Sunday, February 23

Why I’m Practicing Sobriety for a Month

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As a working student, I’m always looking for ways to cut down my spending. I’ve also always got an eye on where exactly my money is going, so I’m not usually surprised when I get to the end of the month. But that’s not to say I don’t spend a little more than I should on wine! Alcohol more often than not takes up a pretty decent chunk of my monthly budget. In order to save some extra money this month, I have made the decision to temporarily practice sobriety.

You probably spend a good amount of money on alcohol

Alcohol culture, especially in modern westernized society, is a truly bizarre concept. Like most sections of our society that maybe aren’t okay, it also isn’t something that we stop and think about often. We all know that drinks are usually considered a section of one’s social life, but it’s surprising how much this impacts you financially. Each Canadians is estimated to spend $755 on alcohol each year

I’m practicing sobriety to improve my finances and health

I’m spending May of this year completely and totally sober. I like to go a month without alcohol every once in a while just to prove that I can. It’s been routine for me since high school. This year, sobriety is even more important because I’m especially strapped for cash at the moment. Like I said, my budget is pretty tight, but I still end up spending about $40/month on alcohol.

Not only will practicing sobriety save me at least $40 right off the bat, but I also find that the social expectations around drinking start to mean less after a while. Once I get in the habit of saying no, I believe that could impact me in my future spending. I mean, we’re all guilty of paying for a drink we don’t really want. I expect my resilience will fade after a while, but that’s why I do this annually!

If you’ve read my articles before, you might know how consistently wine makes its way into my routine. For things I don’t particularly enjoy (budgeting, packing for my upcoming move, filing documents), I find adding wine into the mix makes it a lot less daunting. Succeeding in my month of sobriety is entirely doable. But, I wanted to make sure to put some steps into place just in case I’m sitting at a table of friends next week and someone offers we grab sangrias (AKA, my weakness). Below are some of the most efficient tips!

Helpful tips to practice sobriety

Find someone to practice sobriety with you

This month my girlfriend and I are tackling this challenge together. We’ve both sworn off drinking for the next thirty days. If I could give one piece of advice that makes this a million times easier, it would be to do it with a friend or significant other! The closer you two are, or the more people you can get on board, the better! We all know drinking is more a social thing than anything else. So much so that I find peer pressure is the only thing that tempts me! If I have my girlfriend with me and a drinking opportunity comes up, it’s much easier for us to say no together.

Time it right

Believe it or not, I think there might be an easier time of the year to practice sobriety! I usually do it around when the weather starts to turn around, which in Canada can range from March to June. Not only does nice weather make it easier to plan to do things other than drink (see the next step!), but I tend to get more motivated once my body starts soaking in that long-missed vitamin D. I suspect I’m not alone in feeling slightly more social and energized once the snow starts melting. Starting a new self-improvement project with that kind of energy makes all the difference!

(Plus, choosing a month without a big holiday is an added bonus if you want to practice sobriety. I don’t know about other family dynamics, but a holiday in my house without drinking is a whole other challenge!)

Plan to practice sobriety ahead of time

My girlfriend and I already made fun weekend plans to look forward to so that we don’t default into going for drinks later on. Since the sun has made some appearances, our list of possibilities has expanded! We’re only going plan things for Friday and Saturday evenings only since we are mostly homebodies and likely wouldn’t do anything on weekdays anyway! So far we have a picnic, a night at the movies, and some trips to some sightseeing locations around the city. We’re both relatively new in Toronto, so things like parks or historical buildings made the list. Notice that most of these are free! And even when we spend 15$ on a movie, it seems like a worthwhile switch!

I expect making plans ahead of time will save us from temptation a few times. Not only do we have our own schedules full so that we don’t wander to the bar in our inevitable boredom, but it also gives us a reason to say no if ever we’re invited out. My girlfriend and I will invite friends to whatever we were planning that night, of course. And they often join us instead, which is the best of both worlds!

How much can practicing sobriety really save you?

We all know that in the personal finance world, consistent small efforts can make the biggest difference. I know that right now, saving a budgeted $40 is almost unnoticeable. But since I plan on continuing this annual test for the foreseeable future (and I know how substantial the aspect of time can be in finance) I decided to do the math. Assuming I rise to the estimated Canadian average of $63/month spent on booze by the time I’m 25 (please let me have average spending habits by the time I’m 25!), then I would save $2,520 from age 25 to 65 alone. And honestly, I would have been happy with the $40.

Not to mention the importance of practicing self-control and awareness! Not that any of us need reminding, but dependence can be dangerous. With a family history of addiction, this test almost gives me a well-needed piece of mind. And I have to admit, I always come out at the end of the month feeling proud. I might even try two months a year next time! In any case, practicing sobriety proves to be a great way for me to save some extra cash each year.

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About Author

A professional writing student at York University, Toronto. A newbie in the world of personal finance, but writing with MAG I've got the perfect teacher! Literary nerd, writer, and coffee enthusiast.

2 Comments

  1. Spencer Wood on

    5% is a bit too high of a number, it is closer to 2%
    maths 755/0.05= 15100 (which is too low to be an avg salary)
    Avg income based on the data you pulled being $36000~
    755/36000=0.021 or 2.1%
    Which is a much more reasonable reference without the shock value of said 5%

    All the best with the dry month
    Check out Trinity Bellwood park or high park with it being cherry blossom season its a great place to take a walk.

    Keep on writing

  2. Good for you for trying something new! It is a win win. If you find you don’t miss alchol it is well gone from your budget. If you miss it you know it is worth the money each week. Either way you learn.