45 Days Sober: $15,000

1042 days from today, I will be 30 years old (and, hopefully, 1087 days [2 years, 11 months & 21 days] sober).

I will also (hopefully) be the proud new owner of Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, well on my way toward getting my first professional license (the LPC, or Licensed Professional Counselor).

This is all very exciting. I’ve got my courses all registered, my fees and tuition paid, and my books ordered. In getting ready for the upcoming semester, I have started planning my finances for the next few months, in an effort to make sure I’m ready and there are no surprise expenses I have to deal with, especially when I have to fly down to Orlando in December (poor me!) for a week-long intensive study, the first of two I have to complete for my degree.

Doing all that number-crunching got me thinking… look at all this extra cash I have, now that i’m not drinking! I wondered how  I would’ve been trying to wiggle my budget around my drinking, if I had never quit. What kind of personal/educational financial sacrifices would I be making, just to make sure I had a “healthy” drinking budget each month?

Let’s say I decided to give sobriety the middle finger and go back to my regularly-scheduled drinking habits. In my state, let’s say that on average, a 6-pack of good (read: high ABV) craft beer costs about $10.50. On an average day, I would drink probably 3 of these beers in an evening. For the sake of simplicity and ease, I won’t even think of what I’d spend at a bar at the same consumption rate (okay, I already know, it’d be about $15—$20 per drinking session).

At the rate of 3 beers per day, for $1.75 a beer, that’s about $5.25 a day, or $37 a week gone down the drain. Over the course of a month, that’s about $160. And over the course of a year, it’s over $1,900… $1,900 spent on booze! And that’s the most conservative estimate I’ve got!

Now, $5.25 might not seem like a lot… but over the course of 1042 days, that adds up to $5470.50.

By simply refusing to buy that six-pack, I’m putting over $5k back in my pocket. I’m saving my hard-earned money, my hard-earned health, and my hard-earned sanity. And I don’t even have to do anything different, aside from never, ever picking up another drink again. 

And okay, just for the wow-factor of it, by not going to the bar and spending $5 per pint for 3 pints each night, I’m saving a whopping $15,630 over the course of 3 years.

That’s right, over $15k – BOOM. Saved by sobriety.

That’s to say, if I were going out nightly and spending a bare minimum of $15 for a session of drinking (which let’s be honest, there are taxes, and rarely ever does it only involve drinks – gotta be mindful of the food added in, too), I’d be spending around $100 weekly, or $400 monthly, or over $5k yearly (and to reiterate, $15k over the course of 3 years) just to get fucked up at a place that isn’t my own home.

What the actual fuck.

Do you know what you can get with $15k?!

You can get a small down-payment on a modest but reasonable first-home – or a condo, perhaps.

Maybe an amazing, month-long trip through Europe, with extra cash left over at the end. Or a two-month, All-American road trip from one coast to the other.

You can buy a very nice used car upfront, no financing required with $15k (my current car, a 2009 Honda Fit, was $12k financed!).

You can buy yourself out of some of your own student debt, or credit card debt, with $15k.

You can buy a decent new wardrobe, 5 times over.

You can start a great college savings plan for the kids.

You can get a big head-start on an aggressive retirement savings plan if you’re young, or add to what you’ve already got if you’re ahead of the game.

Or, on the flip side where drinking is still the reality, you can buy yourself shit physical health, shit relationships, shit mental and emotional health, shit memory, and years of therapy to undo the pain you’ve put yourself through, all for $15k (and probably much more, when all’s said and done).

…just for that first sip of booze, the euphoria of which only lasts for 20 or so minutes. Everything that comes after is simply a waste of your time, energy, money, health, life.

That’s a damn expensive 20 minutes, if I do say so myself.

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