How much can I save by quitting alcohol?

Dry July is over and plenty of Aussies who have been off the grog for 31 days are really looking forward to getting to the bottle shop after work this week.

In 2019, more than $10 million has been raised for the fight against cancer this year by 44,112 Aussie drinkers who vowed to stay dry for just one month. Since starting in 2008, 160,000 Aussie drinkers have participated and raised more than $37 million for cancer support.

More than 75 cancer organisations have received donations from Dry July.

Each participant in Dry July raised, on average, $235.43 each for cancer sufferers. That money is spent on transport, accommodation, entertainment, hospital resources and other items that help cancer sufferers int heir fight to beat the disease.

That’s a very good enough reason on its own to get off the grog for just 31 days. But there are great health benefits for participants as well.

“Our participants report sleeping better, having more energy and productivity and of course, no hangovers,” says Dry July.

With all those great health and charitable benefits coming out of Dry July, it seems almost crass to talk about how much money participants in Dry July saved for themselves.

So … let’s do it.

Let’s work out how much money Dry July fundraisers saved personally, by getting off the grog for just a month.

How much alcohol do Australians consume?

80 per cent of Aussies drink alcohol, reports the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s 2016 National Drug Strategy Survey.

The most popular type of alcohol in Australia is wine (34 per cent of the market), followed by regular strength beer (20 per cent).

The average Australian consumes their first drink at age 17 and one in four drinkers exceed Department of Health ‘single occasion risk guidelines for drinking’ at least once per month.

The Department of Health says: “On a single occasion, you should not drink more than 4 standard drinks over several hours.

“This will reduce your risk of injury and death on that occasion.”

1.9 million Aussies ignore that advice completely and consume more than 6 standard alcoholic drinks per day. They are at risk of contracting an alcohol related disease.

Not surprisingly, half of all recent drinkers have tried to moderate their drinking according to the Drug Strategy Survey, mainly for health reasons.

How much money do Australians spend on alcohol?

The average Australian household spends about $32.25 per week on alcohol, according to Dry July, who are using data from the National Drug Survey in 2016.

Over one year, that means Aussie households are drinking through $1,677, on average.

July is a long month with 31 days so the average Australian household would spend about $142.82 in an average July on alcohol. And there are plenty of Aussies spending a lot more than that.

If all 44,112 Dry July participants saved $142.82, the Australian alcohol industry lost $6.3 million in sales.

How much can I save by giving up alcohol?

If you want to go on with it and dump the grog for good, the money is not the best reason. You will feel the health benefits almost immediately and the long-term risks, like liver or brain damage, heart disease, high blood pressure and increased chance of cancer will decline.

But the money savings are a nice bonus. A reward for having a go and doing something healthy for yourself.

If you save $1677 in one year, over the next 20 years you will save $33,540 on today’s prices, which is a trip around the world.

You can increase this reward by setting up a regular savings plan, using the money you used to drink.

Starting with $32 and depositing $32 per week for 20 years will generate interest of $7,646 if interest rates on savings accounts stay about 2.0 per cent, where they are right now, according to the InfoChoice savings plan calculator.

That will leave you with a balance of $40,958. Looking around for a good term deposit or finding a higher interest rate savings account will improve this outcome. But it’s all a reward for the real benefits – your health.

The information contained on this web site is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser. If you or someone you know is in financial stress, contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

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