While everyone from Oprah to Britney to the CNBC staff and even my ex girlfriend has accepted and participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge, we did our own challenge. Our challenge focused on being more productive, reducing our expenses and being healthier. We decided to go thirty days without a single drink of wine, beer or liquor. Yikes! That was more shocking to our system than any bucket of ice could be. We’ve done cleanses before when we went two weeks without drinking, but 30 days is the longest we have gone without drinking since our teens or twenties (David was a late bloomer). What we learned was interesting and valuable for us, so we thought we’d share.
We Spend A Lot of Money on Alcohol
We’re sure in some religious or psychoanalytic circles we’re alcoholics, but we don’t consider ourselves so. We can quit whenever we want and we did. We do appreciate a good drink and consider ourselves more social drinkers than anything. Wine is our drink of choice, but we don’t hold any prejudice towards other drinks. David likes a good Sazarac. John likes his dirty Hendricks martinis. They are perfect times for a good beer.
Even though we consider ourselves social drinkers and productive participants in society, we spend quite a bit of money on libations. In the course of a standard week for us, we’ll have about four bottles of wine and a couple of cocktails. We guestimate our average cost per bottle of wine is $13. For the week, that costs us $52. We guestimate our two cocktails per week cost about $8. Combined our cost is $60 per week and $3,120 annually. Whoa!
$3,120 annually spent on alcohol at home is pretty hefty. This doesn’t include drinks out, which aren’t as often, but their costs are astronomically higher. Whew! $3,120 invested annually at 6 percent for 20 years equals $131,952. That’s a few years of retirement.
We Consume a Lot of Calories from Alcohol
According to the the USDA, an average bottle of red wine (table wine, Syrah, Cab, etc.) has about 613 calories. An average bottle of white wine (Riesling, Sauv, Chardonnay) has about 597 calories. The average vodka martini, David’s drink of choice, has about 127 calories. The average gin martini has about 156 calories.
If we have three bottles of red and one bottle of white in a week, we average about 2,436 wine calories a week. If we have two martinis a week, we have 283 liquor calories a week. Our total is 2,719 alcohol calories a week drinking at home. That’s about 19 percent of a 2,000 calories diet. Wow, no wonder we don’t see huge results from our 20+ miles of running a week.
We Are More Alert When We Don’t Drink
When we are on the wagon we are more efficient in our thinking and productive with our work. We easily wake up at 5 AM to do Debt Free Guys’ work, work at our day jobs from 8 AM to 5 PM, and then do more Debt Free Guys work in the evening.
When we’re off the wagon, waking up at 5 AM is harder and everything else that follows seems to either be delayed, late or missed altogether. This impacts both our side-hustle and fitness goals.
We Have More Energy When We Don’t Drink
We are training for a half-marathon in October, Denver’s Rock & Roll Marathon. Three days a week in the morning, we run four to six miles and run 8 miles or more on the weekends. When we’re on the wagon, we don’t miss a run and runs feel good. In addition, we hit the weights and yoga each once a week without fail and without an impact on our energy when we don’t drink. We just have more energy and more resolve to achieve our goals.
Another factor that contributes to our energy levels is that we sleep better. We experience less waking up, less tossing and turning and can hit the ground running when the alarm goes off.
Things are only worth doing when you enjoy them, someone else enjoys them or we learn from them. We are lucky because we experienced all three. We enjoyed taking a break, challenging ourselves and feeling good. We put more time and attention into our true passion; Debt Free Guys. This allowed us to put the finishing touches on our third eBook; #MoneyConscious Financial Planning Guide: 12 Steps to a Richer You and allowed us to bring financial education to others. Because of this we plan to take 30 days off from drinking again.
Have you taken a challenge that helped you financially or taught you a lesson you care to share?