Does your savings have a drinking problem?
It’s Friday night and it’s been a long week. We rendezvous at our local and have some pints. Feeling all relaxed, we head to our favourite night club and, “OPEN BOTTLE”. Oh how we used to enjoy saying those words. Chivas, Grey Goose, Mac Allan, Dom Perignon, 3 litre Martell Cordon Bleus, 6 litre Belvederes. You name it, we’ve ordered it, and polished it clean.
I probably had my first drink at the ripe old age of 14 years old. I swiped a bottle of Cognac from my dad’s liquor cabinet and brought to school to share with my mates. No belligerent drinking, just sipping on it like hot soup to see what the effects would be. Innocent (somewhat) fun. Fast forward a few years and the drinking was a lot more regular and volumes were far larger. All this on a meagre allowance. I knew I had a problem, but I didn’t know how to get out of it.
One of the hardest things to do is breaking a habit. They say it takes 21 days to fully make or break a habit. I was only drinking on weekends so technically it wasn’t a habit or a problem (so I thought). I mean it was just every Friday and Saturday. And after a long week of studying/working, I deserved it. I should be rewarded. Besides, can’t be that wrong if my circle of friends and millions of others around the world are doing it too.
How ridiculous is that? I was studying and drinking was such a huge part of my lifestyle. I wasn’t earning an income, I was supposed to be shovelling knowledge into my head, but I spent so much time guzzling down all forms of alcohol in the company of my best mates. I would wake up most days post drinks and say the famous words uttered all over the world by hungover individuals, “I’m never drinking again”. But a few hours later, after the sun goes down, the drinks get filled. In Uni I was drinking almost every other day. All of this on allowances and minimal wages from small essay writing/proof reading jobs.
“Hey let’s have a pint after work”, “Let’s get a bottle of champagne to celebrate”, “Oh I need to loosen up”, “Have a drink, you’ll feel better”, “What do you mean you don’t drink?" Do these sound familiar to you? We live in a world where the most addictive and accessible drug is looked at as a catalyst for celebration, necessity to get through adulthood, and company for the sad. Why though? Why is it of such importance?
Large global companies I’ve worked at you can see it on job advertisement too, work drinks is apparently something cool. Now let’s switch it to work smokes. Ganja. Marijuana. Weed. Dank. Dope. Bud. Herb. What would you think about that? “Well ganja is illegal so hell no”. Sure, but you can’t overdose on it. Whereas alcohol could turn you into a very different person, make you do ugly things, and you could die from over consumption. Global billion-dollar companies advertise this as a reason to join their company? “Great company culture including weekly drinks”, ludicrous.
Countless amounts of times I thought to myself, “Maybe I should quit it altogether”. But then a call or text would come through and before you know it I’ll be on my 2nd pint. I’d even start speaking to my mates about it and we would come to the conclusion that there was absolutely nothing else to do, and that’s why we would drink. “What else are you going to do on a Friday night, play scrabble”? Oh how much richer I would have been had I taken that route.
Eventually it became a routine and I almost have a schedule of whom to meet and when. This friend is my weekday buddy because he works close by, this is my Friday crew, and this is my Saturday party fam.
One day came along and I was looking for a new apartment to move into. I was paying about $250 a week in rent. For the uninitiated, that’s on the mid-range in Sydney/Melbourne for a room in a share house. I would search within a range of $230-$280. Any lower and the quality of rooms weren’t great and any higher was just too costly (so I thought).
It was a Friday night and I was out with mates and I paid for a round of pints which was somewhere in the range of $50. That wasn’t going to be the last round I bought that night. But while waiting for the glasses to be filled I thought, “I’m not willing to go up to $300 a week on rent, but I’m so happy to spend $50 on something I am literally, not figuratively, going to piss away later”. WHAT? Huh? How does this even make sense? I went through the night with the thought in my head and eventually had one too many to care and went home.
I woke up the next day and started counting how much I actually spent. It was ab-so-lute-ly ridonculous! I was spending upwards of $200 a week on “casual drinks”. Quite happy to do that but not pay $300 on rent to get a nicer spot. I did the whole monthly and annual calculations and it was just scary. And then I looked up my bank balance and it was just a joke. I was earning upwards of $1,000 a week and a third was to supplement my drinking habit. How foolish of me.
Then I made an even scarier realization. I was just paying in money, but time too. I would spend hours drinking and hours recovering from said drinks. Did the whole monthly and annual calculation and was astonished. If you drank from 6pm to 12am (6hours) on Friday and Saturday, slept in for an additional 1 hours on Saturday and Sunday, in a year (you are definitely not ready for this), you’d have spent over a MONTH of your year drinking. And let’s be serious, it often goes later than 12am. I was 30. If I was doing this since I was 18, that’s easily over a year of my life drinking. Just think about it, one year, full-time, 24 hours a day 7 days a week of just pummelling myself with alcohol.
I then did 1 more calculation just to seal it. Hours in a year, 8,760. If I paid $15 for a drink and had one every hour (very conservative numbers), my cost of alcohol was $131,400. My bank balance was a couple of zeros shy of that number above. And you know what, even if it wasn’t, it’s still ridiculous to think I’ve spent the price of a small home on something I’ve literally flushed down the toilet.
So I decided that I wasn’t going to drink anymore. But then it was my mate’s birthday. Then there was a work function. And another birthday. And then the champions league final. One after another there were reasons to have a drink. Though I greatly reduced it, I was still doing it. And before I knew it I had one of those long sessions of multiple pints. It was the first day of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The next day I stopped drinking. Not a glass, not a drop. Nothing. And surprisingly, it wasn’t that difficult at all. My brain was already wired to tell myself that this was no longer required in my life. I had to constantly explain to my mates why and I didn’t want to seem like that guy that found something good and was preaching so I started with “health reasons” and went on to straight up saying “I don’t like it anymore”.
It’s been over 2 years now and I am so happy that I’ve made the change. I feel better, have more time to do other things and most importantly, I’m not wasting my money (one last time) LITERALLY pouring it down the drain. Now I’m not saying you should stop drinking. Start by doing the math. If you’re happy with the results and your bank balance, sure. If you’re not, make a change. So what if people stop calling you. If they only did that because you were a drinking buddy, so be it. You’ve got to look after yourself. Disregard what haters have to say.
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Author: Akash Devasar & Co. | We speak numbers | https://www.adevasar.com