How cutting down drinking can save you money
Find out how giving up or reducing your alcohol intake can have a positive impact on your bank balance.
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Most of us know the many health benefits of giving up or reducing your alcohol intake but drinking can have a considerable impact on the health of your bank account too.
There are lots of good reasons for cutting down or giving up alcohol. Whether it’s reducing your risk of long-term health problems, improving your mental wellbeing, losing weight, or sleeping better – the benefits are numerous.
An added bonus, and one that you may not have considered is the impact it can have on spending. If you’re stopping drinking or cutting down, you may be surprised at the savings you can make. Saving money is a great reason for cutting down on alcohol and can be a satisfying and motivating reason to stop or reduce your drinking.
Before you get started on your savings journey, it’s a good idea to work out roughly how much you spend on alcohol. Be as honest with yourself as possible, it could lead to bigger rewards later.
The average UK household spends £17.60 on alcohol a week – or nearly £1,000 a year.1 But this figure varies for everyone and can be a lot higher or lower depending on several things, including whether you drink at home or while out, the types of drinks you have, and how much you drink.
Remember, to keep health risks to a minimum, the UK Chief Medical Officers’ low risk drinking guidelines recommend drinking no more than 14 units a week spread evenly throughout the week with several drink-free days and no bingeing.
The following examples show how much an individual might spend over the course of a week or year, with an alcohol intake of just under 14 units a week.
If you're planning to reduce your drinking as a household these savings can be multiplied. If you live in London or any other UK city, it’s also worth noting that alcohol prices are higher than the UK average, resulting in greater savings.*
When you’re working out how much you spend, don't forget to factor in those hidden extra costs of drinking alcohol too. If you tend to go out to drink, there may well be associated costs of taxis, buying expensive rounds for friends and the odd takeaway on the way home. You may be more likely to spend more on ordering in food the next day or on other items as a result of your drinking if you feel hungover and sluggish and not up to doing your usual activities.
Based on the examples listed above, cutting down the amount you drink by half would mean reducing your alcohol intake by around seven units a week. As well as improving your health and wellbeing, this would result in the following savings.
Remember, you can tailor any savings to your own situation and goals. You might be making the changes on your own, or you might choose to make some savings as a household or couple. All you need to do is keep a record of how much you spend on alcohol in a typical week (you might need to think back if you’ve already quit drinking). If you find it hard to jot things down, there are apps and online calculators that can help you to do this too, such as Try Dry. To keep an eye on your units and manage your drinking you can also download MyDrinkaware.
Thinking what else you could spend the money you’ve saved on can be a real motivator. These could be short-term gains and rewards, such as treating yourself to a coffee, takeaway meal, or cinema ticket. But having a longer-term savings goal, like a holiday, can create that incentive to keep going.
Depending on how much you expect to save, a longer-term savings goal could include:
Keeping track of how much you’ve saved can give you a real boost and help you to stay incentivised. It’s important to find a method of recording your progress that best suits you.
If you like being able to see things in ‘hard cash’ it might mean putting money saved from nights out or drinks down the pub into a savings pot at home. You might decide to use this for a takeaway or family outing once a month. If you like having a visual reminder, you could also set yourself phone notifications or create a savings calendar with a saving target at the end of every month.
For higher amounts or longer-term savings, you might prefer to track your money online and put any savings into another dedicated account each month. Most online banking apps also allow you to create a savings goal or assign money to a particular cause. Set up a regular transfer of the money you would have spent on alcohol – and watch as it continues to grow.
*Please note all calculation examples use approximate values based on average costs around the UK as of January 2022.
 Calculation based on £20.50 gin and vodka branded spirits in one litre bottles at Tesco.
Last Reviewed: 19th January 2022
Next Review due: 19th January 2024