The Real Cost Of A Cocktail: A Financially Sobering Account

It’s 6 am – my alarm goes off. My head is pounding. The regrets from last night’s happy hour start to cloud my head.


A lot of us fall into this trap. We think “what’s the harm with just a few happy hour drinks after work?”  We know that it’s great to bond with coworkers and show that we’re willing to become involved in the office culture. Plus, who doesn’t love to ‘let loose’ after a long day of work and have some fun outside of the office?


Near the end of the night, I realized that the same thing kept happening. Upon announcing my departure, coworkers would suggest “just have one more!!”. Being a sucker for peer pressure, I’d take their suggestion and “just have one more”. What’s the harm, right? But then I started thinking, what if I DIDN’T have that last drink? What is the opportunity cost of alcohol over my entire life?


Living in a city isn’t cheap (and the drinks aren’t cheap either!). Assuming happy hour happens once per week (I might be underestimating here), and that extra drink is around $10, that means cutting back would save me $40/month… easy. Let’s not forget the number of calories I’d be saving as well (but that’s another article in itself). Now, what if I invested this money each month, from now until age 65. Being the financial nerd that I am, I wanted to calculate what that amount could potentially grow. You ready?? Assuming a 7% rate of return and 35 years of savings… $72,042! I shared this idea with some of my friends and they were blown away. Many Millennials aren’t afraid to share their difficulties in managing debt, paying normal living expenses, and finding enough to save for retirement (what’s that?)


By making a tiny tweak to my wine obsession, I am able to accumulate more money than I ever thought was possible. Plus it makes it fun to pass on that last drink and get a water instead. Just make sure to add a lime and a skinny straw to add to the ‘cool’ factor.

To learn more about the true cost of alcohol and other lifestyle factors, checkout all of our finance lifestyle articles here.

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