It’s What You Can’t Count That Cost You the Most.
“Not wasting money is the best way to save money.”
― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
We all understand the cost of alcohol when we go to a restaurant for dinner, and what would be a $50 meal turns into a $150 meal because we decided we needed that a bottle of wine and those two after-dinner drinks.
The financial cost of alcohol for small things like this is easily apparent, as most people can quickly see the increase in charges on most bills when a few alcoholic beverages are added.
Accordingly to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend about 1 percent of their gross annual income on drinking.
Alcohol is an ideal product to sell because it’s extremely challenging for some people to stick to only one. So that decision to have ONE drink and only increase your bill by $8 can quickly balloon into wondering why you decided to order three more drinks and two shots just to “keep the night rolling.”
To give you a better perspective, here are some numbers that will give you a sense of how much money you could be saving with a bit of alcohol-consciousness and how that cost could multiply with time.
AT THE MACRO LEVEL
In the U.S., it is estimated that the cost of excessive alcohol use is upward of $249 billion dollars in 2010.
These costs are not related to the direct prices of the purchases of the product. Instead, these costs are focused on the external factors that are related to this activity.
Just to reiterate, these costs are related to EXCESSIVE use. This is usually associated with some sort of binge drinking (four or more drinking for women; five or more drinks for men in one setting).
The cost breakdown is divided into losses in workplace productivity (72%), healthcare cost treating issues related to excessive drinking (11%), law enforcement cost (10%), and losses from vehicular crashes (5%).
There is the belief that this number is a bit underrepresented as many people are known not to be as forthcoming as it relates to how much they are drinking and the potential damage done.
So while the healthcare bill comes in already at a whopping $28 billion, there is a good chance it is way more than that.
From a state by state comparison, the highest state comes in around $35 billion with California, while North Dakota averages about $488 million.
Also, when you look at how this cost is broken down, the burden is generally placed on the government and, subsequently, taxpayers.
It has been estimated that about 40% of the cost ($100.7 billion) was picked up by state or federal governments in the form of things such as Medicare and Medicaid payments, as well as the cost of the criminal justice system.
As shared, much of this relates to binge drinking and the effects this could have on someone mentally and physically over the course of time. In 2018, it was estimated that about 14.8 million people were diagnosed with alcohol use disorder, while less than 5% of people usually seek help.
What this leads to are a number of people who are put in the hospital for alcohol-related illnesses that could’ve been prevented if someone would’ve caught this earlier.
It has been estimated that anywhere from 25–40% of patients (not including those in there for maternity reasons) are there because of alcohol-related issues.
These costs continue to go up over time and don’t just stop with the alcohol abuser, as the children of alcoholics are also known to stay in the hospital up to 62% longer than other children, something that could lead to even more psychological-related healthcare problems and cost in the future.
AT THE MICRO LEVEL
So how does this compare to the individual level?
For the individual, the monetary cost of using alcohol is pretty easily apparent. You only have to check your bank account after a weekend of partying with some friends to know that adding alcohol to any weekend usually increases the cost of that weekend by 30–50 percent.
However, the damage to the individual can be so much worse due to the negative compounding effect of how it can hold one back from achieving various things in your life.
As shared above, one of the biggest culprits of the cost of alcohol to society is the loss of workplace productivity (72%). What this basically means that people who don’t show up for their job because they are hungover or show up and perform poorly at their job because of said hangover cost the government about $179 billion dollars.
While your individual portion is only a small part of this, one still has to recognize that going to work hungover or not showing up to work because of a long night on the town will lead to a decrease in workplace performance and productivity.
And while there are many people who are able to still excel in the workplace because they are able to keep their alcohol-infused night under control, there are also a number of people who make it work each day but are only performing at three-fourths or half of their usual day to day productivity level.
While this usually won’t get you fired, it also doesn’t usually allow your work to stand out above your peers. When most people are battling a hangover at the office, they are doing everything they can to just make it through the day.
What this often leads to are half-hearted efforts at most things that are just good enough to not get noticed as being of inferior quality but not good enough for anyone to take notice of them as well.
This could also lead to someone being so caught up in trying to weather the storm of the hangover and make it home to relax that important details could be missed on various reports or during meetings.
One’s concentration will probably not be as good as normal, and there may be numerous opportunities to set oneself apart in a meeting with a great idea that are completely missed.
Over time, what this typically does is create an environment in which one becomes used to doing at par or slightly below par work and doesn’t become known as someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty.
This lack of commitment to excellence could be the thing that is holding you back from either getting that promotion you desire or achieving that sales goal for which you’ve been striving.
The monetary damage created by you not being able to bring your A-game to the table every single day will compound over time, as you’ll get passed over for promotion after promotion or opportunity after opportunity because of not performing at 100% every day.
It’s hard to put a specific price tag on this, but one promotion or opportunity can be the difference between excelling through a company to achieve all of your goals or being the person that is always wondering why they never get the breaks in life.
Breaks can come on any day or time of the week. The question often is, will you be in the right mental state to take advantage of them?
We have all accepted that alcohol is going to add a few dollars to the bottom line of any receipt, but what many of us don’t recognize are all of the various life costs that we never realize we are paying.
Whether it’s missing out on that promotion, entrepreneurial opportunity, or just saving a bit more money to be able to invest and create a better future for ourselves, the number of financial advantages that come with giving up/controlling alcohol are numerous.
And while it may seem like no big deal to decide to throw back a few drinks to add to your tab’s bottom line, the actual reality is that it can end up costing you so much more.