January 31st means two things: firstly, the dreaded day on which your self-assessment tax return is due. And secondly – and probably more cause for celebration – is the fact that it’s the final day of Dry January. For those who gave up alcohol for the month, tonight – being the last day of January – is the last day that they need deprive themselves any longer. (Let’s face it: you might need a drink after wading through the long-winded HMRC process, after all).
But is the whole ‘Dry January’ thing a gimmick? Perhaps, to a certain extent. On the other hand, it certainly won’t do you any harm. There’s a wide array of health benefits to giving up alcohol – and just think about what going sober for a month might mean for your wallet. Research from Macmillan Cancer Support showed that the average Briton spends around £787 per year on alcohol, which works out at just over £65 per month – if you’re classed as ‘average’, that is.
Men tend to drink more – and therefore spend more – than women, and if you live in a city where prices are relatively high, you’ll end up spending a whole lot more. Say you have a glass of wine every evening with supper, and like to buy something a bit nicer than plonk – how about £12 a bottle? If that’s you, and you’re getting through two bottles of wine a week, Dry January will have saved you £96.
If you’re someone who ends up in the pub after work once or twice a week, the savings could be even bigger, given the mark-up on alcohol in pubs and bars. And it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s not just the price of alcohol that makes a night out expensive. Once you’ve had a few, it often ends up being the round for everyone, the portion of chips, the taxi home, that make the whole night a very pricey one indeed. And what about once you’ve got home? Even the vice-president of Ebay has admitted that the reason his website is busiest between 6.30 and 10.30pm is because bidders get a little more enthusiastic when they’re under the influence.
What we’ve been talking about here are the immediate costs to your wallet. But alcohol-related illnesses and injuries are also estimated to cost the NHS around £3.5 billion per year; a cost which, of course, ends up coming out of the taxpayer’s pocket. When you add it all up, it’s almost enough to make you extend Dry January into a Dry 2018. Anyone for a cup of tea?