Skip to main content

People drinking alcohol at a bar or restaurant.

Photos.com

When eating out with friends, we normally alternate who picks up the bill instead of splitting every cheque. When it's their turn to pay, they often remark that I'm a cheap date.

And it's true because I rarely drink when eating out.

I'm fairly strategic with my alcohol purchasing habits, because that's what they are for many of us: habits. And since booze can easily double a food bill, those habits can add up quickly.

Story continues below advertisement

With summer approaching, cracking open an ice-cold beer on a patio is something a lot of Canadians look forward to. When it's cold, alcohol can feel like it warms us up (even though your core body temperature would actually be dropping). Add in our world-class wineries and it's probably not too surprising that the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) notes that Canucks imbibe 50 per cent more booze than the global average.

With all discretionary expenses, budgeting how much you want to spend starts with figuring out how much you have been spending. That can be an eye-opening experience, but knowing the actual figure can help motivate you to make some money-saving changes.

Take a second right now and figure out the rough annual expense based on your own habits. A 24-pack of beer once a month? A weekly pub-night with friends? Anniversaries and special nights out?

When you realize cutting your alcohol bill in half could be enough to pay for an all-inclusive vacation, eliminate a credit card balance, or help fund retirement, cutting back doesn't seem like such a wild suggestion.

If you're eating out, you can ask about corkage fees for bringing in your own wine. If the restaurant allows it, the extra cost can be less than the markup for similar calibre wines. You can also opt for half-bottles or wines by the glass. The markups might be higher, but the absolute costs can be lower.

A friend of mine, who dines out frequently, resolutely sticks to the lower price ranged bottles when dining out and buys his favourite wines for home consumption to save himself from the restaurant markups.

Some people are saving by replacing higher-priced wine with cheaper beer. Canadians love our beer and with so many options available, beer connoisseurs can enjoy pairings with meals at a fraction of the cost of wines, with the same enjoyment.

Story continues below advertisement

Forget the latte factor, for Canadians the booze factor can be much more sobering.

Preet Banerjee, a personal finance expert, is the host of Million Dollar Neighbourhood on The Oprah Winfrey Network. You can read his blog at WhereDoesAllMyMoneyGo.com and follow him on Twitter at @preetbanerjee.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter