending money on things I want to spend it on
Now I’m spending it on things that reduce my anxiety, not increase it.
Now it’s going towards things that help me achieve what I want to achieve.
Where I used to think being kind generous was all about buying strangers a million shots, I now think that maybe that isn't really a kind thing to do at all. (Those people who I 'treated' with free drinks almost certainly woke up with a worse head the next day because of me!)
Now I can say (from the bottom of my heart) that when I buy people gifts, give to charity, or offer to lend people money, I’m doing it because I genuinely want to help them, not because I’m craving their attention or want them to get steaming drunk with me.
If you’re in the early stages of sobriety, you might find it motivating to make a quick note of how much you’re saving by not buying alcohol. Whether that’s per day, per week, per month, or per year, you will notice that it's actually a lot of money.
If, like me, you're still not great at saving, know that whatever you choose to spend your cash on when going sober is worth so much more than the alcoholic alternative.