Are you a drinker? Do you like a nice bottle of wine with a good meal, or perhaps a glass of wine in the afternoon while you sit and contemplate your day? Maybe you like to have a few drinks with friends after work.
The issue with alcohol is that it’s expensive – ridiculously expensive. If you’re trying to find money to fund a retirement fund, pay off student loans, or build up an emergency fund, paying for drinks makes that difficult. A half-decent glass of wine can run you $9 or more at a bar nowadays. A beer will cost $5 or more at a bar. Even if you buy a bottle of wine and drink at home, you’ll pay $7 for the cheaper stuff and $15 or more (lots more) for the better stuff. Go out for a couple of drinks on Friday and Saturday nights, plus maybe a few during the week, and you’ll be spending more than $2500 per year on alcohol. That’s enough to halfway fund an IRA and make yourself a millionaire by the time you’re sixty if you were to invest it religiously.
The thing is, alcohol itself really doesn’t cost that much to make. It is the fact that the people who make the alcohol first get paid, then the distributor gets paid, then the grocery store or the bar gets paid that causes drinks to cost so much. And if you’re buying drinks at a bar, you’re also paying the server in the form of a tip, which further adds to the cost. Everyone who touches that bottle of beer or wine adds to the cost.
You can therefore greatly reduce the amount of money you spend on alcohol, yet still enjoy a drink with friends, if you make it yourself. Unfortunately, you’ll still need to go to the bar or the liquor store for distilled drinks. Those are tightly regulated since the government depends on the tax revenues from those. But you can still make beer or wine yourself, only paying the sales tax on the ingredients.
From what I understand, you can make some really great beer at home – far better than the industrial stuff you’re paying $5.00 each for at the bars. I’ve never made beer, but understand it really isn’t all that hard and a great way to make some friends since there are a lot of passionate home brewers out there. I’ve also sampled some of their products and it was as good as any microbrewery output I’ve tasted.
I did get into making wine at home after we received a gift certificate for a wine class. We thought we were going to make a wine at the shop which would then be stored/aged/ and fermented in a big barrel at the shop. Instead, we were sent home with a couple of 1-gallon carboys, some brewers’ yeast, some yeast nutrient, and some pectin enzyme. We were also given a recipe that used frozen grape juice as the base.
Can I make a cabernet rivaling those produced by Napa Valley? No. But I can produce a couple of gallons of wine better than your average $10 chardonnay or white table wine for about $1.00 per bottle. I also understand that you can buy wine kits in the $50 range that can since you can get grape juice from the same regions as the big winemakers, so you could probably make a good red wine, but you then would need large containers and also would need to have barrels to age the wine in. I’m just not that into winemaking, but some people are. If you were, I think you could probably make a bottle that would rival a $25 bottle you could find in the store for maybe $1.50 to $2.00 per bottle using one of the kits.
Using the same two one-gallon carboys, I can make about 10 bottles of wine every two to three months. (The amount of time depends on how warm the house is, since ambient temperature affects the fermentation rate and the wine taste.) Many people upgrade to five to ten-gallon containers after they get started. A five-gallon container would produce 25 bottles of wine every two to three months for about the same amount of work. (You can legally make up to 100 gallons, or 500 bottles of wine per year per adult in your household in most states, which seems like a whole lot. We drink maybe a couple of bottles a month, so there is no reason for us to “go big.”)
So, there is no reason to trade your future retirement for a few drinks today. People pay way too much for alcohol, and there is no reason to do so. It might be worth the inflated price of a drink to enjoy the nightlife at a club or two, but you may find that it is nice to have an evening in with friends and a bottle of your own wine or homebrew some weekends too.
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Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning advice, it gives information on a specific investment strategy and picking stocks. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.