How To: Cut Down Your Bar Tab!

Don’t Go Out! Go cold turkey. Move to the forest and buy a cabin with all that pocketed scratch, and live off the land… Mmm… Yeah… Log cabins… That sounds like too much work. Pass.

Cold turkey is a good option, but extreme changes such as the ol' cold turk are incredibly hard to sustain long-term, and it doesn’t promote positive habit development. We also encourage long-term drinking and eating in socially acceptable settings, because this is not the look.

Option 1: Look at your bank account every day.

If you find yourself overflowing with anxiety every time you look at your bank app, or see it pop up in your type predicting search bar, the time has come for you to lasso your fear and give it a big ol’ kiss. Seeing how and where you are spending money is the first step to curbing your bar or restaurant tab, or any tab for that matter, but we’re focusing on going out here. If you start small with looking at your statement every day, you can track your habits, and begin to develop a budget or a plan to curb, or phase out what you eat and drink over time. Which can lead to hundreds or even thousands of greenbacks going back into your pocket annually.

Option 2: The envelope method

I’ll admit, this method is a little weird since it was developed prior to the advent of plastic and digital currency, but it continues to be quite effective if you do it correctly. Once you have a clear idea of what you what you spend at the bar and chasing J-Gold’s taco truck trail (RIP lege) on a monthly basis, and you have set your new adjusted figure (10% less, 20% less, 50% less if you’re feelin’ eccentric), set that money in an actual envelope or a sub-checking account and when it runs out, no more going out for the month! This is another strategy that will allow you to build a habit of saving more by spending less, while keeping your tasting muscles and social life strong and limber for the battles to come.

Option 3: Know what everything costs

Market research and simple economics is the name of the game here. It ain’t sexy, but nothing gets me jazzed more than knowing when I’m getting a deal on my nights out. One of the cornerstones of business and economics is buy low and sell high. Whether you like it or not, the game ain’t changing any time soon, so start being a better player! Start by getting familiar with the mark-ups imposed by different venues. If you see an Absolut Martini (which should cost no more than $4 anyway) at a bar for $12, and you see that same cocktail at a club for $25, quit hittin’ the clubs! At least on a regular basis. This happens usually because of product homogeny and the experience factor from place to place. If venues offer diverse menu options (with food being the big or main driver) they can afford to drop the mark-up on things like alcohol since they’re not relying on one tangible thing for sales. When drinks are the only option present, and the experience or vibe is one of implied decadence, be prepared to spend a little more because of the baller vibe being factored in, and the reality of one entity controlling the only oasis for miles around.

Option 4: Dine and drink in

Now that you have an idea of typical market prices in your noggin, and have an idea of how bar and restaurant prices are structured, do you ever want to go out again? Of course! But, perhaps sparingly. Lucky for us, many world-class bars and restaurants have been offering cookbooks and recipe guides to extend their incredible experiences straight into your kitchen. The only catch being that your personal time and energy get factored into the experience, not theirs. Fantastic I say! So rather than going to an establishment and racking up a fat $100 tab on food and drinks, invest $30-40 on a legit cookbook, replicate multiple items for under around $25 per person (if you feel like living deliciously), and you’re paying yourself back in 1-2 nights. Sure, you’re not having an experience provided to you, and that’s a bummer. But in my experiences, creating your own experience always makes things taste better!

Tim Maher