Don’t Drink Yourself into Debt! Financial Consequences of Alcohol Abuse

A six-pack of tips to slash your bar tab

Financial Consequences of Alcohol AbuseWho doesn’t enjoy a cold beer or a nice glass of wine every now and then?

While alcohol is not a lifestyle choice for some people, booze is becoming a larger line item in the monthly budgets for many Canadians and there are financial consequences of alcohol abuse.

According to the latest data from Statistics Canada’s Retail Commodity Survey, spending on alcoholic beverages increased 8.8 per cent since June 2014.

Yet, while we clearly enjoy the opportunity to raise our glasses, Jeff Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, worries that this increase in alcohol spending could be leaving many Canadians with a serious financial hangover.

“There is nothing wrong with having a drink or two, but when we start relying on plastic to quench our thirst it’s time to take a step back,” says Schwartz.  “Canadians are already teetering on the edge when it comes to their finances. Spending on booze when you should be paying off debt is a solid sign that it’s time to head to budget rehab.” 

If you are planning on a night of celebration, or an evening to unwind with a libation, Schwartz and the team at Consolidated Credit offer these tips to enjoy yourself on a budget and avoid a credit hangover: 

  1. Ask about the specials. If you are at a bar or enjoying a nice meal, take the time to ask about the drink specials. Not all establishments will promote their drink specials, and it doesn’t hurt your budget to ask for a deal.
  1. Happy hour. Nothing says cheap drinks like Happy Hour. If you insist on going out for a bevvy with the boys or quick drink after work, hit up a place that has a happy hour.  Often drinks are heavily discounted, and you can enjoy yourself without taking a serious blow to the wallet.
  1. Go for water. If you are out having a goodtime with family or friends, consider alternating between water and drinks. In other words, have a drink…then have a glass of water before ordering another beverage.  Not only will you help prevent the dreaded hangover the next morning, you will also prevent the financial hangover that comes with spending too much money on a consumable good.
  1. Stay home. Restaurants and bars stay in business, in part because of the mark-up on their alcoholic beverages. So why go out and bust your budget when you can stay in and enjoy the same thing? If you’re simply looking to have a few drinks in the company of friends, why not hit your own patio and BYOB!
  1. Cash only. Let’s be honest, after a couple of drinks responsible thinking tends to fly out the window…right along with your budget. This is why most people get into financial trouble when it comes to drinking.  Next time you head out, set a cash budget and leave you debit cards and credit cards at home.  Put some money aside for a late night cab, and stop drinking when your booze budget is busted.
  1. Stay sober. If money is really an issue or debt has become a problem, make the responsible choice to not drink. The money you spend on booze is discretionary, and can be put to better use paying off your bills.  If you do want to go out, offer to be the designated driver.  Not only will you be offering your friends a safe ride home, you also may find that most bars and restaurants offer free non-alcoholic beverages to those who choose to be the DD.


If you find yourself suffering from a financial hangover that you can seem to shake, we can help! Call 1-888-294-3130 today to speak to a trained credit counsellor and find out how you can get your budget under control.  You can also try our Free Debt Analysis online and a counsellor will reach out to you.

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