Alcohol Down the Hatch, Money Out the Window

Most of us enjoy an alcoholic drink at one time or another. But if you’re a money-conscious soul, you’ve probably noticed that beer, wine and cocktails are rather more expensive than, say, a class of tomato juice or mineral water when you’re ordering at a restaurant or a bar.

There’s also another money-guzzling aspect to imbibing in alcoholic drinks. Alcohol consumption temporarily influences your cognitive abilities to the extent that you may make unwise financial decisions while “under the influence”.

Financial Effects of Alcoholism: Alcohol Exerts a Powerful Force

You may not immediately realise it, but alcohol is probably the only drink that takes a strong hold over you and influences you for the worse. Being readily water soluble, alcohol can rapidly enter your bloodstream because it moves easily through almost all parts of your body. It transfers through your lipids, cell membranes, skin, heart and many other tissues, but most significantly, it enters your brain.

The powerful effect of alcohol is most acutely felt by the brain. Alcohol acts upon a certain area of the brain that sits between the rewards centre and the logic-plus-memory centre. Masses of dopamine get projected onto this particular part of the brain, making you feel unbearably overconfident, narcissistic and optimistic.

Simply put, this can be a great help to you if you want to let go of your senses and forget your troubles. All these effects consequently can have a great impact on how you manage your finances.

Financial Effects of Alcoholism: Why Drinking Is Bad For Your Finances

Financial Effects of Alcoholism: You Drink away Your Savings

The actual act of drinking is quite expensive, especially if you are drinking at a bar or club with your friends. You may spend hundreds of dollars a day and perhaps even more on Fridays or over the weekends purchasing alcohol for yourself and/or your social circle. Bartenders sometimes observe people competing with each other to spend the most on drinking.

To accomplish this, people even purchase alcoholic mixes that cost a fortune despite their tasting awful. People also participate in contests that involve chugging down excessive quantities of alcohol for sheer entertainment or the high they might get from winning a prize.

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People often make excuses for such actions by pointing to how drinking helps them connect with their friends and family, find a love interest or celebrate important milestones. Aren’t all these things also possible without alcohol? Other drinks like coffee or fizzy sodas don’t cost a lot – so why can’t they be consumed in these situations?

Not only is alcohol expensive to purchase, but there are even more expenses connected with consuming alcohol. The expense of having to take a cab home when you have no designated driver available will help empty your wallet. Feeding the post-barhopping blues after drinking can amount to large restaurant bills. Tipping the bartender and/or the bouncer can add even more to your spending.

Now reflect on how you could utilise the money paid for these unnecessary expenses if it had gone into your savings account instead. This account would be the very same savings that will help you pay off your debts in your old age, pay for you to travel the world, ensure long- term health care and help you cope with retirement.

These savings should be a linchpin of your financial planning since they will provide for your comfort and happiness as you get older. Although it is a myth that alcohol destroys the liver, it is imperative for you to know that the by-products of the breakdown of alcohol do cause some damage to the liver.

This means that too much alcohol consumption can lead to a damaged liver in the future. Ironically, you could well use those savings that you won’t have for expensive medical treatments.

Financial Effects of Alcoholism: Why Drinking Is Bad For Your Finances

Financial Effects of Alcoholism: Drinking Persuades You to Spend

Drinking before you go out shopping can lead to bad retail decisions. Alcohol can cause you to become so carefree that you want to purchase anything and everything you desire. The resulting overconfidence you feel, together with a narcissistic attitude, will prevent you from controlling yourself in the face of temptation.

You will often forget your budgetary limits and the consequences of your spending behaviour. People were sometimes found buying things on Amazon that they would never normally buy or use – after they had been drinking. Similarly, people who had ingested alcohol were found purchasing expensive plane tickets because they suddenly felt like meeting up with someone who lived far away.

Under the influence of alcohol, people may be expected to gamble more. This is why casinos offer alcohol everywhere around the place to their gambling customers. This is also why racetracks make lots of alcoholic beverages available. Betting takes place mostly at bars, if you think about it. Why are all these things being mentioned?

Simple – because alcohol can cause you to make unwise financial decisions. It is important to know that alcohol should not be consumed prior to any event where monetary transactions might take place. Spending money responsibly and wisely requires that alcohol be consumed carefully.

It’s recommended that when you drink alcohol, be sure that you are far away from any location that might attract you to spend money. Choose a watering hole that is far away from a shopping mall, for instance. In case you get the urge to do some online shopping, make sure you keep your bank cards tucked tightly away when you are drinking. You might want to try to do some shopping before you consume alcohol.

If you know that today is your drinking day/night, finish all your shopping in advance of imbibing. If you suddenly feel tempted to drink while shopping, hold onto that thought and finish your shopping first. Only when you’re finished should you head over to enjoy your favourite alcoholic drink.

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C.E.O @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is passionate about finance, education, women empowerment and children’s issues. Anna has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, The Straits Times, Business Insider, INC and The Peak Singapore. She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen). Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).