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A few months ago I took a good look at my overall spending for 2016 (via Mint) to figure out how much I'd spent on alcohol. I found that, when I divided the total number for the year by the number of weeks that had passed so far in the year, I spend an average of $35 a week on alcohol. (Of course, Mint is not a perfect science — at least not the way I use it. There's no accounting for cash spending, splitting checks on Venmo, etc.)
Living in an expensive city like I do, where most people also don't drive and therefore have the "excuse" to drink more, $35 a week seems pretty minimal. It's interesting to me how people have different ideas of what constitutes "a lot" of drinking. Of course, I have to take into account the way I was raised. In my household, there was no taboo against drinking; I saw my mom drink a glass of red wine pretty much every night. I rarely saw my parents have more than one drink at a time, except on special occasions or during family get-togethers — it was simply a thing adults did.
I've never considered myself to be a huge drinker, but when I say I have a couple drinks probably three nights a week, some people think that's quite a lot, while others just shrug and consider that to be pretty normal. I also have to take into account that my drinking habits fluctuate depending on other things going on in my life. For instance, I started dating my boyfriend almost a year ago, and much of the time we spent together was over drinks. Now that a lot of our time consists of nights spent in one of our respective apartments, we both consume less alcohol (which sometimes takes a concerted effort on both of our parts — we are both somewhat social enablers who love beer) and more television, and spend less money.
Alcohol spending is particularly interesting to me, because it's obviously not a "necessary" spending category, but at this point in my life, I know so few people who have it out of their lives.
11 People Share How Much Money They Spend on Alcohol per Week
Of course, I can't be representative of every single person in my age bracket. So I asked some peers — all in their 20s and 30s, and whose names I've changed — about what an average week of alcohol spending looks like for them. Keep in mind almost all of these people live in urban areas, so it's still not a completely accurate snapshot (although, really, what is?), but I think their answers provide some interesting insight into how we approach this particular area of spending.
1. "I would say I spend between $50 and $100. It depends on how social I'm feeling that week. I feel like I go out more in the summer because it's warmer and easier to go to bars and stuff." – Neil, Producer
2. "It's easier to measure my alcohol spending in months, because about once every month or so, I do a buy on Wines Til Sold Out (the only place I buy wine, and the only place anyone should, honestly), and I'll usually do about 100 bucks for eight really good bottles. It's cheap compared to what these bottles go for in the store, but still pretty pricey. Combine that with 'going out' spending and the errant liquor purchase (let's say one $50 bottle per month, and I don't drink beer), and you come out to an average of $75 a week. That's a lot, but I also spend a ghastly amount on groceries and restaurants. Good food and good wine are where basically all of my spending money goes, and I have zero remorse. I should also add that the majority of our bottles go into dinner parties or cocktail parties, which we try to host in some version every week or so, so it's not mostly us consuming this stuff, but I have never regretted a dollar spent on a good bottle to enjoy with good friends." – Danielle, Writer
3. "Probably like 20 bucks a week? Usually a bottle of wine throughout the whole week and maybe a mixed drink here or there." – Brandy, Stenographer
4. "Probably around $5 a week. I buy wine once a month, roughly, and rarely go out. We're big house party people." – Kelsey, PR Account Manager
5. "I'd say I spend anywheres from $40 to $100 in an average week on alcohol, depending on if I go out or not. If I'm just drinking at home, it's almost always beer. If I go out, it's beer and cocktails. And that's almost certainly less than it used to be when I would go out more. Then, I'd probably be spending about $200 a week on drinks." – Patrick, Developer
6. "We have been staying in a lot more lately (getting old), which means buying more at one time and spreading it over the month. We typically buy between four and six bottles of wine to last us for the month (comes out to be about $5 to $15 a week) and then we go out maybe two to three times a month where we will both enjoy about $10 to $25 on the alcohol portion, depending on the situation (dinner vs. friends in town). So maybe on average $35 to $90 a week, which is factored into our entertainment budget. But I have had months where the cost has been much more per week. I always try to look for big-box wine discounts, and try to stock up that way." – Rebecca, Marketing Lead
7. "I'd say maybe $200 per year, or $3.75 a week. I typically don't go out unless I'm visiting my significant other or friends in metropolitan areas." – Gerald, Grad Student
8. "Hmmm. Well I just bought an $8 Bloody Mary." – Stella, Ski Resort Employee
9. "Living in a big city, my weekends definitely vary along with my alcohol purchases. Typically on a Friday, I split a handle or a few bottles of wine that my roommates and I will drink before we go out to a bar. Once at the bar, I'll probably only buy one drink (which can be up to $12 generally). On Saturday, I normally go out to dinner where I'll have a drink, and then maybe go out again, where I'll buy one or two more drinks. Overall, I think it averages out to about $45." – Hannah, PR Assistant
10. "I probably average $50 a week. I go out like twice a week, and I rarely drink at home. I think that's been pretty consistent, because I don't like drinking or going out all the time." – Daniel, Barista
11. "I would say I used to spend around $75 to $100 a week depending on how often I went out, but now that I'm dating someone, it's a lot less — closer to $50 because I'm spending more nights are home." – James, Comedian