Author Topic: How do I stop wasting money at bars?  (Read 37954 times)

DebtDerp

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How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« on: March 20, 2013, 05:48:09 PM »
Alright mustachians I need your sage advice. In the last three months I have really cut down on my bad habits. I pack my own lunch to work every day. I broke up with cable. I stopped ordering books from amazon on a regular basis. I changed my eating habits from quick and expensive frozen foods to homemade meals. I have not been to Starbucks once this year.

So far I feel great about these changes and they really havenít been that hard. However, there is one habit that I seem unable to change. I still spend way too much money when I head out to the bars with friends. Two or three times a month my friends and I get together and I will easily drop $50, $60, or $70 on food and beverages. This past Saturday my tab came to a Benjamin.

So I know my trigger point is going to the bars with friends. I order a beer and then another, and then another. Before you know it Iím getting food as well. Then we head to another bar and I order a pitcher, round of drinks, more food, etc. I rationalize this by telling myself that I deserve to have a good night out. I work hard and donít get to see my friends that often.

I know, I knowÖ crazy. The problem is that I donít want to stop going out with my friends. I really don't get to see them that often as I work long, long hours every week. I am hoping you guys can help me out with the happy medium of being social while still being frugal. I've tried the nursing the beer thing, but that usually only lasts about one drink. I've tried not ordering food but then somebody orders food anyways and when the bill comes we all ďagreeĒ to split it.

My friends know that I am trying to live more frugally and pay down my massive debts but it doesn't always translate very well. We all pretty much come from upper middle class families so we are trying to make the transition from a comfortable paid-for lifestyle to our own lives where most of us donít have the disposable income to maintain the same lifestyle our parents provided. I've chosen the mustachian path while most others just live beyond their means or still on their parentís dime.

All I want is the best of both worlds, thatís not too much to ask right? :) So give it to me straight, I know the habit is bad and my rationalization is stupid but now how do I change?

momo

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2013, 05:57:55 PM »
Do you meet your friends in the daytime more or afterwork at night? I use to meet friends afterwork and interestingly enough, we drank and ate during happy hour. Awesome, except it really was not when I look at how it was hurting me financially. Because I chose to go to happy hour I did not save more. Nowadays, I meet friends for healthy activities that do not involve any bars and happy hours. In fact now I cringe when I hear the suggestion, lets go to happy hour and simple excuse myself. Your situation may vary but I find happy hour was not great for me healthwise. The food really is not healthy and frankly tasted terrible over the years.

Also now it helps that most of my friends are coupled and/or have children, so we have partners that enjoy creating meals to share. You mileage may vary but one motivator I would encourage is to look at how the specific activity impacts your personal health and financial goals. Keep us posted. Cheers!

DebtDerp

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2013, 06:09:00 PM »
Do you meet your friends in the daytime more or afterwork at night? I use to meet friends afterwork and interestingly enough, we drank and ate during happy hour. Awesome, except it really was not when I look at how it was hurting me financially. Because I chose to go to happy hour I did not save more. Nowadays, I meet friends for healthy activities that do not involve any bars and happy hours. In fact now I cringe when I hear the suggestion, lets go to happy hour and simple excuse myself. Your situation may vary but I find happy hour was not great for me healthwise. The food really is not healthy and frankly tasted terrible over the years.

Also now it helps that most of my friends are coupled and/or have children, so we have partners that enjoy creating meals to share. You mileage may vary but one motivator I would encourage is to look at how the specific activity impacts your personal health and financial goals. Keep us posted. Cheers!

Yeah it's all happy hours for me! My typical work week is around 60 hours and so I usually will hit up friends for a Saturday happy hour every other week or so depending on work load. I have all of the motivation in the world to change this habit when I'm not at the bar, but once that first taste of cold, delicious craft brew touches my lips I forget about all that motivation.

I definitely know what you are saying about other activities, and I suggest those as well. But with varying schedules is always easiest to just meet up at the bar Saturday night.

easton

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2013, 06:32:41 PM »
Replace craft brew with cheap domestic?? Not sure where you reside, but around me you can usually get pitchers of Yuengling/bud/coors/natty light for $5-7. That could cut the bill down some. Or if you live in a high cost of living city, definitely got to pre game before the bar to cut down on ordered drinks.

I know some mustachians would rather go back into debt then drink another bud/coors/miller or *gulp* natty light again :p so please no hate.

Russ

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2013, 06:41:11 PM »
Might your friends be down for getting together a couple times a month to cook and homebrew? You can make a hell of a lot of beer for 100 bucks. Actually doing something rather than just sitting at a bar will probably make you all closer friends as well.

Hotstreak

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2013, 06:52:29 PM »
That's a lot of cash!  I know what you're talking about because I used to spend that much too.  The great news is you have nothing to worry about, you can have a great time with your friends at the bar, get drunk, eat, and spend less money.

Have your first few beers be those great craft brews you love so much.  Really enjoy the flavor, then switch to something cheaper.  Whether that is the Daily Special mixed drink or the House Special $2.00 Bud Lite, it will probably be half the price of the other one.  "If all I ever drink is great beer, I don't appreciate how good it is anymore.  By drinking this trash, I appreciate better beer more when I DO have it". Your friends will understand, or maybe you can tell them you want chest hair so you're drinking more cheap whisky.

Order more drinks at cheap places and fewer drinks at nicer places.  Enjoy the atmosphere at the nicer place and have one, but if you know you're going to another bar in an hour.. where they have cheap drinks, save it for them.  Same goes for food.  Find a good dish everybody likes such as Nachos or Sliders and steer your group to the cheap place when it's getting close to food time.

Another trick is when people go to order expensive food or split a few pitchers of beer, take a minute to go talk to another group or throw some quarters in a pool table or arcade machine.  My friends know I like talking to girls so if I step away to go do that, nobody is surprised.  As long as your friends do not have you tied to a leash!

MooreBonds

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2013, 06:59:13 PM »
Do you meet your friends in the daytime more or afterwork at night? I use to meet friends afterwork and interestingly enough, we drank and ate during happy hour. Awesome, except it really was not when I look at how it was hurting me financially. Because I chose to go to happy hour I did not save more. Nowadays, I meet friends for healthy activities that do not involve any bars and happy hours. In fact now I cringe when I hear the suggestion, lets go to happy hour and simple excuse myself. Your situation may vary but I find happy hour was not great for me healthwise. The food really is not healthy and frankly tasted terrible over the years.

Also now it helps that most of my friends are coupled and/or have children, so we have partners that enjoy creating meals to share. You mileage may vary but one motivator I would encourage is to look at how the specific activity impacts your personal health and financial goals. Keep us posted. Cheers!

Yeah it's all happy hours for me! My typical work week is around 60 hours and so I usually will hit up friends for a Saturday happy hour every other week or so depending on work load. I have all of the motivation in the world to change this habit when I'm not at the bar, but once that first taste of cold, delicious craft brew touches my lips I forget about all that motivation.

I definitely know what you are saying about other activities, and I suggest those as well. But with varying schedules is always easiest to just meet up at the bar Saturday night.

--How about packing something to eat right before you leave work? It doesn't have to be an all-out meal - perhaps just a badass snack, so you only have to order a salad or something small at the bar to go with a few drinks?
--To go along with the above, what if you fill your stomach up with water/some other beverage before meeting up with your friends (non-alcoholic)? True, your body will process the liquid eventually, but at least it'll slow you down on that first drink. :)
--Leave your credit card in the car/at home, and only bring in $40 in cash to the bar with you. Hard to spend money you don't have!

If your friends ask 'what's up?', just tell them "I'm watching my wallet as well as my waistline, and need to cut back in both areas of my life" (which is mostly the truth). If you put it that way, as opposed to "I want to save more", they might be less jealous/envious/snarky with the former compared to the latter.

But allow yourself to splurge every now and then, because as many have observed, drinking and eating the really fine stuff all the time makes it just 'blah'....and if you always deprive yourself of it, you're more likely to fall completely off the wagon.

LizzyBee

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2013, 07:53:51 PM »
Can you invite your friends over to your place? I feel like I rarely go out with friends anymore. We all just take turns inviting each other over and having a pot-luck type of meal and then everyone brings a 6 pack or bottle of wine depending on preference. Some of your friends may even be grateful (eventually) that you broke the habit of expensive nights at the bar. Of course, it sounds like I'm in a slightly different stage than you are. I'm married, in my early 30s, and have a son. For my group of friends, going out every weekend changed a few years ago when we all started buying homes.

DebtDerp

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2013, 08:23:02 PM »
Replace craft brew with cheap domestic?? Not sure where you reside, but around me you can usually get pitchers of Yuengling/bud/coors/natty light for $5-7. That could cut the bill down some. Or if you live in a high cost of living city, definitely got to pre game before the bar to cut down on ordered drinks.

That's a lot of cash!  I know what you're talking about because I used to spend that much too.  The great news is you have nothing to worry about, you can have a great time with your friends at the bar, get drunk, eat, and spend less money.

Have your first few beers be those great craft brews you love so much.  Really enjoy the flavor, then switch to something cheaper.  Whether that is the Daily Special mixed drink or the House Special $2.00 Bud Lite, it will probably be half the price of the other one.  "If all I ever drink is great beer, I don't appreciate how good it is anymore.  By drinking this trash, I appreciate better beer more when I DO have it". Your friends will understand, or maybe you can tell them you want chest hair so you're drinking more cheap whisky.

Order more drinks at cheap places and fewer drinks at nicer places.  Enjoy the atmosphere at the nicer place and have one, but if you know you're going to another bar in an hour.. where they have cheap drinks, save it for them.  Same goes for food.  Find a good dish everybody likes such as Nachos or Sliders and steer your group to the cheap place when it's getting close to food time.

Another trick is when people go to order expensive food or split a few pitchers of beer, take a minute to go talk to another group or throw some quarters in a pool table or arcade machine.  My friends know I like talking to girls so if I step away to go do that, nobody is surprised.  As long as your friends do not have you tied to a leash!

Good tip, I usually shift to PBR or Rainier later in the night when I am a few beers in... At that point it usually evolves into trading buying pitchers for the group. So avoid doing that and go for sliders instead of some artisan pizza crap. I think just going to the bar to order my drinks instead of getting on the tab at the table will be a useful way to combat the "split tab."

Might your friends be down for getting together a couple times a month to cook and homebrew? You can make a hell of a lot of beer for 100 bucks. Actually doing something rather than just sitting at a bar will probably make you all closer friends as well.

Can you invite your friends over to your place? I feel like I rarely go out with friends anymore. We all just take turns inviting each other over and having a pot-luck type of meal and then everyone brings a 6 pack or bottle of wine depending on preference. Some of your friends may even be grateful (eventually) that you broke the habit of expensive nights at the bar. Of course, it sounds like I'm in a slightly different stage than you are. I'm married, in my early 30s, and have a son. For my group of friends, going out every weekend changed a few years ago when we all started buying homes.

Great tips on doing stuff at home instead of the bars! We actually already do this. Usually at least one Sunday each month someone will host for the night and we will just bring our own beer. This happens more in the summer though. I really enjoy this because I like to cook, but also I like hitting up the bars. You meet knew people, get out of the house, check out new places, etc. I would love to try my hand at home-brewing but I don't think I have the time to devote to it or the space :/

--How about packing something to eat right before you leave work? It doesn't have to be an all-out meal - perhaps just a badass snack, so you only have to order a salad or something small at the bar to go with a few drinks?
--To go along with the above, what if you fill your stomach up with water/some other beverage before meeting up with your friends (non-alcoholic)? True, your body will process the liquid eventually, but at least it'll slow you down on that first drink. :)
--Leave your credit card in the car/at home, and only bring in $40 in cash to the bar with you. Hard to spend money you don't have!

If your friends ask 'what's up?', just tell them "I'm watching my wallet as well as my waistline, and need to cut back in both areas of my life" (which is mostly the truth). If you put it that way, as opposed to "I want to save more", they might be less jealous/envious/snarky with the former compared to the latter.

But allow yourself to splurge every now and then, because as many have observed, drinking and eating the really fine stuff all the time makes it just 'blah'....and if you always deprive yourself of it, you're more likely to fall completely off the wagon.

Yeah this is a good tip. I often will work late and then head straight to the bar and just have my dinner there. That adds a lot of expense to the night. Plus the water idea is good too, I could try ordering a glass of water with each drink and before I order another finish both. Theoretically that would take longer so I would be spending less over the night, plus drinking plenty of water is the best way to combat a hangover! It's funny, when I talked to my friends about trying to not drink so much and save some money through a strategy of nursing my beers they all gave me a hard time (playfully). I guess I have been know to put a few back :0

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2013, 08:34:43 PM »
I have the same problem but not nearly to the same extent.  I spend probably ~$30/week at a bar 2 or 3 times.  It's just annoying because I have one of the highest incomes in my group of friends (only about the national average), but I spend close to the least.  There are some really close friends who I have no problem going out with and spending a bit more money.  But it's the people who are just casual friends that make me wonder if it's worth it.

As I've cut costs in other areas, this area perks up a bit more.  When I was spending $640 on my apartment, and $1600 total per month, it's much easier to justify $100/month(6.25%) to bars.  But when you've dropped expenses to $500/$1100 (my roommate take on/off months for paying rent), justifying 20% of your expenses in one unnecessary category is much more difficult.  I look at it as a good problem to have.

DebtDerp

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2013, 08:48:55 PM »
I have the same problem but not nearly to the same extent.  I spend probably ~$30/week at a bar 2 or 3 times.  It's just annoying because I have one of the highest incomes in my group of friends (only about the national average), but I spend close to the least.  There are some really close friends who I have no problem going out with and spending a bit more money.  But it's the people who are just casual friends that make me wonder if it's worth it.

As I've cut costs in other areas, this area perks up a bit more.  When I was spending $640 on my apartment, and $1600 total per month, it's much easier to justify $100/month(6.25%) to bars.  But when you've dropped expenses to $500/$1100 (my roommate take on/off months for paying rent), justifying 20% of your expenses in one unnecessary category is much more difficult.  I look at it as a good problem to have.

I feel you on this. I make more than my friends and there could be some factor there where they might judge me for not spending as much at the bars as they do. I don't really think this happens but I do get the social pressure to spend when I am out drinking. And your right, my discretionary spending has dropped dramatically so now I have a hard time justifying $100 to $200 in restaurants and bars each month. I would be pretty happy with spending $30 when I go out, now I just need to make it happen and keep it to that.

AlexK

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2013, 09:34:23 PM »
My local microbrewery has "tightwad Tuesday" where pints of awesome beer are $2.50. I will order a pint and chips and salsa for $4 and be feeling good until I get home for dinner. I'm not ashamed of being a tightwad though and all my friends know it. I'm in my late 30's but some of my friends are in their 20's and grad students so they are poor and spending like I am anyway.

At home I drink cheap canned beer, right now it's Rolling Rock but I buy whatever is really cheap at Wal-Mart by the 30 pack. I really do appreciate the good beer more when it is for special occasions only.

tongzhi

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2013, 10:02:44 PM »
Once you're actually at the bar, you're toast, because at that point what's the sense in resisting?

I have the same problem with just going out in general. Before I know it, $50 or $100 is gone for dinner, drinks, etc.

Well the only real solution I've found is to change the group of people I hang out with, and go out less often. Ideally there would be a big clan of Mustachians in every city, but that's really idealistic. Following a path like Mustachianism puts you in a very unique niche of people and unfortunately you won't always fit in the same kind of company you did before, you're going to have to alter your relationship with them and spend less time with them if you don't want to keep absorbing their habits.

If we are the company we keep... well, you know how that ends.

fimoc

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2013, 10:37:41 PM »
I know, I knowÖ crazy. The problem is that I donít want to stop going out with my friends ... We all pretty much come from upper middle class families so we are trying to make the transition from a comfortable paid-for lifestyle to our own lives where most of us donít have the disposable income to maintain the same lifestyle our parents provided.

The fact that you said this means you have already taken a massive step towards succes, IMO.  If you want to read more about this effect, The Millionaire Next Door is a $3 e-book that talks exactly about the disparities in people who feel they need to maintain the lifestyle of their parents (and a few other things).

While it's probably not what you wanted to hear, I end up in the same boat as tongzhi:

you're going to have to alter your relationship with them and spend less time with them if you don't want to keep absorbing their habits.

If we are the company we keep... well, you know how that ends.

I've started being very up-front with people and saying very nicely that I'm a frugal person and will only get water if they want to spend time out with me.  At first it was awkward because I felt that nagging of status-driven, suburbia life, but after a few years I got over it.  If people don't want to spend time with you, then how much do you want to spend time around them?  My answer became "very little" after I was able to separate my own wants from societal pressures.

DebtDerp, I give you serious props for staring down your situation the way you have - no beating around the bush!  Definitely some badassity if you as me!

arebelspy

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2013, 07:27:05 AM »
Go read the latest post on ERE: http://earlyretirementextreme.com/do-i-think-asian-do-you.html

Now think about changing your environment. 

Don't meet you friends at bars, and you won't have trouble with spending money at bars.

Meet them elsewhere, and hang out and do other things. 

You don't have to solve the problem of trying to cut back at the bar, because the problem itself is gone by changing the environment (see: ice cream example from that article).
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Kierun

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #15 on: March 21, 2013, 07:57:26 AM »
Is not drinking an option?  When I went strict paleo for a bit, I still went out with friends to bars and such but just had water and still had a great time.  Maybe every other get together drink water/cola.  It was tough because I love my booze and yeah the guys gave me shit for a bit, but that faded quickly. 

jrhampt

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #16 on: March 21, 2013, 08:47:17 AM »
I do enjoy a good happy hour, myself.  What I tend to do, though, is look for places with great specials - so if a group of friends suggests a happy hour, I steer them away from the place with no specials and toward the place with the $2 fondue and $5 mussels, the place with the free happy hour buffet, or the place where the entire menu is half off at happy hour.  I try to keep it to once or twice a month for the sake of my waistline and limit the cocktails to 1 or 2 only.  By looking for the good specials you may be able to cut your tab in half or more.  I don't mind going out every now and then if it only comes to $20 vs. $50.

DebtDerp

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2013, 10:22:22 AM »
My local microbrewery has "tightwad Tuesday" where pints of awesome beer are $2.50. I will order a pint and chips and salsa for $4 and be feeling good until I get home for dinner. I'm not ashamed of being a tightwad though and all my friends know it. I'm in my late 30's but some of my friends are in their 20's and grad students so they are poor and spending like I am anyway.

At home I drink cheap canned beer, right now it's Rolling Rock but I buy whatever is really cheap at Wal-Mart by the 30 pack. I really do appreciate the good beer more when it is for special occasions only.

Yeah, not sure if I will find anything under four bucks around here but I will try and branch out a bit more. I remember when I was in Denver getting a PBR and a Taco for $3 on Thursday nights... those were the days.

Once you're actually at the bar, you're toast, because at that point what's the sense in resisting?

I have the same problem with just going out in general. Before I know it, $50 or $100 is gone for dinner, drinks, etc.

Well the only real solution I've found is to change the group of people I hang out with, and go out less often. Ideally there would be a big clan of Mustachians in every city, but that's really idealistic. Following a path like Mustachianism puts you in a very unique niche of people and unfortunately you won't always fit in the same kind of company you did before, you're going to have to alter your relationship with them and spend less time with them if you don't want to keep absorbing their habits.

If we are the company we keep... well, you know how that ends.

Are you telling me I can't have my cake and eat it too? :) I totally get what you are saying, the thing is that I would have no problem spending $20 or $30 to go out with my friends, its the nights where I'm blowing through c-notes that get to me. You're right the self control just heads for the door once I walk in the bar.

The fact that you said this means you have already taken a massive step towards succes, IMO.  If you want to read more about this effect, The Millionaire Next Door is a $3 e-book that talks exactly about the disparities in people who feel they need to maintain the lifestyle of their parents (and a few other things).

While it's probably not what you wanted to hear, I end up in the same boat as tongzhi:

I've started being very up-front with people and saying very nicely that I'm a frugal person and will only get water if they want to spend time out with me.  At first it was awkward because I felt that nagging of status-driven, suburbia life, but after a few years I got over it.  If people don't want to spend time with you, then how much do you want to spend time around them?  My answer became "very little" after I was able to separate my own wants from societal pressures.

DebtDerp, I give you serious props for staring down your situation the way you have - no beating around the bush!  Definitely some badassity if you as me!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think you are telling me to go out and break up with my friends but that as the priorities in our lives diverge we are naturally going to drift apart. I'm ok with that. I think I may need to be a little more vocal about how dramatically I have been shifting my spending habits, maybe then my friends will 'get it'.

Go read the latest post on ERE: http://earlyretirementextreme.com/do-i-think-asian-do-you.html

Now think about changing your environment. 

Don't meet you friends at bars, and you won't have trouble with spending money at bars.

Meet them elsewhere, and hang out and do other things. 

You don't have to solve the problem of trying to cut back at the bar, because the problem itself is gone by changing the environment (see: ice cream example from that article).

Yes, I read that post yesterday and was thinking about this. I'm still holding out hope that I can have the best of both worlds. I do enjoy going to the bars and I don't have a problem spending some money there. Maybe a good solution would be only bringing in $30 in cash and leaving the credit cards at home like MooreBonds mentioned, then I would really be forcing the issue.

Is not drinking an option?  When I went strict paleo for a bit, I still went out with friends to bars and such but just had water and still had a great time.  Maybe every other get together drink water/cola.  It was tough because I love my booze and yeah the guys gave me shit for a bit, but that faded quickly. 

Not an option for me, haha. I gotta have my IPA's!

I do enjoy a good happy hour, myself.  What I tend to do, though, is look for places with great specials - so if a group of friends suggests a happy hour, I steer them away from the place with no specials and toward the place with the $2 fondue and $5 mussels, the place with the free happy hour buffet, or the place where the entire menu is half off at happy hour.  I try to keep it to once or twice a month for the sake of my waistline and limit the cocktails to 1 or 2 only.  By looking for the good specials you may be able to cut your tab in half or more.  I don't mind going out every now and then if it only comes to $20 vs. $50.

I think this is a big point, we need to start going to places with cheaper food. Oftentimes my group of friends want to go to the new hip and happening places whereas I don't give two shits where we go. I will try and start steering them towards the cheaper places, we'll see how that goes.


Thanks for the tips everyone! I think I will have a better handle on my spending the next time I go out and will let you guys know how it goes. If you're ever in Seattle let's get a drink!

kisserofsinners

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2013, 10:22:49 AM »
A flask, and buy your snacks and mini bottles refills at a corner store VS the bar's kitchen.

I went years with my flask, corner store refills, and those pocket "food things". Much cheaper than 5 drinks, pizza, and nachos at the bar. Over time we can work on changing the behavior or talking your friends over from the dark side. ;o)
« Last Edit: March 21, 2013, 10:28:23 AM by kisserofsinners »

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2013, 12:11:33 PM »
What about being the designated drive and using that as your excuse not to drink? You can free soda from the bar if you are the designated driver. I find it's easier to have zero drinks than it is to have a couple when you're out for the night.

I've gone out and not drank. I was in the induction phase of a diet and no drinking was allowed. Most people understand. Those that don't, well I don't really care.
Normally if I had a glass of water or a diet soda in my hand, people wouldn't say anything. They just assume they were mixed drinks.

If you don't get drunk it'll be easier to not buy a ton of food you don't need.

the fixer

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #20 on: March 21, 2013, 12:20:55 PM »
It sounds like your biggest problem is self-control. Sure, you can stop going to bars but then you're just avoiding the problem, and possibly suffering for it by having it impact your social life.

Try this: next time you go to a bar, only bring $20 with you in cash, more than enough for a beer, an appetizer, and tip. Leave your credit cards behind. This should force you to think about how much you're spending, and if it doesn't you'll look mighty sheepish when you have to borrow from your friends to cover the tab. That should be a powerful incentive not to overspend.

smedleyb

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #21 on: March 21, 2013, 12:41:30 PM »
Smoke a little weed before you meet up, then just drink water the rest of the time.

Works for me.

kisserofsinners

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #22 on: March 21, 2013, 01:06:51 PM »
Smoke a little weed before you meet up, then just drink water the rest of the time.

Works for me.
2nded, but it doesn't work for everyone.

momo

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #23 on: March 21, 2013, 01:36:33 PM »
It sounds like your biggest problem is self-control. Sure, you can stop going to bars but then you're just avoiding the problem, and possibly suffering for it by having it impact your social life.

Try this: next time you go to a bar, only bring $20 with you in cash, more than enough for a beer, an appetizer, and tip. Leave your credit cards behind. This should force you to think about how much you're spending, and if it doesn't you'll look mighty sheepish when you have to borrow from your friends to cover the tab. That should be a powerful incentive not to overspend.

I concur and second the idea only bring the budgeted amount of $20 cash, that's it. It definitely sounds like you need to develop more restraint. It's not easy but forced self discipline might be needed in your situation. Also if your friends are true friends (and not fair weather friends) then they won't care if you get together in daylight, have gatherings at each others places, in parks, and basically bring your own healthier foods and booze. The choice is yours. Let us know how it goes.

I feel eventually your financial goals will separate you from your friends in time because not everyone will want to save more to retire early. As such, in time life will happen and as you mentioned "drifting" will happen. Good luck. Cheers!

tongzhi

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #24 on: March 21, 2013, 02:54:45 PM »
The whole thing about self control and restraint is that it doesn't recognize the reality that once you're in a bar, in that environment and with several of your friends chugging down $9 drinks, your self control is like a telephone pole against an 800 foot tsunami.

You're in an environment where you're supposed to drink and get wasted, and if you don't you're missing out on a big part of the reason to be there in the first place. Either you embrace that this part of your life is not going to be Mustachian, or you need to cut back on going out in the first place and not be in a situation where you're forced to make futile resistance attempts.

At some point in your life, you will be too old to go out to bars at this pace, so if you enjoy this, well maybe that's ok for now? Just be aware of what you're spending and keep it at a level that still allows you to achieve your Mustachian early retirement goals.

the fixer

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #25 on: March 21, 2013, 03:30:54 PM »
You're in an environment where you're supposed to drink and get wasted, and if you don't you're missing out on a big part of the reason to be there in the first place. Either you embrace that this part of your life is not going to be Mustachian, or you need to cut back on going out in the first place and not be in a situation where you're forced to make futile resistance attempts.

You can totally go to a bar once in a while and not spend a lot of money. Last Friday for St. Patrick's Day I was at a bar and got one Guinness, then split an appetizer. I nursed the beer a while and really got to enjoy it. If I wasn't driving I might have been tempted to bully someone into doing a carbomb with me :) That's the maximum possible bartab I would run up, even on a special occasion.

How you operate in a bar is mostly driven by unconscious habit. If you have bad habits all is not lost; you just need a ton of conscious self-control to set a new pattern. You also need to recognize when you are being pressured into sticking to your habits (friends egging you for one more drink) and actively resist. The easiest way to do this is with an external constraint, which is why I suggested carrying limited cash.

smalllife

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #26 on: March 21, 2013, 03:35:01 PM »
Go to the bars during happy hour ($1 or $2 drinks) and load up before the special expires.  You don't have to drink them all at once, but if you have a table they will get you a good ways through the night.  This works for rails though, not beers.  Or find restaurants with cheap pitchers of beers (trivia nights, etc. - where it's about the drinks but not getting wasted).

JoshuaSpodek

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #27 on: March 21, 2013, 03:50:27 PM »
Is this thread magically appearing from some web page unrelated to Mr. Money Mustache?

How do you not spend too much money on unnecessary things?

You asked to give it to you straight, so here you go.

DON'T BUY THEM.

But you want to hang out with your friends?

So hang out with your friends and don't buy beer you don't need or want. Don't agree to split the bill for food you didn't eat. Don't eat food you don't want to pay for.

You think that's too hard?

What would MMM say? I'm not him so I don't know for sure, but I suspect the words complainypants and face punch would show up.

If you're old enough to drink, you're a grown adult able to make decisions on your own. If your friends decide they want to drink, that doesn't mean you have to. Take responsibility for your actions. You aren't helpless. People go out without drinking all the time.

Yes, it is that easy. It's only hard if you think it's hard. Go out with your friends and don't drink. Do you need alcohol to have fun? Do you need to do what they do to be a part of the group?

Sorry if tough love is a hard pill to swallow, but I feel like that's what brought us to this community.

DON'T BUY THINGS YOU DON'T NEED IF YOU DON'T WANT TO SPEND THE MONEY.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2013, 03:53:02 PM by JoshuaSpodek »

EMP

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #28 on: March 21, 2013, 03:52:47 PM »
I was wondering how long it would take for someone to mention the flask idea.  Dram shop laws being what they are, I wouldn't feel comfortable jeopardizing a small business owner's livelihood by bringing a flask in.  A big corporate bar, maybe, but someone's still losing their job if it comes out. 

matchewed

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #29 on: March 21, 2013, 03:58:00 PM »
What is your living situation like. Maybe a bi-weekly BBQ? It's cheaper to buy/brew beer and have a potluck bbq where people just bring stuff to cook on the grill.

Don't know how that'd work out for the winters but it'll work all through spring, summer, and fall.

DebtDerp

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #30 on: March 21, 2013, 04:35:11 PM »
Wow, great conversation going on here. Thanks everyone. Instead of quoting I will just respond to each user.

@kisserofsonners & @EMP

I donít think the flask is for me. I followed Joe from NMHD when he did it and it seemed to work great for him! For some reason I feel like I would be stealing from the bar if I did that though, plus I prefer beer to whiskey.

@freelancerNfulltimer

I wish I could be DD! That would solve all of my problemsÖ but I donít own a car and walk wherever I go.

@the fixer & @Stashtastic Momo & @tonghzi

Yep, this is the heart of it. I just need to have self-control when I walk into the bars. If I canít keep my spending under control in the bars then I need to stop going to them altogether. I will remember this.

@smedleyb

Weed is not for meÖ

@the fixer

Thanks for sharing the story of St. Paddyís day. This is the kind of drinking I want to evolve to, having one or two drinks while still being social and enjoying time with my friends. You, have got it figured it out.

@smalllife

If I could find a bar that had beers under four bucks I would be all over that! Where is this land of $1 and $2 drinks? I may be moving soonÖ.. ;)

@JoshuaSpodek

Iím loviní the tough love! I hope Iím not coming off as a complainypants or helpless, thatís not my intention at all. Iím about three months into this mustachian thing and the area I have been struggling the most with is this one particular habit. So I came here to bounce ideas off of others to get an idea what you guys think.

This is part of exercising my frugality muscle, it takes some effort and I donít expect to be as badass as some of you are overnight. Iím still a work in progress :) So, right now, for me, its not as easy as just saying ďDonít do it.Ē Iím gonna keep exercising that muscle though.

@matchewed

Yes I love to bbq. We do this quite a bit in the summer months, even still we got to get out and hit up the bars some of the time!

--

I want to thank everyone for the discussion, I think I know what I need to do now and I feel pretty good about having a better handle on my spending when the next happy hour rolls around. Cheers!

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #31 on: March 21, 2013, 04:45:14 PM »
I was always more a fan of house-parties than going to the bars.  So stock up on the best cheap drinks for the money (hey, MMM's recommended boxed wine is on there! I love Franzia.  And I pronounce it FRAHN-zia, for the sophisticated boxed wine drinker).  party down with your friends at one of your houses.  Play some drinking games, have some chicks over (they don't drink much).  Drink outside, it's one of life's little pleasures.

If you feel like going out to the bars still, put your flask in your pocket, and leave your cards at home, take only cash like someone else suggested.  If you're not within walking distance of your destination bars, put cab fare in your shoe.  Also, if you're not within walking distance, you can be the DD like someone else suggested.

At the bars, you NEVER EVER EVER get expensive stuff.  Never.  Like MMM doesn't suggest buying drinks on a cruise ship, normal people shouldn't buy weird shots/mixed drinks/whatever.  So when you think you might be interested in that 3 Wisemen or appltini or something so cool you've never even heard of it, punch yourself in the face.  Stick with the cheapest beer by volume.

I don't know if this is helpful, these are just the ways I do it, so take it or leave it.

arebelspy

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #32 on: March 21, 2013, 04:47:01 PM »
Is this thread magically appearing from some web page unrelated to Mr. Money Mustache?

How do you not spend too much money on unnecessary things?

You asked to give it to you straight, so here you go.

DON'T BUY THEM.

But you want to hang out with your friends?

So hang out with your friends and don't buy beer you don't need or want. Don't agree to split the bill for food you didn't eat. Don't eat food you don't want to pay for.

You think that's too hard?

What would MMM say? I'm not him so I don't know for sure, but I suspect the words complainypants and face punch would show up.

If you're old enough to drink, you're a grown adult able to make decisions on your own. If your friends decide they want to drink, that doesn't mean you have to. Take responsibility for your actions. You aren't helpless. People go out without drinking all the time.

Yes, it is that easy. It's only hard if you think it's hard. Go out with your friends and don't drink. Do you need alcohol to have fun? Do you need to do what they do to be a part of the group?

Sorry if tough love is a hard pill to swallow, but I feel like that's what brought us to this community.

DON'T BUY THINGS YOU DON'T NEED IF YOU DON'T WANT TO SPEND THE MONEY.

We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

GoStumpy

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #33 on: March 21, 2013, 05:00:42 PM »
Wow, this is uncanny... I had to keep checking your username to make sure I wasn't reading a post I made unconciously!

I can't express how similar we are...... really it's creepy.   The main difference is I have one friend, not a group, that we drink weekly, and the other one is my wife, who also loves beer & pubs.

I absolutely love a good IPA, but rarely is that on tap at our pubs, and I can't justify buying a $6 bottle that costs $2 at the liquor store!

My 'going out' budget each month has been dwindling, it was well over $400 a few months ago, I'd be willing to bet some months before I kept track I spent over $600 in Pubs... Now we have it down to ~$250/$300 as a couple ($125-$150each I suppose).

One thing I definitely started to do, to A) keep the hangover away, B) save money is to alternate beer to waters, order a beer, then order a water, and only order another beer once you finish the water... That has been the single smartest thing I've started to do at bars :)

We only live once, and the pub atmosphere is something I truly enjoy, so I plan to keep going, but I'm definitely 75%+ mentally decided to limit it to once a week... I think we're pretty close to twice a week right now.



But seriously, I can't believe how similar our situations are!  And you're in Seattle, and I grew up in Vancouver, pretty similar cities in my opinion!

Quote
If I could find a bar that had beers under four bucks I would be all over that! Where is this land of $1 and $2 drinks?

SERIOUSLY!  The cheapest sleeves I have ever seen are $3.25 or $3.75 on a special night like Wing Night, most of the time actual PINTS are $4.25 at the cheapest, and $4.75/$5.25 for anything half decent.  I always go out with the wife, so 2 beers each is usually $20, plus two meals at $8each quickly adds up to just over $40 with a tip.

Luckily we're both unwilling to drop $50+ unless it's an anniversary or some special occasion ;)
« Last Edit: March 21, 2013, 05:03:38 PM by GoStumpy »

mpbaker22

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #34 on: March 22, 2013, 08:57:36 AM »
I skipped some of the discussion, but I saw a few people commenting on changing your friends because 'there's got to be a handful of mustachians in every major city.'  The problem I have with this is that mustachiasm isn't my main set of values.  Ideally, I'd hang out with people who share my values in other areas and convert them to mustachiasm.

The biggest problem here is actually getting people to convert.  I have a friend with 80K in student loans who freaks out about his 2.5K in credit card debt, but doesn't see the loans as being a problem ...

capital

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #35 on: March 22, 2013, 09:09:49 AM »
My number one tip is: cut back on your drinking and your tolerance goes down. Then one or two beers does the job just as well as five or whatever, with way less of a potential for getting fat. If you have friends who would insult you for that, they are on the road to being alcoholics-- there's nothing wrong with going out and getting drinks, but taking pride in how much you can drink is dangerous.

Craft brews can be just as cost-effective as swill- if you're getting an 8% ABV beer for $5 that's the same as two 4% ABV beers for $2.50 each, but with one tip instead of two, and you'll probably enjoy yourself more.

Keep a flask in your pack and top things off if it's that kind of night.

Cheap bars are old man bars in cheap cities with cheap rent, mainly in small towns and cities in the Rust Belt.

the fixer

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #36 on: March 22, 2013, 09:40:38 AM »
I skipped some of the discussion, but I saw a few people commenting on changing your friends because 'there's got to be a handful of mustachians in every major city.'  The problem I have with this is that mustachiasm isn't my main set of values.  Ideally, I'd hang out with people who share my values in other areas and convert them to mustachiasm.

Agreed. This isn't some cult where we're all going to form a commune together and stop dealing with the rest of the world. Absolute maximum optimization of spending might require dumping some friends, but you can take a middle ground. I think discovering this middle ground requires making conscious, rational spending decisions rather than emotional ones (and not spending for fear of a facepunch is, in the end, just another emotional decision).

If you 1 get real value out of going to bars occasionally; 2 can do so at a fair and optimized price; and 3 you've done the math and objective analysis to know you can afford it, go for it. The real problem is most people don't do that level of diligence.

Another example: I help teach SCUBA classes at a nearby community college on Wednesday nights during the fall and spring semesters. After the class all of us staff go out to Ruby Tuesday's. I can choose not to go, but then I never get to see my friends (unless I want to go on a dive trip with them, which is even more $$$$!). So I get value from going (1). On Wednesday nights RT has half-off appetizers at the bar. Our group gets a table and the waitstaff won't give you the discount there, but one of my group taught me you can order an appetizer at the bar, pay for it, then bring it to your table. I drink water. This puts my total tab at about $7 including tip of the full appetizer price, so I've optimized the expense about as much as I can without being a total cheapskate (and I'm not even the cheapest; one of us is a student who brings home-cooked meals to eat at the table) (2). This is one night per week only during times of the year when the class is held, which adds up to about 15 nights per year; $7 x 15 = $105 per year to get to see this group of friends socially. I already have lots of investments, I'm saving almost $3k/month and have no debt. December's dividend payments just from my taxable investments was about four times that annual cost. So I can objectively afford this (3).

ShavenLlama

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #37 on: March 22, 2013, 11:29:04 AM »
When I visited Seattle a few years ago, there was some bar with lots of clowns and pinball machines. Yes, it was grungy. Yes, a fight broke out just outside the door. But I seem to remember it being fairly inexpensive. There are cheap places in Seattle.

Mrs MM

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #38 on: March 22, 2013, 11:34:27 AM »
I didn't read the replies... sorry!  But I do have one simple trick for you (sorry if someone else mentioned it already). 

Force yourself to have one glass of water between every beer you order.  Make it a habit.  You'll feel better and you'll order fewer drinks.  Baby steps...

Mrs MM

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #39 on: March 22, 2013, 11:38:43 AM »
Oh, and another thing that works is bringing cash and only paying that way.  Bring $50.  That's all you have.  You can't spend more than what you have.  Once you're doing $50 nights, bring $40.

Between that and the water trick, I think you'll get there.  You can even have your first beer at home to save even more.  You can still go out and have the exact same amount of fun.

By the way, congrats on all your other changes!!

matt_g

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #40 on: March 22, 2013, 12:14:05 PM »
1. Find a bar that has Cheap Beer / Food Specials. They are out there, just find one.  Look for coupons in the penny saver, I've found tons of places that have $10 off $50... or buy gift cards online....
2. Suggest that you go there the next time you go out with your friends.
3. Order the Cheapest beer on the menu & if you must eat, the cheapest meal on the menu that will suffice.
4. you should be able to walk out of there only spending $20-30 instead of $50-$100

icefr

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #41 on: March 22, 2013, 12:17:23 PM »
When I visited Seattle a few years ago, there was some bar with lots of clowns and pinball machines. Yes, it was grungy. Yes, a fight broke out just outside the door. But I seem to remember it being fairly inexpensive. There are cheap places in Seattle.

Shorty's. It's in Belltown.

slugsworth

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #42 on: March 23, 2013, 12:35:28 PM »
There are cheap places in Seattle.

Shorty's. It's in Belltown.

And the Comet on Capital Hill has $1 PBR.

SO, I live in Seattle and have a similar problem, so I don't know if I should be giving advice, but pre-funking at home always seems to help me. I suggest getting the happy hour ap from the stranger if you have a smart phone.

DebtDerp

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #43 on: March 23, 2013, 02:07:40 PM »
Quick update guys:

Went to happy hour last night, had three beers and spent under $20 bucks! When I felt like ordering a round of shots for the table you guys were in the back of my head and I didn't do it! So THANK YOU!

I am really happy with the result and now just need to keep it up moving forward.

the fixer

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #44 on: March 23, 2013, 02:17:29 PM »
Congrats!

cats

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #45 on: March 23, 2013, 02:35:31 PM »
Nice job!

I'm going to echo what someone else said above: as you drink less, your tolerance would go down.  I would (seriously) suggest that you go on a "detox" for a month and don't drink AT ALL. Not at home, not at the bar.  I bet once you get it out of your system (so to speak), you'll find yourself getting buzzed on much less alcohol and you'll need to slow down.  My dad gave up drinking for Lent one year and after Easter rolled around and he was drinking again, his overall level of consumption stayed much lower for a good long while.

DebtDerp

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #46 on: March 23, 2013, 02:57:08 PM »
Nice job!

I'm going to echo what someone else said above: as you drink less, your tolerance would go down.  I would (seriously) suggest that you go on a "detox" for a month and don't drink AT ALL. Not at home, not at the bar.  I bet once you get it out of your system (so to speak), you'll find yourself getting buzzed on much less alcohol and you'll need to slow down.  My dad gave up drinking for Lent one year and after Easter rolled around and he was drinking again, his overall level of consumption stayed much lower for a good long while.

I guess I should address this as others seem to have the impression that I go out to drink to get drunk. This is not the case at all! I am strictly a social drinker. In fact the last time I had a drink in my apartment was about six weeks ago. I do get drunk from time to time when I go out with friends but I don't get wasted drunk.

I know my limits and I am in control of myself. I did the crazy binge drinking thing in college and I will never do that again. Those days are behind me. I really meant it when I said I only go out drinking a couple times a month. This is not a weekly or nightly thing. I may have six or seven (sometimes more) drinks when I go out but these are spread out over several hours.

I enjoy drinking with my friends but I am in no way a heavy drinker as some may define it. Just wanted to clear the air.

mobilisinmobili

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #47 on: March 23, 2013, 04:58:19 PM »
When I visited Seattle a few years ago, there was some bar with lots of clowns and pinball machines. Yes, it was grungy. Yes, a fight broke out just outside the door. But I seem to remember it being fairly inexpensive. There are cheap places in Seattle.

Shorty's. It's in Belltown.

Shorty's = heaven. I used to hit that bar every time I went to Seattle when I was living in Victoria.

GoStumpy

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #48 on: March 23, 2013, 05:49:32 PM »
My problem is my wife likes beer as much as I do.. so we don't have anyone to tell us 'that's enough...' lol.

SwordGuy

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Re: How do I stop wasting money at bars?
« Reply #49 on: March 23, 2013, 10:08:17 PM »
Is this thread magically appearing from some web page unrelated to Mr. Money Mustache?

How do you not spend too much money on unnecessary things?

You asked to give it to you straight, so here you go.

DON'T BUY THEM.

But you want to hang out with your friends?

So hang out with your friends and don't buy beer you don't need or want. Don't agree to split the bill for food you didn't eat. Don't eat food you don't want to pay for.

You think that's too hard?

What would MMM say? I'm not him so I don't know for sure, but I suspect the words complainypants and face punch would show up.

If you're old enough to drink, you're a grown adult able to make decisions on your own. If your friends decide they want to drink, that doesn't mean you have to. Take responsibility for your actions. You aren't helpless. People go out without drinking all the time.

Yes, it is that easy. It's only hard if you think it's hard. Go out with your friends and don't drink. Do you need alcohol to have fun? Do you need to do what they do to be a part of the group?

Sorry if tough love is a hard pill to swallow, but I feel like that's what brought us to this community.

DON'T BUY THINGS YOU DON'T NEED IF YOU DON'T WANT TO SPEND THE MONEY.

Yep, pretty much sums it all up.