When you graduate from college and begin full blown adulthood there is one small change that many people struggle to make. This one change takes very little effort to make but becomes harder and harder to make the longer you drag it out. Make this change now and watch your energy increase, your wallet get fatter, and your productivity go up.
The change I speak of? Cutting Back on the Booze.
My mother is one of the healthiest, happiest and most successful people I know. She’s 50 years old, looks like she’s 40, runs marathons, and operates a multiple six figure network marketing business. Impressive I know. She obviously knows a thing or two about optimizing your health and wealth. Once I was at her house with two of my best friends during our party animal college years..
We had just finished up a Friday and Saturday as weekend warriors and we were talking about how we wanted to be healthier and in better shape (mainly we wanted look better on spring break). We were talking about what not to eat and what exercises to do and all that stuff meathead 20 year olds talk about. My mom overheard my buddy say, “I think I need to cut the dairy,” and my mother responded, “You need to cut the Beer!” The three of us looked at her, looked at each other, and DIED laughing. “What a preposterous idea,” we thought, "booze is a part of life! How on earth would we socialize without it? We’d die virgins for sure. We’d spend our Friday nights at home playing checkers. Our lives would surely be ruined without alcohol."
All of that is obviously outlandish. There are hardly any negative effects from cutting back on booze and the benefits are tremendous.
Now before you write this article off as another Mother Against Drunk Driving, scare tactic, article. WAIT!
I encourage you to continue to enjoy the occasional beverage when it makes you happy. BUT, I’m going to show you how changing your mindset around drinking culture can save you a mountain of money, improve your health leaps and bounds and turn you into a focused, motivated, creative machine.
Let me explain…
The average binge drinking college student or recent graduate is spending 2-3 nights a week getting smashed. Thirsty Thursdays are typical or maybe the random Wednesday night Karaoke. On this type of night you’re probably at the bar for 3-4 hours and get 1 or 2 drinks per hour. (Thats conservative, I know guys who are putting back 3-4 drinks per hour, aka me 3 years ago). But I digress… At 1-2 drinks per hour for 3-4 hours you will drink 7 or 8 beers or cocktails. At a very conservative midwestern average of $5 per drink thats $40 plus tip. We’ll say $40 dollars conservatively.
Then you have Friday’s. Of course you go out on Friday’s! You just finished you’re long week of work or school or whatever it is that stresses you out. When I was heavy into my John Belushi-esque party animal days my Fridays would look something like this. Get off at 5 head to happy hour and dinner, $20 bucks. Then back home or to a friends place to pre-game on a six pack $10 bucks. Then to the bars from 10PM - 2AM. And on Fridays… thats $60.
Saturdays of course are for the boys. So you grab a 30 rack of Busch Light and start drinking at 1 ($25). You get the munchies at 5 so you get snacks or a greasy dinner ($10). Then you hit the bars at 8 and again are out till 2 ($70).
In total, we are looking at $200-$250 per week on boozing!! Are you freaking kidding me. You think I'm exaggerating? Check your credit card statement.
$200 per week...Thats $10,400 per year. And you think I’m joking. I know many people who spend this on boozing weekly. I myself was once right around this $200 per week mark. Sometimes much more. It is scary.
If you keep up this pace for 5 years until you get married at 27. Thats $52,000 spent on booze in your early twenties. Thats a downpayment on your first house. Or if invested in the stock market for 10 years at 9% return its worth $123,000.
Case and point boozing is expensive.
Then of course there is the health benefits. Which we all know but chose to ignore.
The first question I want to pose is why does a 6 pack of beer make us drunk. Because it is poisonous. Alcohol is poison to our organs and the one it affects most acutely is the brain. Hence why we feel that awesome buzz after tossing a few back.
Now there’s no doubt getting a good buzz can be an awesome expierence. I still thoroughly enjoy a a handful of drinks with great friends every now and then. And I'm still young enough to totally let loose a few times per year too. The problem is that most early twenty-somethings get totally hammered 2-3 times per week. AKA they put a high amount of poison into their body 2-3 times per week. And exposure to any toxin that consistently does damage over time.
The immune system weakens. Energy levels lower. Stores of body fat go up. Visceral fat in the gut (the beer belly) starts to form. If done long enough the liver starts to malfunction. Cancer. Heart disease. The list goes on. Scary picture.
And I’m not here to scare you away from having a beer with friends. What I’m here to scare you away form is binge drinking multiple times per week. Not a good thing.
Finally this funny things starts to happen when you start frequenting bars blacked out less and start spending more genuine time with friends.
On top of the improvement you see in yourself you will also see that your inner circle starts to improve. It just so happens that the people who are somewhere besides the bar on a Saturday night at 10 are often high quality people. There are still plenty of great people in the bar at that time, but as we all know quite a few morons hangout in your local establishment every night. Your increased health and energy makes you a better friend and a better person to be around. And this in turn attracts better people into your life. This part takes a little longer to see come to fruition but after a few months of your new weekend lifestyle you will start to see what I mean.
The brain cells that you’ve been destroying twice a week seem to start rejuvenating (this statement is backed by self experimentation). But for real, you brain turns into the awesome, kick ass, creative machine that it is. My creativity, motivation, and ability to just get things done has increased dramatically since I cut back on the booze.
Not to mention I now have about 10 hours a week not spent on being belligerent and another 10 recovering from a hangover with an all day netflix marathon. That's another 20 hours a week to invest in myself, my goals, and the people I care about.
In short I don’t want you to forget alcohol exists or act like a naive little child who’s scared to take a sip. I want you to understand what boozing truly does to you. I want you to see that American drinking culture has some serious flaws. Alcohol will always be here to help us celebrate, congregate, and socialize. Its social lubricant. But I want you to be very mindful of how much and how often you do it. Have 1 or 2 drinks once or twice a week and you will be much better off. Opt for a vodka soda over the heavy IPA or the rum and coke. Drink one water for every alcoholic beverage you have when possible. And for god's sake drink at home with friends from a 10 dollar bottle of wine instead of buying a four 10 dollar glasses at the happy hour.
Happy responsible drinking friends!