Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dollar Dilemma: Alcohol and Going Out

Whenever I’ve revealed how much I’m budgeting, the most ubiquitous reaction I've received is this: “You think you can limit yourself to $42 a month for alcohol?”

My reaction until now has been to give a little scoff and say, “Well I don’t spend THAT much time at bars!”  (I have to admit I’m sorry that my implication is a little too much, “And you DO?” :/)

When I set my spending limits, my budgeting for this category was well intentioned.  I figured 1) I don’t spend that much time at bars, and 2) setting a low limit would stop me from going to get a beer for the sheer sake of having nothing better to do.  Which, at this age, is honestly too often what happens.  

With only $42 to spend, I thought I would hold out for experiences that were really worth it – grabbing an artisanal cocktail at Prohibition, perhaps, or having a beer at Front Porch on the first hot Friday afternoon of the season.  In my book, the money and calories that go toward outings like that are always well spent.

Well… things aren’t quite working out that way:

When analyzing what was going on, it seems like my plight to enjoy a good cocktail has backfired: I do limit my time in alcoholic settings – in February I went out just four times – but two of those times were to Uchi and Prohibition, two of the hottest (can I use that word to refer to a Houston bar?), most expensive venues in this great city.  I certainly enjoyed myself, but at $15/drink… worth it to do both?

I wish I had an answer.  I wish I could wrap up this entry with a silver bow and say, “But I learned that time with friends is worth it!” or “But I found the key to under-spending!” 

I don’t think so, not this time. 

I limited this budget for a reason – every dollar comes from somewhere and I need to learn that – I have to learn that before life gets a lot messier and lot more expensive.  So my resolution in March is to simply come under.  If you did your math, that means I have $3 to spend out!

Is it weird that I’m excited about this?  If I’m doing well to re-frame the situation, it’s KIND of like a cool, healthy bonus I’m going to get from being cheap. 

So here’s to a cheap March!  And crossing my fingers that someone will be throwing a house party on St. Patty’s Day!

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