The True Cost of Wasting Money on Getting Wasted

March 28, 2016


It’s been a year since I last wrote a post about my sobriety. When I read that post now, I can see how uncomfortable I still was with parts of it – namely, the social aspect. I knew life was better without alcohol, and I was a better person when not consuming it, but I still hated some of the questions that came up in social situations. “Are you really never going to drink again?” made me feel like people didn’t believe in me. And “don’t you miss it?” made me feel like people thought I’d made the wrong choice, and then I worried about what they thought of me. Rather than just answer the questions, I felt hurt by them. And after being asked repeatedly for two years, I turned that hurt into a blog post.

Today, I’m happy to report I have a much healthier mindset about it all. I still stand by the message in that post, which was to be mindful about what you say to people who are giving up something they once relied on (whether it’s alcohol, smoking, drugs, even food). But if you asked me those questions today, I wouldn’t be mad. In fact, I’ve even gone from feeling insecure about being able to find a guy who would date a girl who doesn’t drink, to proudly saying upfront with them that “it’s the best decision I’ve ever made”. It’s taken three years for me to get here – and there were some ups and downs in that time – but I’m confident in my decision to live a life without alcohol. There’s no going back now.

I’ve always said that I didn’t quit drinking to save money and that is certainly true. I never cared about the numbers back then and, if I had, it would’ve been the wrong reason to quit. Recently, however, I’ve found myself wondering how much money I wasted on getting wasted. It’s a sunk cost, at this point – not worth worrying about, as I can’t get it back – but I’m still curious, so I ran some numbers.

High School for Five Years = $3,000

I started drinking when I was 13 years old. In grades 8 through 10, I spent at least $7/week to split a 2L of cider with a girlfriend on the weekend. At some point, I know I graduated to drinking the whole 2L myself ($14-15/week). And I definitely drank more in summer months, and over holiday weekends and Christmas vacations. But let’s say I spent $7/week for the first three years of high school.

$7 x 52 weeks x 3 years = $1,092

By grade 11, I’d upgraded to rum and typically drank a “mickey” (this might be a Canadian term but it’s a 375mL bottle – nearly 13 liquid ounces or shots of alcohol) every weekend, to the tune of at least $12. Again, I know I drank more in summer months and over holidays. But let’s say I spent $12/week for the last two years of high school.

$12 x 52 x 2 years = $1,248

There is no part of me that believes I only spent $2,340 on partying in high school. After I started working (age 15), I know I drank more, gave it as gifts to friends on birthdays, etc. I’d also love to tell you I’ve never touched a drug in my life, but I’d be lying if I said that – or that I never paid for them. Let’s set the total at $3,000. I’m sure I spent more, but we can start with that.

Two Years Off = $6,240

That takes us to 2003 – the summer I graduated and turned 18. I would say that’s also the summer I started to care a lot more about boys and partying than anything else. I went to college in the fall, but put more effort into socializing than studying and, for the first time, nearly failed two of my six classes. Rather than flunk out, I decided to drop out and take time off instead.

In the two years I was out of school, I probably drank at least three nights/week. At 18, I moved out with my boyfriend (who was 19 and could legally buy us alcohol). We’d have nights where we’d try to spend as little as possible on cheap beer to drink at home, and nights where we’d go out and drop all our cash at the bar (granted, you could still get $3 drinks back then – but we had lots of them). We lived within walking distance from downtown, so we didn’t need to cab anywhere. But on a cheap week, I’d say we each spent at least $40 each on alcohol, and an expensive week was more like $80.

Let’s say I spent $60/week for the first two years I was out of high school.

$60 x 52 weeks x 2 years = $6,240

College for Two Years = $6,240

I turned 20 in July 2005, moved home and went back to school that September. I don’t think most people who have gone to college will be surprised when I say drinking was our social pastime. We’d go to the school’s pub for cheap drinks on Thursday, go to karaoke on the weekends and have parties at anyone’s house who would host one. Sometimes I’d take it easy, if I had a lot of projects and deadlines, but I was generally out at least two nights/week. I’d say some weeks I was spending as little as $40 on a couple drinks + a cab, but there were many more where I’d spend $80+.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s stick with the average and say I spent $60/week on partying while in college.

$60 x 52 weeks x 2 years = $6,240

So now we’re at the summer of 2007. I’m 22 and have already spent approx. $15,480 on partying. That’s $1,720/year if we average it out over nine years, which isn’t far off from the averages reported in various studies. Stats Canada says the average household spent $1,222 on tobacco/alcohol in 2014. And British Columbians spent an average of $754 each on beer alone that same year. Tack on cab rides, bar covers and takeout food eaten while drunk, and $1,720/year seems cheap – even normal. But let’s remember that for the first five of these nine years, I was an underage high school student.

The amount of money I was spending on partying wasn’t normal then, and it got worse after college.

Three Years Off = $13,520

If I’m being honest, the next few years are a bit of a blur – not that I don’t remember them, but there’s a lot I’ve chosen to forget about. For the first year, I was in an extremely toxic relationship. We lived together, so I wasn’t out at the bar every weekend with my girlfriends, but we still partied a lot. Some weeks, we’d be good and stay at home – maybe have a few friends over for drinks. Other weeks, I’d easily drop $100 on a night out. We also drank a lot when we went away, and I have no idea how much I spent then. I’ll lowball and say it was still $60/week for the year we were together.

$60 x 52 weeks = $3,120

After we broke up, I binged – on both drinking and spending. I’ve written about that a few times before, but essentially I tried to buy a new life. I moved into a one-bedroom apartment by myself and filled it with all brand new furniture (that I put on credit). I also financed a brand new car. I thought that if things looked like they were pieced together, that’s how I would feel. Of course, it didn’t work.

Living alone also gave me the freedom to drink as much as I wanted without anyone watching over me. I had friends over every weekend, and we’d split a few bottles of wine or packs of Strongbow, before heading downtown for the night. It was common for me to start a tab at a club and tell my friends to put all their drinks on it because I wanted to make sure the party never ended.

I can’t say for sure how much money I spent on partying during the two years I lived alone, because this is when I started racking up my credit card debt, ignoring my statements and making only the minimum payments. I know there were nights where I’d drink nothing more than a $10 bottle of wine at home. But there were also nights where I’d say to my server, “whenever my wine glass is empty, that means I want another”. On those nights, I do remember that my bill was typically in the $80-120 range – and that almost never included food. I’m lowballing again, but let’s say I spent $100/week on partying then.

$100 x 52 weeks x 2 years = $10,400

University for Two Years + Maxed Out = $3,787

When I turned 25, I decided to go back to school and turn my diploma into a degree – and it was one of the best decisions I could’ve made for myself. Because I was so busy working full-time during the day and doing homework at night, I literally had no time to party. I still went out maybe once/month and would have wine at home with friends, but I wasn’t spending nearly as much money as before.

The one time I blew through a ton of cash was my first attempt to move to Toronto in 2011. I brought $5,600 cash with me, looked for work but couldn’t find a job in the field I wanted and blew through every last penny in just eight weeks. Considering I was living with a friend and my expenses were low, I can only guess that at least one-third of the money went towards partying.

8 weeks in Toronto = $1,867

I was maxed out, when I came back home from that little adventure, and had no option but to spend less on going out. I still had a year of university to complete, so I used homework as an excuse for why I couldn’t party with friends. I’d occasionally get a $10 bottle of wine or a pack of Strongbow, but truly didn’t party much during the two years I was in school (other than those eight weeks in Toronto).

If we average out the eight weeks I partied more with the months I barely drank at all, I’d say I spent $20/week during that time.

$20 x 48 weeks x 2 years = $1,920

The Last Six Months = $2,925

When I finished school in July 2012, I went on a bender. I was living alone again, seeing someone new and felt like celebrating my freedom. I went back to drinking at least three nights/week, like when I was 19, and loved being able to see all the friends I’d been too busy to party with during school. This continued when the relationship ended in late July. I used drinking as a way to cope in August, and that same breakup is one of the reasons I accepted the full-time job offer I got in Toronto that took me out there again in September 2012. I would’ve done anything to get away.

I drank fairly steadily until the last week of September, when I realized I wasn’t happy with the person I was becoming. In October, I announced that I was going to quit drinking. And I had every intention of sticking to that but it only lasted 45 days (6.5 weeks). When I started drinking again mid-November, I went hard. I was used to blacking out, but this was on another level. My first Christmas party with the new team? I don’t remember anything after 10pm and somehow lost my pants and came home in a dress. The last time I got drunk in Toronto? My tab was $240 and I woke up covered in bruises. And my first trip to NYC? I got so drunk that I left my friends and somehow managed to get myself back to our Airbnb. I don’t remember how any of it happened. But after drinking more in Victoria that Christmas, and continually finding myself in sticky situations, I knew enough was enough. Minus the 6.5 weeks I was sober, I’d estimate I spent close to $3,000 on partying in those final few months.

$150 x 19.5 weeks = $2,925

The True Cost of Wasting Money on Getting Wasted

When you add up all these numbers, I’ve spent approx. $35,712 on partying; that’s $2,463/year for 14.5 years – and this is a lowball estimate. Writing this post and looking at that number is terrifying. Again, I know it’s a sunk cost, but I still can’t help but wonder what else I could’ve done with $36,000. I could’ve put an extra $2,463/year aside for retirement and been tens of thousands of dollars ahead with my goal. Or I could’ve put $1,500/year aside for retirement and gone on one more vacation each year. Or I could’ve saved it all for a future down payment. Instead, I spent $36,000 masking my feelings and doing things I can barely remember (and am left with some nights I wish I could forget).

The worst part about wasting so much money on getting wasted wasn’t the fact that I wasted money at all – it was losing pieces of my life and not being able to grow emotionally during all those years. One of the things I’ve learned and had to deal with is that your emotional age gets stuck at the age your addiction kicks in. For me, I would guess that was around age 19 – with the worst of it setting in around age 23. I certainly didn’t love myself at age 19, and felt worse at 23, so it makes sense that it’s taken a few years of being sober for me to get to a place where I can say I love and value myself now. One of the reasons I think I’ve been able to let go of 75% of my belongings, quit my job and embrace the life I want, is because I finally believe in myself. I know what I want and that I’m capable of having it, if I just do the work; I couldn’t have said the same five years ago, but I’m grateful I can today.

And while I didn’t quit drinking to save money, I’m also grateful I’ll never add to that $36,000 grand total; that, in the future, my money can go to far better things. But I still think this exercise has been a powerful lesson in how quickly a weekly expense can add up over time.

If you spend $25/week on something, that’s $1,300/year.

  • $50/week = $2,600/year
  • $75/week = $3,900/year
  • $100/week = $5,200/year
  • $150/week = $7,800/year

If you spend $25/week on something for 5 years, that’s $6,500.

  • $50/week for 5 years = $13,000
  • $75/week for 5 years = $19,500
  • $100/week for 5 years = $26,000
  • $150/week for 5 years = $39,000

When it’s a small expense, it seems like it makes no difference at all – but it adds up fast. And if those small expenses are a result of mindless spending, or they don’t align with your goals or values, they can hurt you and your future in more ways than one.


  • Reply Jennifer Collins March 28, 2016 at 4:38 am

    Great post, Cait. You should be proud of yourself. I don’t want to think about how much I spent eating out and drinking during university. Probably every day or every other day? Yikes.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 8:42 pm

      Oh, I believe it. It’s easy when there were always parties and reasons to celebrate!

  • Reply Sarah March 28, 2016 at 4:53 am

    That’s it! It really makes me sick to think about how much I’ve spent on boozing from ages 14-45. Lots. Lots of money and lots of days. I can’t get it back but I can stop it now. I really like this post. Thank you.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 8:43 pm

      I’m so glad it resonated with you, Sarah. <3

  • Reply Michelle March 28, 2016 at 6:52 am

    Long time lurker on the blog, here. Cait, thanks for being honest – I’m sure these posts are never easy to write or reflect on. I’m proud of you!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 8:43 pm

      Thanks, Michelle. :)

  • Reply The Financial Tech March 28, 2016 at 6:55 am

    Wow that’s quite a lot of money.

    I remember that at some point I was spending between 150$ and 300$ by weekend getting wasted. If I would have invest this money, I would have a nice portfolio that growth but instead, everything is lost.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 8:43 pm

      Yep. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but at least we don’t do it anymore, right?

  • Reply Brittany Bruce March 28, 2016 at 7:06 am

    Thanks for being so open and honest about your past! This post really puts into perspective what small spending habits can add up to over time.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 8:44 pm

      Thanks, Brittany. :)

  • Reply Kristen March 28, 2016 at 7:08 am

    Those numbers are crazy scary! Thanks for sharing them.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 8:44 pm

      Happy to. :)

  • Reply Amanda @ My Life, I Guess March 28, 2016 at 7:13 am

    Wow Cait, thank you for this. I knew a bit about your past and decision to be sober, but I had no idea… I appreciate how candid you are!
    I too started drinking at a young age (small town living), and went a little overboard with going out to bars while I was in University, but drinking has never really been my thing. I’m very lucky that I could stop drinking at any time, and when I lived alone and was depressed, I stopped drinking altogether – partially because I was trying to save my money to quit my crappy toxic job, but mostly because drinking just made me feel more depressed.
    I’m glad that this is something you’re proud of now. You should be! This is an amazing feat you’ve accomplished!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 8:45 pm

      Thanks, Amanda. And I’m glad to hear you recognized how drinking affected you. Awareness is the first step towards change.

  • Reply Eric Bowlin March 28, 2016 at 7:13 am

    When a friend or someone I know says they don’t drink, I always say “Good for you!” I know it’s a huge decision and can be life changing. Drinking is not wrong or bad, unless done to excess, but to quit drinking is also never a wrong decision.

    Anyhow I also wanted to say that I recently was joking with my wife about saving money on baby diapers. If we can get our daughter potty trained 6 months early it would save around $240. Just for fun I tossed it into a compound interest calculator for 62 years (roughly how many years until my daughter retires) at 10% (the average returns of the S&P500 over the last few decades), and I came up with $109,000.

    Of course who knows if I’d get 10% and I’m more focused on her college and my retirement than on her retirement, but the point is even very very small sums of money are worth a ton of money in the future.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      Ha! That’s a hilarious thing to calculate, Eric! But another great example. Thanks for sharing. :)

  • Reply Fervent Finance March 28, 2016 at 7:18 am

    Thanks for sharing Cait. I started drinking around 16/17 years old. But didn’t get too crazy with it until my sophomore year of college. From 19 – 24 years old though, I could only imagine what I’ve spent. Sophomore year drinking was usually 3 nights a week, and junior year (my last year) was 4 nights a week. I moved home for year after college which instantly cut down on how much I was drinking (my weight dropped like a rock too). Until I was about 24 drinking was 2-3 nights a week with the “bros”. Then When I was 25 I started working out and putting my health first. I just turned 28 and I drink about once a week for the social aspect. No more getting wasted (okay weddings do me in) but just a few drinks to catch up with friends and family. My body and wallet have thanked me.

    Living in a big city it’s tough since someone is always out drinking. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy to cut back to drinking one night a week. People may say you’re being lame or similar. Oh well – they get over it. Thanks again for sharing Cait. Take care.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 8:50 pm

      And thank YOU for sharing your experiences with us! You’re definitely right about how quickly your weight can drop just by cutting down. So many unnecessary calories in booze. Cheers to our health. :)

  • Reply Angela March 28, 2016 at 7:31 am

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 8:50 pm

      Thanks for reading, Angela. :)

  • Reply Colleen March 28, 2016 at 7:34 am

    Love that post, Cait!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 8:50 pm

      Thanks, Colleen!

  • Reply kathleen March 28, 2016 at 7:51 am

    <3 this. I added it up once, too, but not cumulative. Talk about mindless spending. Something that makes you feel good for a minute, bad for 24 hours, and adds inches to your waistline. My current sobriety (forced, but still sober) has made me realize how much better I sleep.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      “Something that makes you feel good for a minute, bad for 24 hours, and adds inches to your waistline.” Yes yes yes yes yes. And yes about sleeping better. After a night of drinking, I’d come home at 3am, pass out, and the minute my eyes opened – no matter how early it was – I was awake. Since I’m a morning person, the latest I woke up was typically 7:30am… so I’d have to survive on 4 hours of sleep all day. Nooo thank you.

  • Reply Alexis March 28, 2016 at 8:01 am

    I could have written this. I stopped drinking socially when I met the guy I eventually married because I didn’t want to risk doing something stupid and ruining another relationship. I quit completely when I found out I was pregnant with my first baby at 28. No way was I ever going to be anything but totally sober for my kids. I can honestly say that kicking booze to the curb is the best thing I ever did. But thinking about all that stuff I did and didn’t do while I was drinking still makes me wince. I guess it’s like the debt; remembering how awful it was makes me know I never, ever want to go back there.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 8:56 pm

      Wow, good for you, Alexis! And thank you for being vulnerable in this one sentence: “I didn’t want to risk doing something stupid and ruining another relationship”. I stay sober for me, but I do know I’m a better friend/family member/partner this way. No more lying (something addicts do without blinking) and no more drunken mistakes. We are all our best selves when not under the influence. <3

  • Reply Julie March 28, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Thanks for sharing, Cait! This post is beautifully written and you show your inner beauty and strength. Rather than turning people off, not drinking is a very attractive quality that I appreciate in my friends. So many of may family members and friends have struggled with addiction that to find someone who chooses other forms of entertainment and values other experiences over partying is a breath of fresh air. Kudos to you!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 9:03 pm

      Well that’s a breath of fresh air to hear too, Julie! It’s funny, though (or may not). I’ve talked to sober guy friends about this and we wonder if there’s a double standard for some people. When a girl hears a guy doesn’t drink much (or at all), it’s a sign he’s confident and in control of his life. But when some guys hear girls don’t drink, they assume something is/was wrong with them. I’m definitely not saying everyone feels this way! But zero of my sober guy friends have ever had a girl think it’s weird they don’t drink, whereas most of my girlfriends (myself included) have had guys make some strange/rude comments about it. I’ve met/dated a couple guys who are cool with it! But still haven’t found the right one yet. ;)

  • Reply Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies March 28, 2016 at 8:19 am

    Wow, this sure sounds like a lot of money! I know what it feels like to be getting all these questions about drinking (or rather NOT drinking alcohol. I don’t really drink myself (I mean I do, but on very rare occasions) and I do get a lot of questions as to whether I miss it or wondering if I am going to drink again. I understand how tiring it can get to keep answering same questions over and over again.

    It sure sounds like you are happy with how things are and that’s all that matters. I am sure you can find a much better use to this money that you have saved over the years by not drinking!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 9:04 pm

      Ahhh yes, my friend and podcast co-host Carrie is the same! She’s not an alcoholic but just doesn’t really like to drink, and has definitely been asked the same questions. Oh well! Now I’m confident enough to deal with them. (And can certainly do better things with my money, in the future.) :)

  • Reply Erin K. March 28, 2016 at 8:38 am

    Wow, Cait! Thank you so much for the candid post. As a non drinker most my adult life (just don’t care for the taste of most alcohol), the part about finding a partner who accepted you as a non drinker really resonated with me. When I was single I actually had a mental health provider tell me it would be ‘hard’ to find a partner because ‘most’ people drink. SIGH. I had no issue with other people drinking in moderation. I dumped that provider and eventually met my fiancé. And guess what, he doesn’t drink either! Funny how things work out… ;)

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 9:07 pm

      Well there’s a happy ending! Yea, I’d be fine dating someone who drank in moderation too. And if I don’t care that he drinks sometimes, he can’t care that I don’t drink ever. :P

  • Reply V. H. March 28, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Thank you . this is an amazing post… I have sent it on to my 20 something daughters. And it is added fuel to my fire for myself. Even at age 55 it is a huge help. I am giving up drinking also.. So thank you for your honesty and insight.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 9:08 pm

      I’m glad it was something you could share, V.H. Good luck in your journey. <3

  • Reply Amy March 28, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Wow, Cait. Powerful post and one I can SO relate to, having started drinking at around the age of 14, as well. I wish I could go back in time, shake the younger version of me and say, “IT’S NOT WORTH IT! It’s a waste of time, energy, money, and health.”

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      All of the above! Plus all the stupid things you do. Rawr. Oh well. You live and learn, my friend. We are on the better side of things now. :)

  • Reply Rob March 28, 2016 at 8:54 am

    Thanks for sharing coming from me too, Cait. I’m proud of you. Back in the day (when I was just starting out working) I worked with a guy around my age who “smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish” (to coin a phrase). He’d easily go through a case of 24 beer over a weekend – all on his own). Well, time passed and, like yourself, he blew a lot of money. But it wasn’t just the wasted $$$, it was his health. Over time his liver was a mess. Over the years I lost track of him but I sadly doubt if he’s around today. Money wasted can (hopefully) be replaced over time but not one’s health. That type of waste is indeed “sunk cost”. We all are not perfect, have our faults, have our weaknesses, have our demons (like TO’s former mayor Rob Ford) but you overcame yours, Cait, and are all the stronger for it today. Good on you, buddy!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 9:14 pm

      You are certainly right about the health part, Rob. And it’s unfortunate if your former co-worker couldn’t fight his demon and take control of his own. We get one life and it’s so precious… I’m just not willing to take any more gambles with it. <3

  • Reply L March 28, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Wow, thank you for sharing! My uncle is sober and my dad an alcoholic, though he would never admit that. He usually drinks cheap beer so I assume it’s not as absurdly expensive as it could be, but he’s been a smoker and a drinker since he was in high school. From that, I have never touched cigarettes and pretty rarely drink. I mean, I remember my dad puking into the toilet after a night of drinking when I was 11-13 and not coming home from work for dinner when I was 5. Those experiences were pretty helpful for me to not get into drinking. I didn’t drink underage and I turned 19 at the end of my second year of university. I just didn’t befriend the partiers or was happier having fewer friends than drinking with strangers. It’s SO much easier in my late twenties to drink less than it was in college – far less peer pressure, which I really appreciate. I have watched my dad get multiple DUIs and never learn his lesson, so I was so cautious around drinking and driving to the point that I wouldn’t drive anywhere within 6 hours of any amount of alcohol. I’ve finally realized I can probably safely have a half glass of wine and drive an hour later. I’ve had a hard time dating anyone who drinks more than 2-3 drinks in a sitting because of my experience with my dad missing parts of my life from his drinking.

    Alcohol affects all of us and I’m so glad you’re strong enough to be sober, Cait.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 9:19 pm

      Wow, right back at you, L. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, and I’m sorry you had to experience that. I know it’s not easy to separate the disease from the person, when it’s a parent, but please know it’s not YOUR fault your dad did any of that stuff. I’m sure you’ve heard that before, but I just wanted to make sure someone said it again. <3

  • Reply Miss Thrifty March 28, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Amazing piece. Thank you so much for sharing your story.
    As you mentioned, alcohol consumption (or lack thereof) covers everything in a veil of insecurity. In college, I was the generous drunk who, like you, was willing to pay for the whole group to keep the party going. Deep down though, I know now that those weekly $200 bar tabs for me and my closest friends were paid for on my credit card because a) my friends had made it a point to say that I was a more outgoing, fun, and tolerable person drunk; b) I thought (probably rightfully so, actually) that if I didn’t buy their drinks, they wouldn’t want much to do with me anymore.
    Proud of your journey! :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 28, 2016 at 9:23 pm

      I can definitely relate to those reasons, too, so thank you for sharing them. I think I paid because I didn’t want anyone else’s budget be the reason they went home early (leaving me alone or without drinking partners). Now, I’m grateful we do lots of hiking instead, so we can challenge ourselves and make memories we’ll actually keep. :)

  • Reply Keith March 28, 2016 at 10:08 am

    It’s inspiring to hear your story Cait. Many (most?) of us among similar drinking cultures, who either don’t yet fully recognize the negative effects, or who don’t know how to break it. I’m certainly still among it. I struggle with having fun at a bar/party without a few drinks. I suppose the issue for me is more a matter of excess, vs. the 1-2 drink nights. (which are rare.) It’s also interesting that you’ve spent way more in alcohol than you’d ever incurred in debt. It seems the ‘mistakes’ of your past were the biggest opportunities for you to grow.

    I’m digging the numbers. This is the way to motivate me! The opportunity cost of cash is influential in my mind (and probably other PF nerds), and helps reinforce the argument for less/no alcohol. Imagine if everyone took a few minutes to calculate their money spent on alcohol/drugs over time – it would open some eyes! Whenever I simply cut back on alcohol to improve my budget, I was shocked with the bulky dollar amounts I have available to me to rework into another area. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 29, 2016 at 9:00 pm

      Well alcohol is just one area we can easily bleed money without thinking… but the same could be true for things like takeout coffee, dining out, the random $10 purchases we make here and there… it all adds up! Either way, I’m glad this is a good example. :)

  • Reply Bri March 28, 2016 at 10:09 am

    Cait – I am so glad you chose life. Societal demands are so confusing and exert a powerful invisible pressure that negatively impact us all as we search for our own identity, no matter what our age. Stopping a downward spiral is an amazing accomplishment and shows remarkable insight and wisdom on your part combined with effective positive action. I thank you very much for sharing as it will help many others as your story goes out like a ripple, with positive effects you will never see. May you continue to be blessed!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 29, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      Just wanted to send you a big virtual hug, Bri. Thanks for this thoughtful comment. <3

  • Reply Chelsea March 28, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Thanks for being open and honest about your journey Cait.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 29, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      Thanks for reading, Chelsea. :)

  • Reply Sarah March 28, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Seeing those figures is definitely an eye-opener! Alcohol, frivolous shopping, or anything else – things really add up. Great post and sentiments! This post makes me reconsider a lot of choices I’m making right now.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 29, 2016 at 9:02 pm

      I’m glad it made you think, Sarah. :)

  • Reply Lynn March 28, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Cait, I admire your willingness to share with such candor. Thank you. You have done an amazing job of turning your life around. Congratulations! You SHOULD be proud of yourself.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 29, 2016 at 9:02 pm

      Thank you, Lynn! <3

  • Reply Carol C March 28, 2016 at 10:27 am

    Awesome blog posting, Cait! You have come so far ~ congrats.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 29, 2016 at 9:02 pm

      Thank you, Carol. <3

  • Reply Celia Lewis March 28, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Excellent honest post, Cait. And much appreciated by many people I’m sure!!
    I have a relative who was an alcoholic from 16-23, with an awful lifestyle. She got clean, sober, started putting her life back together, and has 2 small businesses of her own, a wonderful guy who thinks she is adorable and loveable, treats her so well… But I can see that teenager still there in her emotional development. You’re totally correct – people stop growing emotionally when they cover up their feelings with addictions.
    Congratulations, and keep on keeping on. You’re on a fabulous pathway now. :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 29, 2016 at 9:04 pm

      It’s a huge part of the recovery process, Celia – recognizing where you perhaps haven’t matured yet and actively working on it. I’ve always been fairly responsible by nature, in terms of my commitments, family, work, etc. But I was so immature/insecure in my relationships, starting from when I was in my teens and continuing for many years. That used to be tough to admit (I was stubborn and would’ve said it wasn’t true lol) but I can say it now because I’m past it. :)

  • Reply Potato March 28, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Thanks for sharing, Cait. Drinking (esp. to excess) exerts such a toll, and the monetary cost is the least of it. And while it may not have been the cause of your early troubles with money, it certainly didn’t help — and for many university-aged kids, drinking and partying is effectively financed at student loan or even credit-card rates, so these amounts compound higher very quickly.

    I started off a tee-totaller, but I know my friends were able to procure alcohol from their late teens on. But you (and some other comments above) indicate buying it as young as 13. What failures are happening in our society that this can happen? A 16-year-old may get a fake ID and pass as young-looking 19-year-old, but what store is believing that from a 13-year-old?

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 29, 2016 at 9:07 pm

      Nope, I didn’t buy alcohol until I was legal age (19 here). When I was really young, some of my friends’ older siblings bought it for us. Then as I got to be 16/17, I had friends who were 19, so it didn’t require the same workaround. So the answer is: you can basically always find someone to buy alcohol for you. (It’s the same answer to how so many teens can smoke.)

  • Reply Viv44 March 28, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Thank you so much for this post. I too made the decision to stop drinking, although not because I was drinking too much. Rather, it was because I saw a loved one lose their life in the path you described (except they never stopped). Watching someone drink so much that they passed out regularly made me realize what a waste of time/money/moments of your life drinking can be. I’m not someone who gains a lot of enjoyment from alcohol, so it seemed silly to ever have it. I think alcohol is treated as such a normal part of our social lives, that no one ever thinks about whether they really need it or enjoy it. It is just a given that you’re going to have some wine or beer at a party or dinner. Once I realized that I was drinking only because it was considered “normal” and not because it was something I truly enjoyed, I decided to just stop. And I have to say I’ve been really surprised by how difficult it has been! People constantly offer me a drink- even when they know that I don’t drink. Having to say “no” so frequently gets tiresome and at times I’ve felt like just saying “yes” to avoid having to explain whey I don’t want any. I hope the tides turn at some point and it become “normal” not to drink, rather than the revers. It is such a slippery slope from social drinking to drinking to avoid life that we’re terrible at knowing where the line is. Congrats on your decision and continued sobriety!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 29, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      You described my sober life to a tee, Viv! Everyone offers, and I’m constantly saying no. It used to bug me, because I used to feel like everyone was pressuring me to drink. Now, I see they are just doing what’s considered customary to do! And 95% of people hear “no thanks, I’m good” and don’t ask again or pressure you in any way. So it’s all good. Definitely a slippery slope though. I’ve found you just have to get to a place where you’re truly at peace with your life without the substance. It’s easy breezy these days :)

  • Reply Deb March 28, 2016 at 10:49 am

    You have helped so many by sharing this story. And may I say, you are awesome!

    This post makes me think about the true cost of anything, whether it is in dollars or other measures, and how we need to be and can be mindful of the ways we invest in ourselves.

    Thanks so much for all you do for us and congrats on your fabulous journey. Well done, Cait, well done.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 29, 2016 at 9:10 pm

      Thank you for the sweet and thoughtful comment, Deb. <3

  • Reply Jenny from Germany March 28, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Wow, what a great post. Thank you for your honesty, Cait! I acually happend to be reading your blog from start to finish over the last couple days (you know just because I love it so much) and if I may say so it puts a couple of your posts and budgets into a different perspective. Blacking out and waking up with different clothes or bruises sounds downright scary!
    Luckily I have never been the person to get wasted. I grew up next to a very nice neighbor, who would have his friends over every single day and it was always work, drink until late at night, sleep, repeat. I’ve seen a lot of crap go down there during my childhood and I somehow swore myself to not start drinking. Never liked the taste anyway. My teenage years were definitely not easy and my peers gave me a very hard time for not drinking. Interestingly enough though the adults as well. I often was labeled as “anti-alcoholic” (heck, I just didn’t like it. didn’t mean I am against alcohol…) by them when I refused a glass of sparkling wine. I still don’t get the part why adults were ‘teasing’ me. When I was 22/23 I did get drunk a few times when I had a new circle of friends due to college but quickly stopped after I found myself in some akward situations. (no bad ones, just weird ones). Only drank the occasional beer or cuba libre after that and as of last year and now being 29 I don’t drink at all anymore for medical reasons. The questions/comments I still get for not drinking are still bothering me though. Guess I’ll never get over that..hahaha

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 29, 2016 at 9:12 pm

      I think you’ll get over it, Jenny! It might just take a little more time and more social interactions. I’m fine with saying no now! And even the teasing (though no one really does it anymore). Sending healthy vibes over to you :)

  • Reply Rebecca March 28, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Any thoughts on how to handle peer pressure when you’ve just never been a big drinker? I’ve never particularly enjoyed the taste or the feeling, and I’d rather spend my money and time on something else. But I’m not teetotal and will have a drink occasionally at a party. It feels socially *more* acceptable to say “I don’t drink,” implying a former drinking problem or a religious restriction, than to have one drink and call it a day. At times people have really pressured me to drink more – why? what’s in it for them?

    • Reply Linda Sand March 28, 2016 at 3:51 pm

      When young I used to say, “If I have a good time I want to remember it.” Then I went through a stage of saying, “I’m the designated driver tonight,” which implied maybe I’d drink next time. Now that I’m old I say, “The doctor gave me a choice between drinking or taking my medicine so I chose to live.”

      As to what’s in it for them–they don’t have to figure out why they drink like that if everyone is doing it. You being able to not do it can threaten them. I was lucky in that people always accepted my excuses.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 29, 2016 at 9:17 pm

      What Linda said is absolutely correct. I’ve found that sometimes teasing comes from people who feel uncomfortable because your sobriety forces them to think about their own drinking. To that end, I would say continue to just lead by example and live the life that’s best for YOU – nobody else. The peer pressure lifts, as time goes on and people realize you aren’t going to drink. If you’re happy to have that one drink, that’s ok! But if you’d rather have zero, just order soda waters, iced teas, etc. And I don’t usually say “I don’t drink” anymore. I just say “no thanks, I’m good”. If people ask, I’ll say “I don’t really drink” and leave it at that. Hope that helps a bit, Rebecca! Feel free to email me anytime :)

  • Reply Jan Ramsey Brick March 28, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Cait – such a beautiful and soul-bearing post. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Like you, I’ve wasted so much money and time trying to numb myself. I’m so happy for you that you learned at a relatively young age and you didn’t have to waste the decades that many of us have. I’m sure your words will help many. :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 29, 2016 at 9:17 pm

      Thank you so much, Jan. I appreciate you sharing with us here, and taking the time to write such a sweet comment. <3

  • Reply Julie March 28, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Thank you Cait for having the courage to share so honestly. Your’s is not an unusual story but it is one one rarely told so truthfully. There are few of us, I suspect, who don’t see something of our own experiences in yours. My husband is a recovering alcoholic, and has been sober for many decades, and I drink very little, very rarely nowadays. We have often observed how much other people must be spending on alcohol at different times when we see their recycling bins on the street! It’s a curiosity not a judgement as we often found it hard to make ends meet especially when our children were younger and couldn’t imagine adding alcohol into the financial mix! Of course if I had looked at my own shopping and reasons why then we would have had more money ….
    Although I suspect I am significantly older than many of your readers, and certainly you Cait, and have never commented before I certainly enjoy and always learn a lot from you.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 30, 2016 at 6:52 am

      Yes, I wonder that sometimes too, Julie – how do people afford to drink so often? I guess I know what my own answer was: I put it on credit. Anyway, very cool to hear about your husband! My dad is about to hit the 20-year mark in his sobriety. Lots to celebrate :)

  • Reply Roomie March 28, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    I know I was a contributor/instigator of that Toronto party spend, but I must say – having you here for that summer (which is hard to believe was 5 years ago) also solidified our friendship beyond my wildest dreams. I am so proud of you for all you do, and apologize if I ever bullied you about being a “sober vegetarian” but it all came from a place of love/fun/friendship and I love you more now than ever. I am stoked for your adventures ahead and look forward to sharing in them with you. Keep rocking rock star!!!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 30, 2016 at 6:54 am

      Don’t you ever, for one second, think you instigated me! I’d be a fool to not take full responsibility for my own drinking. But I couldn’t agree more, ROOMIE! That time changed and shaped our relationship to what it is today. No regrets. Love you!

  • Reply Janelle March 28, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    Having not seen your previous post about not drinking, I was a bit sceptical when I started reading this article. However, I completely understand now and commend you for your honesty. While I aim not to have more than one or two drinks a week, I’m going to take a hard look at how I spend my money on things that are of little to no value….I probably could be saving much more.

    Thanks for your insight Cait!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 30, 2016 at 6:55 am

      I’m glad it made you think, Janelle. Thanks for taking the time to comment! :)

  • Reply Linda Sand March 28, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Congratulations, Cait, on getting sober and staying that way. Life is so much better when you can remember the fun you had.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 30, 2016 at 6:55 am

      You got that right, Linda! :)

  • Reply Tawcan March 28, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    That’s an interesting breakdown for sure. Wow I didn’t realize how much money you were throwing away on drinks, that’s crazy. Congrats on staying sober! I don’t drink all that much nowadays so it kinda shocks me to see the dollar amount.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 30, 2016 at 6:56 am

      And my dad thinks I lowballed, haha.

  • Reply Katherine Payne March 28, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Thanks for this honest recounting of your journey. Another often unidentified cost of consuming lots of alcohol is how it can exacerbate “unrelated” medical issues. I recently reduced consumption and have seen such improvement in my allergies that I’ve been able to go off prescription meds – a big savings.

    Keep striving!!!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 30, 2016 at 6:57 am

      Wow, that’s incredible, Katherine! I wish sobriety would cure my allergies, haha. Wonderful it’s saving you money, and changing your health. I don’t know what damage I did in the short-term, but I’m certainly grateful to not be putting poison into my body anymore.

  • Reply ENG March 28, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Thanks Cait for this post, at least now I’m able to realize how I’m able to cut down on all the drink , and congrats on your success.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 30, 2016 at 6:58 am

      Thanks, Eng. :)

  • Reply Maria March 28, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    Thank you Cait for being so open about this. Having lived with an addict I know the costs tally up (which is partly how I ended up in debt myself, always covering mine and his “real” bills like food/rent/insurance). I think the math is a very good exercise for anyone with any kind of addiction/habit spending; shopping/frequent travel/nights out…it all comes with a cost.
    I also had a “staged” life womplete with handbags, shoes, and so on for a life I *wished* I was living trying to cover up the unglamouros one where I’d clean up after the addict’s latest coke-binge weekend or calling the police at 5 am trying to get random people to leave my home so I could sleep….denial was everywhere and it’s hard to forgive yourself for some of the things you did or put up with.
    Don’t worry about the people who won’t date anyone who doesn’t drink; you don’t need them in your life!
    A true friend or partner supports you and your choices, and they love you for you – not someone you pretend to be.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 30, 2016 at 7:22 am

      Oh Maria, what a time that must have been for you. I’m glad it’s behind us both now. And thank you for your sweet note at the end. :)

  • Reply Ronnica March 28, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    That’s an incredibly powerful story…and the financial costs weren’t even the largest costs you were paying. I did a post once where I detailed how my former self would have lived/spent money compared to what I’m doing now, and this post kinda reminds me of that. My addictions are/were different, but they still cost a lot.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 30, 2016 at 7:23 am

      Sounds like a great post, Ronnica! Going to look for it now :)

  • Reply Laura Lee March 29, 2016 at 3:24 am

    Hello Cait,

    I have found your blog posts amazing to read and I often go back and re-read them for inspiration.
    I have recently started the ban on clothing shopping.
    I used to drink… alot… and was drinking everyday. At my worst point I was able to consume 2 litres of wine a night (scary stuff). I’ve been sober since October 2014 and I am so amazed at the change that I’ve seen in my personal life. The only problem was that I swapped one addiction for another. I have always loved shopping for clothes and they make me feel good but it started to spiral out of control. I have gotten myself into so much debt now that I am ashamed to tell my husband and parents what the amount is. But when I stumbled upon your blog and read about your story about not buying clothes for a year (and longer) I was inspired to try it for myself. It’s early days still, about 6 weeks now but I am already starting to realise that I don’t need to buy clothes to make me feel better. I have an enormous amount of clothes that I have collected over the many years of over spending so I have so much to work with in my wardrobe. I haven’t gotten to the point yet where I could get rid of the majority of my wardrobe like you have done as I feel like I’m still very attached to the clothes I do have. But hopefully that day will come. I keep telling myself “Baby Steps” from one of my favourite movies “What about Bob” :D I still miss shopping for clothes from time to time if I’m having a bad day or am bored but it has gotten easier to walk past the stores and not feel the force field pulling me in. From the bottom of my heart, Thank you for posting these blogs about your life experiences, you’ve helped me so much so far and I’m sure countless others.

    Take care,
    from Laura Lee
    Durban, South Africa

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 31, 2016 at 7:40 am

      Swapping one addiction for another is normal, but it’s really good you’ve finally realized that’s what you were doing. I know I’ve fallen back into patterns of using something to make myself feel better, at times. The important thing is to be aware of what’s happening, so you don’t do any major damage. As for your clothes, don’t feel like just because I got rid of mine that you need to get rid of yours. BUT, if you feel like you have too many, I’d encourage you to try something like this: separate some of what you know you don’t wear often, and either put it in its own drawer or put it in a bag and hide it. If you find you haven’t touched the stuff in 3-6 months, consider getting rid of it: selling, donating, whatever. It’s a baby step! Thanks for sharing some of your story with us, Laura Lee :)

  • Reply Sohcrates March 29, 2016 at 3:49 am

    Awesome post and congratulations on willing to break from harmful societal “norms”
    Keep on keeping on!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 31, 2016 at 7:41 am

      Thanks! :)

  • Reply Elizabeth Fleming March 29, 2016 at 5:46 am

    What an amazing post. You should be very proud of yourself – I’m proud of you for it. And you did an amazing job of showing people exactly how much money gets spent on stuff like this. It all seems small but it’s mind-blowing. It’s kind of how I spend money now on eating out, fast food or Starbucks-type places. So your numbers are eye openers for me. Even though I don’t have any debt right now (except a mortgage under $100,000), it is still something for me to look at anew :) Thank you so much. I’m amazed that someone half my age is teaching me so much.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 31, 2016 at 7:44 am

      I’m glad you saw that these numbers could be attached to anything, not just booze, Elizabeth. I’ve certainly spent too much at restaurants in the past, too. Still, likely more on booze/partying… but anyway. It’s so easy to look and see things as small numbers, like $50/month. But then that’s $600/year or $6,000 over 10 years. What did you want to do that you could’ve done if you’d had an extra $6,000? Those are the kinds of things I’m asking myself a lot more often lately. :)

  • Reply Carlton Mitchell March 29, 2016 at 5:59 am

    Hey Cait, I’ve been following you for around a year or so. I’m stoked on how far you’ve come after being such an animal lol. I’m proud of you! There’s parallels between us regarding partying 🙈

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 31, 2016 at 7:45 am

      Haha, thanks Carlton!

  • Reply ANGELA MULLER March 29, 2016 at 6:25 am

    Cait, I’m 69 years old and I love reading your post. I was never a drinker, never smoked or took drugs, though those around me were…just never liked all that stuff…but that doesn’t mean I didn’t squander $$$. I’ve always been a spender…love collecting stuff, buying gifts for people I love, supporting rescues and good causes, etc. I’m divorced and have always been able to take care of myself and raise and educate a beautiful daughter. But, along with living, I was also ageing…and maturity is certainly an eye opener. One day, my brother, trying to encourage me to be more mindful of what I was spending, said, “It would be a shame if you had to die because you didn’t have enough money to live.” A humorous, yet powerful statement, that I think about every time I want to “waste” money.

    I am so proud of you…inspired by you…and look forward to so many more chapters, in both our lives. Stay the course…and “may the force be with you…always”. With respect and admiration…

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 31, 2016 at 8:13 am

      Wow, that’s a powerful statement, Angela! But one that surely opened your eyes, as it has just opened mine. Thank you for sharing some of your story here. I appreciate you taking the time to comment and be part of this conversation :)

  • Reply sheryl mclaren March 29, 2016 at 8:32 am

    Thank you for sharing. This certainly makes me rethink what my total would be on convenience food (my addiction).

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 31, 2016 at 8:15 am

      I’m glad it made you think, Sheryl! And don’t be scared by the number – I don’t feel any shame about mine – but use it as a guide for what you do/don’t want your future numbers to look like. :)

  • Reply chelsea March 29, 2016 at 8:40 am

    What a great breakdown. On a lighter note, it made me realize a potential hidden savings from my fancypants private school. People were equally likely to be in a orgo study group as partying on a Friday night, so I went out more like once a week. I wasn’t in a sorority, so I escaped that cost, but I still did most of my drinking with free frat beer. Most people lived on campus, so there wasn’t a lot of reason to go out to bars or pay for cabs. Aside from maybe a handle of liquor per semester for “pre-gaming”, I don’t remember spending much money at all on partying in college. Same for eating out. Of course, I spent all the money I saved on tuition instead, but at least learning > drinking :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 31, 2016 at 8:16 am

      Huh, that’s an interesting way to look at it, Chelsea! But you’re right that you’ll get far more from learning than partying. ;)

  • Reply Souda March 29, 2016 at 10:51 am

    I really appreciated the honesty in the post and can say I have yet to read anything about this topic, or at least in the way that you have written about it. I can definitely relate as I had also spent the majority of my youth partying binge-style. As much as I cringe about the things I did and the amount of money wasted, and am still paying for, I don’t regret any of it. It seems like anyone that spent a period of their life like that either takes a complete 180 and spends the better part of their life making more responsible and healthy choices or they continue spiraling down a dark path. Proud to say that I have also moved on from that time in my life and only have lessons learnt and some stories to tell. Going through what you did brought you to where you are now and the mindset you have about money too. I know that sounds cheesy but it’s true. I think because of that dark time you know now what you want and what you don’t want to happen again.
    Anyways, congratulations on making such a major life change for the better!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 31, 2016 at 8:17 am

      Yep, I have the same mindset about it all, Souda! No regrets, at this point. The only regrets I used to carry were about the ways I acted in certain situations when I was intoxicated… but I can’t take any of it back, and can only be grateful I am where I am today now. :)

  • Reply BreAnna | Crafty Coin March 29, 2016 at 11:39 am

    Very well written, Cait. It truly puts things in perspective. I will go a month at a time here and there without drinking, for both health and financial reasons, and it always makes such a difference to both! Your story is inspiring.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 31, 2016 at 8:17 am

      Thanks, Breanna. :)

  • Reply Allison Millet March 29, 2016 at 11:55 am

    Great post. All kids should see this! I never drank… I don’t know how people “afford” to drink! Now i should start tracking how much i spend on chocolate bars… Or mcds! Ha.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 31, 2016 at 8:17 am

      Haha, the numbers are probably scary, no matter what we waste money on! Do some example calculations (say $15/week over 10 years = $7,800) and see if that’s what you want to include in the next 10 years of your budget. ;)

  • Reply Giulia March 29, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    Great post you must to be proud of yourself and remember mistakes from past helped you to became what you are now!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 31, 2016 at 8:19 am

      Thanks, Giulia!

  • Reply Maggie @ Northern Expenditure March 29, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    Excellent Cait! There’s also the benefit of being able to get Groupons for cheap because they anticipate you spending the money on drinks! Going out to eat is certainly a lot cheaper when you don’t drink! I’ve never purchased alcohol, but I am always floored by how much people will spend at restaurants on it when I’m with them!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 31, 2016 at 8:19 am

      Never purchased it in your life!? Holy smokes. Now THAT is an achievement, in my books. ;)

  • Reply NDQ March 29, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    I went through a drinking/partying phase myself and I am glad I grew up and wised up. These days, I enjoy waking up feeling great. The money saved is a bonus.

    Good for you!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 31, 2016 at 8:19 am

      The financial aspect is definitely just the bonus – you’re right about that. :)

  • Reply Hazel March 29, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    Great post! that is really reflective and honest. I know what it is like to look back at one’s former self with regret over a now “sunk cost.” At 40, I recently made a list of money I have wasted on various things (cars, vacations, etc.) over a 14-year period and can’t believe the numbers. All one can do now is try to turn it around, and make the next 14 years better.. something you are already doing!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 31, 2016 at 8:21 am

      Oh, cars are a whole other story, aren’t they… I wrote about that a few years ago and the number still shocks me. Vacations, on the other hand, I will never regret. (But I do think I could save more when I’m actually on the road.)

  • Reply Katie March 30, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Thank you so much for your honesty in this post. I know several people who are recovering from drug and alcohol addictions and have several family members who are alcoholics. It’s an incredibly easy hole to fall into and terribly difficult one to climb out of, especially on your own. I really like how you said, “One of the things I’ve learned and had to deal with is that your emotional age gets stuck at the age your addiction kicks in.” This makes me understand my family members who have addictions a bit better. I’m also glad to hear that you’ve been able to grow into someone you’re happy being.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 31, 2016 at 8:22 am

      I’m so glad that sentence helped you understand why others may act the way they do, Katie. It’s difficult for the person to admit (I know I was stubborn about it for a long time), but finally accepting it has helped me come to peace with so much of my past behaviour. The new me is a much better person. :)

  • Reply Tenley March 30, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Just want to say thank you. I’m going to come back to this post over and over!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 31, 2016 at 8:22 am

      I’m glad, Tenley. :) <3

  • Reply Liz March 30, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    I go on temporary suspensions of drinking, but usually it’s related to an upcoming race. I don’t binge drink (anymore) but am very aware of the cost of my glass of red wine- the lack of deep sleep is more costly than the financial cost of the wine.

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 31, 2016 at 8:23 am

      Ain’t that the truth, Liz! I sleep so much better, these days. :)

  • Reply Sofiya March 30, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    I was looking for a way to save money when I discovered your blog last year. I had just started a full-time job back then and now I am sooo close to achieving my saving goals! You have no idea how much your blog posts have helped; I can now have my dream wedding without the use of credit cards or personal loans! I love you!

    • Reply Cait Flanders March 31, 2016 at 8:25 am

      Oh my gosh, this comment made my day, Sofiya. I’m so glad the blog helped inspire you, but YOU’VE done all the work! Being able to tackle a dream goal without having to use any form of credit is an incredible feeling. Please be proud of yourself! :)

  • Reply Our Next Life March 31, 2016 at 12:02 am

    Big virtual hug! I was really moved by your post a year ago, but seeing your updated self-reflection on it, I’m so glad that you feel more at peace about it all, trust and believe in yourself more, and can proudly assert that you’re happy with your decision to stop drinking. And just THANK YOU for sharing. I know it is tough to share the dark stuff, but I know this is helping people who need to hear it. Whether they’re moved by the math or by your story, or just by hearing someone say that there’s life on the other side, it’s to the good. :-)

    • Reply Cait Flanders April 1, 2016 at 7:28 am

      Thank you so much, friend! Also, honestly, this is easy to talk about now… I’m not proud of any of it, but the shame is gone, you know? So I’m happy to talk about it whenever, and am certainly grateful doing so has helped some others. :) <3

  • Reply Becky@Frametofreedom April 1, 2016 at 3:46 am

    Wow. What a great post. Thanks for sharing your story. I am sure so many will benefit from reading this.

    • Reply Cait Flanders April 1, 2016 at 7:29 am

      Thanks, Becky. :)

  • Reply v April 1, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    I’ve recently started cutting down on drinking because I found alcohol triggered my ezcema and asthma, even after one or two drinks. In the short time I’ve been doing this, I have noticed people commenting when I turn down a drink or order a non-alcoholic beverage. The social pressure to drink is everpresent, and I say that as someone who still drinks socially!

  • Reply Broke Millennial April 1, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    I continue to be blown away with how open you are with your readers. It truly feels like a privilege to be able to read your work and I can only imagine the countless people you’re able to help with this honesty.

    • Reply Rose April 13, 2016 at 5:09 am

      I could not have said it better. Truely amazing the honesty in Cait’s writing! The amount of comments proves this blog resinated with many many folks. I’d normaly say CHEERS, Cait but that would be very inappropriate. Well Done! A life where you are experiencing true feelings and not those masked by alcohol.

  • Reply Jen April 1, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    I am so impressed that you made the leap to alcohol-free life. I did “dry January” and extended it through February and most of March, but have been struggling with how embedded alcohol is in the social fabric (which has been amplified since moving to the UK!). I am still toying with this decision, so it is so great to hear your open reflection on the decision. Inspiring, as always.

  • Reply Carry April 2, 2016 at 8:09 am

    Wow. I’m fifteen now; started drinking about a year ago. Not much, just maybe every other month or so, but ervery time it was because I thought people would think of me as a boring rule follower. This was shocking for me to read, just because it was a reminder: How do you want to spend your life? And I also learned that even though you went through so much, you still managed to turn your life around. That’s amazing!!! And now you’re moving into your car and travelling across north America! I don’t think I’ll quit completely, but I’ll wait until I’m legal. Then I’ll see, but I don’t think I will be drinking more than once a year on special occasions. My dad says that one of his greatest regrets is drinking alcohol, but he still drinks a beer almost every day and will get drunk when his friends come over. I don’t want to be that person to my kids.

  • Reply Steve@Padadventure April 3, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    It’s always an eye opener, and why I continue to track things monthly, to see trends. This is a great reminder. Also, kudos to you. Great article and thanks so much for sharing

  • Reply Bianca April 4, 2016 at 2:32 am

    Thank you for your honesty Cait, this was an eye opening read. I have never been a big drinker but I did spend my money on other mindless rubbish (coffee, dining out, shopping, etc). I guess I spent about $100 a week on these things since I was 18. That’s 10 years now at $5200 a year! Yikes. I really want to enter my thirties with a spending habit that is around one quarter of this.

  • Reply Harmony@CreatingMyKaleidoscope April 5, 2016 at 8:00 am

    Great post! I’m really impressed by your honesty. I often think about how much money my husband and I wasted on cigarettes, while destroying our lungs. That’s the thing about these types of expenses – you’re spending money to damage yourself. At least we were able to quit :)

  • Reply Flo April 7, 2016 at 7:22 am

    Thanks for sharing this very honest raw drinking part of your life and it’s expense. I’m sorry to hear that you received “hate” comments or people who didn’t seem to support and respect your decision. I think it’s amazing and it’s inspiring to reflect upon my life. Anyway, although I’m slow at reading your post, I very much enjoy reading them. Thanks for blogging! If you’re ever in calgary, it would be great to meet you or attend some session you may hold. Have a great week.

  • Reply GS April 8, 2016 at 9:31 am

    What a fantastic post. Thanks so much for sharing it and I’m so glad to hear you’re much healthier.

    I do wish people would stop calling binge drinking “partying.” The first time I heard it used this way I was 17 and two people invited me to come “party” with them. Innocent me thought that meant joining another group to have fun, listen to music, dance, or celebrate something. Not get dangerously, terrifyingly drunk. If I had my way, people would just call it what it is.

  • Reply Kurt April 13, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Shocking to see the financial toll of alcohol as you’ve laid it out. I think most of us who drink are in denial about that–don’t want to face the fact! But an even bigger toll–definitely physically and maybe financially–is on a drinker’s health. Alcohol consumption is strongly linked to all sorts of illnesses and to a shorter life span. Of course, and not to be ghoulish, but shortening one’s life does translate to needing less savings, right? :)

  • Reply Mrs. SimplyFinanciallyFree April 13, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Wow. Those numbers, even if they are conservative estimates, are pretty scary. It is amazing how easy it is to blow money when it comes in little chunks but when you add it up it does make a difference. I think it is great that you were able to leave the the partying life behind, are creating the great new life with a bright future, and most of all and look back and reflect on how far you have come and that you are in a better place.

  • Reply Lake Girl April 13, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    I takes courage and strength to give up an addiction. Congrats! I like how you multiply out the cost over 5 years and 10 years. I started doing that when I gave up cable tv. I figure I save $70 per month or $840 per year or $4200 over the last 5 years!

  • Reply W Mallon April 14, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Though painful to read and reflect on, thank you for sharing. I shudder when I calculate how much I have spent on alcohol and all the collateral costs that go with it: taxis, hangover junk food the next day, paying to fix stuff I broke etc, money I lost in friendly poker games that I was too drunk to see my cards, etc. If I could build a time machine I would go back to my 18 year old self and kick him squarely in the nuts.

  • Reply J April 14, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    Wow, such an honest and powerful post Cait! Think what I liked moat about this is the fact that saving money was just a bonus from your decision to be sober. I also gave up alcohol about 5 years ago and yes, it is easily one of the best decisions I’ve made too. No more embarrassing wasted episodes, more money and less belly fat! Haha! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply IndependentSense April 16, 2016 at 12:08 am

    A really amazing, raw and powerful post, not just on the cost of alcohol but on realising what we do and spend money on that hold us back to being the person we want to be. I may not be able to identify with alcohol expenditure but I am realising what makes me tick and what pushes me forward to be the best person I can be and what doesn’t. Thank you for your words and reminding me of being purposeful. Stay awesome Cait!

  • Reply Pat April 20, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Wow! Gutsy courageous post. Your determination against so much social pressure is inspiring. It always amazes me that some people can act almost offended by someone else’s personal decision about alcohol or food (like skipping desserts or cutting out red meat). Whenever I am in that kind of situation I say to myself ‘Whose problem is it anyway? Not mine.’, then let the comments slide. I know how hard it can be. Did any friends or acquaintances join you or at least cut back?
    Thank you for your honesty.

  • Reply ZJ Thorne May 11, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    It’s incredible to quantify it in this manner. I’m glad you were able to make different choices and manage your addiction. I know I’m just an internet stranger, but I have worked with people with addiction issues in the past, and it was incredible when someone overcame. I wish you continued good health.

  • Reply D June 15, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Thank you so much for writing this beautifully honest post. I am so thankful that you had the courage to write this. I love how well you are able to articulate all of the complicated aspects of your relationship with alcohol, outside of money. I was using alcohol as a coping mechanism as well. Instead of doing the hard “soul work” of thinking, dealing, and actually feeling my emotions, I would turn to alcohol to get away. I think it is important to note that your story doesn’t have a catastrophic “bottom” (DUI, lost job, etc.) that made you reevaluate your drinking. I love that you just took a serious, honest, look at your relationship with alcohol and decided “enough is enough”.
    I was able to take a look at myself four months ago and decided, I liked myself better sober. I have a history of alcoholism in my family and realized the only way to make sure I do not become like my father is to stop drinking forever. Sure it is scary and sounds daunting. But it is even scarier to think I could do the things I have seen my dad do, and it is even more daunting to think of living the life he has lived. We need more people to talk about their decisions, so we can have honest conversations about alcohol. Your strength is truly inspiring. Thank you again for writing about this topic.

  • Reply Isabelle June 29, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    I’ve never felt ashamed saying that I don’t drink. I just dislike the taste. I used to drink too much (15 to 22, sometimes every weekend, getting totally drunk just to be “part of”), and after a couple of years I decided to stop. I would drink only to get drunk (I’ve always disliked the taste), and then would be sick, unable to stop myself (I since learned that alcohol addiction and sugar addiction are pretty much the same, and I have a sugar addiction so…). One day my mother told me she was getting scared of my drinking, and around the same time I realized it was making me depressed the day after, so I just stopped. It’s not a problem at all anymore. I can have a drink if I want too, but this happens like once or twice a year, and just for lack of interest. Never be ashamed of this, you are doing an amazing thing for your health and well being.

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