Avoiding Hangovers and Empty Wallets: Headaches Galore

You might have just awakened and found this paper draped over your face to keep yourself warm while you slept in the bushes outside your house—to you, I say Happy New Year. Let’s try to avoid this predicament next year.

According to network television and radio hosts, bars are the requisite location to celebrate New Year’s Eve. (At the very least, bars are preferable to freezing to death in an alley.) The same location often seems required for other holidays, birthdays, Spring Break, and weekends. Bars can be problematic places for spending. In your reckless enthusiasm to appear cool to your new best friends, you might find yourself spending more than you can afford. Here’s a quick tip from my wife: Bring just the cash you plan to spend, and leave the cards at home. If you only bring ten bucks, then you can only spend that ten bucks. (Unless you charm other people into buying everyone a round; in that case, celebrate their generosity and hope they aren’t spending themselves into debt.) Here’s another idea: try the drink special if it’s a good price. I usually grab a beer, so I’ll check if they differ in price. Sometimes there’s a special on something I’ve never had, so I might save a buck and I’ll give my palate something new to try.

Personally, I find bars frequently too expensive and permanently too loud for my enjoyment. On New Year’s Eve, you’ll find me celebrating with friends, crooning Dan Fogelberg and ritually shredding newly worthless calendars at a house party. Depending on your hosting style, a house party is typically less expensive than a bar, but not always. If you feel the social pressure to keep the hors d’oeuvres and a variety of alcohol flowing, and earn an occasional noise violation citation, the expense might outpace the bar. My wife’s thrift tip for house parties: Plan a signature drink, so you’re only buying a couple bottles of alcohol, instead of aiming to please everybody. (If you’re attending someone else’s party, I recommend bringing pretzels and brown mustard. I’m not the greatest guest.)

Even if you drink alone on New Year’s Eve (and every other day of the year), you can probably find a way to stretch your funding and avoid a few headaches, metaphorical and otherwise. It’s astonishing that physical health and financial health are often a virtuous cycle. Between each highball of Glen Campbell or Glenn Close whisky, have yourself a glass of water. You’ll probably avoid a hangover due to remaining hydrated (you’ll need salt, too, which is where the pretzels come in.) You’ll also likely feel a bit fuller, and won’t drink as much whisky, meaning you can savor more of it another day without buying another bottle.

Regardless of where you spent your New Year’s Eve, dear reader, take heart. Your first assignment is to have hope for the year ahead, knowing that you will be wiser financially and better prepared than last year.