The Financial Impact of Having a Drinking Problem


There are tons of health risks associated with having a drinking problem: cirrhosis of the liver, high blood pressure, cancer, infertility, hurting yourself and others, yada yada yada.  Knowing those things never stopped me from destroying my insides one drink at a time, so that’s the last thing I want to talk about right now.  What I do want to discuss is how much money I have spent on booze.  I made some brutal calculations based on a very low end of my whiskey-soaked spectrum.

On average, I went out for drinks 3 nights a week for 10 years.  I would spend about $50 a night.

$50 x 3 nights = $150 per week

$150 x 4 weeks = $600 per month

$600 x 12 months = $7200 per year

$7200 x 10 years = $72,000

Yes…you read that right…that comes out to about $72,000 on getting hammered.  You may be wondering how I could afford to drink like this.  Well, I was a full time bartender making nearly $1,000 a week in cash.  Living in Waco, Texas was cheap.  My rent was never more than $600 a month and bills were about $200 a month.  Being single with no children, my only responsibility was myself and I could barely handle that.  Sadly, $72,000 only reflects money spent going out to bars a few nights a week.

This number does not reflect the amount of money I spent on weed, Xanax, or hydrocodone in high school – before I even knew about the bar scene.

This number does not reflect the weeks where I went out more than three times.

This number does not reflect the nights when it was someone’s birthday and I bought their drinks, too.

This number does not reflect the times I “surprised” my friends with shots, so I could justify taking another one.

This number does not reflect keeping a bottle of Jack Daniels in my apartment at all times.

This number does not reflect the $10 I put in the juke box, the $15 I spent on tacos at 3am or the $20 I put towards beer for the after party.


This number does not reflect all of the Camel Turkish Silvers I bought at $5 per pack.

This number does not reflect money spent on weed, coke, ecstasy, or other party favors.

This number does not reflect the money spent on weekends in Dallas, Austin, Houston, New Orleans, Destin, or Manhattan.  I would convince myself that I was traveling to celebrate a birthday or to go on vacation, but my real incentive for these trips was just to get drunk in another city.

This number does not reflect the countless concerts and festivals I’ve bought tickets to or the $10 beers / $15 whiskey shots I consumed once I got there.

This number does not reflect the ridiculous impulse purchases made at random stores that were open after 2am.

dizzy rooster

Think of your stereotypical Spring Break experience.  That was my life for 10 years.  With all of that being said, I’ve spent well over my estimated $72,000 on getting drunk and I’m only 30 years old.  I could have bought a home.  I could have traveled the world.  I could have donated to charities.  I could have invested in mutual funds.  In order to save myself from jumping off a bridge because I spent so much money on self medicating through partying…let’s just say I gave myself an advance to fund the research for this blog.  Cheers.

Copy Editor: Alisson Wood


6 thoughts on “The Financial Impact of Having a Drinking Problem

  1. Chris

    Damn! This is a well thought out article! You are really talented and insightful! I can’t wait to meet you in NYC during Gratitude New York! Talk with you soon Tawny. Sincerely, Chris

  2. damien

    I recently leveled with a friend about how much money I’d been spending on booze for the house…just for my own consumption at home. The look on his face told me that there was no doubt about that I had a problem with booze and that I’m in the right place now, staying sober one day at a time.

  3. Jacquie

    I’ve read a couple of your posts now, and both have an undercurrent of strong self-judgment. I know this is super common with alcoholics/problem drinkers, but go easy on yourself. You have figured out a lot and you’re still relatively young. I wish you a long, healthy life.

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