Several months ago, Mr. SOC and I were riding in the car, chatting idly. He happened to mention that he had been behind someone at the grocery store who was buying a carton of cigarettes. He was in shock at the price, something like $40. We did the math, and if you smoke a pack a day, that's $120 a month. How awful to have such an expensive addiction, we thought, clucking our tongues and feeling superior. And then I did a few calculations in my head and said, "You know, we spend more than that on beer." [Insert ominous sound here.]
Both of us enjoy drinking two beers every night. One before dinner, a lovely way to officially announce to ourselves that the workday is over and the evening has begun, and one around 9 p.m., to celebrate that the chores are done, the kid is in bed and we can relax. I have long since gotten over worrying that this makes us alcoholics. We both skip the early beer once a week to go to the Y, and if for some reason we are unable to have a beer one evening (very, very rare), we get antsy but don't go into convulsions or anything. If we are alcoholics, our addiction is no more damaging to our lives than an addiction to caffiene or diet soda. But I have worried for years about the money that we spend on beer.
Neither of us likes cheap American beer, so our habit costs us about $150 per month. That is a lot of money. That is money we could be saving for Mia's college education, putting into our retirement fund or using to take all the fabulous vacations we feel we can't afford. So, after our car conversation, I suggested that we do a trial. We go down to one beer a night on weeknights. I did the math, and this would save us about $40 a month. I promised Mr. SOC that if we felt it was ruining our lives, we would give it up. We would just try.
Well, last night the trial period officially ended. I called it off. I don't want to live without my two beers. After months, the craving never lessened. So every night went one of two ways: drink the beer and feel guilty about it, or not drink the beer and pine for it and, often, compensate by eating desserts, drinking tea, etc. (probably canceling out at least half of the money savings). Last night, I finally realized I could get out of this cycle of guilt and craving for $40 a month. It sounded like a pretty good deal to me.
So today I declare that I am giving up guilt over my beer consumption. For years, it has been a niggling thing in the back of my mind, and life is too short to spend flogging yourself about something so insignificant. Yes, there are lots of loftier uses for that $150 a month, but I have to live my life every day, and I want to enjoy it. We both work and are responsible with money. We have no credit card debt, no car payments, no online shopping habits. (Yes, we have a sailboat. Shut up!) We don't have cable. We have the cheapest, crappiest cell phones imaginable, and the paltry few electronic gadgets we own are all hand-me-downs from my gadget-adicted mother. We buy very few new clothes, we scrimp on eating out and, now that we are mostly vegetarian, we eat beans, pasta and eggs rather than steaks. So let us have our beer, dammit! We deserve it.
I can't tell you how good this feels.