12 Tips to Save Money on Alcohol

Trying to separate a man from his Budweiser is like getting a gazelle from a lion. If you’re inclined to have a drink now and then, why not save money?

Here are twelve tips to save money on booze.

1. Buy at the warehouse clubs

If it’s:

  • the Superbowl
  • a cookout
  • birthday party
  • a day at the lake
  • retirement party
  • Tuesday evening
  • whatever,

shopping at the warehouse clubs (Sams, Costco, BJ’s) can save you money over buying at grocery stores and liquor stores.

The caveat is if you are buying beer you can’t pick up a six-pack. You’ll have to get an entire case. Some of the microbrews in glass bottles come in twelve-packs.

If you just want a single beer for the evening getting a case at a warehouse club is not your best bet.

2. Costco, Costco Again

The entire inspiration for this article came from a Buzzfeed video comparing name-brand liquor to Costco’s Kirkland brand liqueur. Kirkland is Costco’s store brand in case you were wondering.

So how did the store brand compare to Grey Goose, Captian Morgan’s? etc.?

The tasters frequently could not agree on which was better. And they were tasting straight alcohol . No mixers!

Now let’s be clear – the tasting crew didn’t look like they came out of Food & Wine magazine. But hey, I don’t either, do you? No. Your tasting palette is probably as unrefined as mine.

Mine does kick in when it comes to desserts, but that’s another topic.

Check out the Costco Liquor vs. Brand-Name Liquor blind taste test.

The bottom line is you can save some coin by buying your booze at Costco.

3. Buy in bulk

I don’t think this applies to beer unless you’re buying a keg.

But at Whole Paycheck, if you buy six bottles of wine you’ll get 10% off.

If you’re going to buy six bottles, then yes, why not save 10%.

Usually, I only want one or two. Sometimes my Vulcan logic fails me at the money game:

I should go ahead and buy six, so I can save 10%.

Which makes no sense whatsover. Now I’ve bought another $40 in wine (at least) that I originally didn’t plan on drinking (mental accounting gone screwy).

4. Visit the corner drugstore

Sometimes you can find a deal on beer at CVS or Walgreens.

Who knew?

You do now.

5. Buy ‘second label’ wines

Second label wines are a cheaper version of their more expensive brothers. According to Second Label Wine

The concept of second wines began in Bordeaux in the 18th century as a means for producers to utilize wine that was not chosen for the Chateau’s first label. Rather than waste this excess wine or sell it in bulk, the second label allowed winemakers to bottle and sell this still very high-quality wine under their name and through their distribution channels.

You’re getting wines that don’t get as much love from the winemakers as the first label bottles.

We believe this is where some of the world’s best value wines can be found.

Value – I love it!

6. Date the less popular sister

I love Duckhorn wine. It’s quite smooth. And it has earthy tones. (just kidding, that’s my favorite wine description.)

At a restaurant, Duckhorn will cost you $120 a bottle. So I buy it at Costco where I’ve seen it for $30 a bottle. It’s not something I buy often, but it’s good for holidays and special occasions.

Even better? Duckhorn’s lower priced product called – Decoy!

Price? $19.99

7. Two Buck Chuck

Katie and I threw a wine-tasting party where everyone bought one bottle of wine. Every wine was brown-bagged, and each guest got to vote on their favorite. Prices ranged from $5 bottles to $75 bottles.

Which wine won? $8 Blackstone Merlot from WalMart.

I’ve lost track of how many TV shows I’ve watched where they invite wine connoisseur in to do blind taste-tastes. The comparison is usually a $10 bottle of wine and a $100 bottle.

Unless you’re a trained wine sommelier, like me your nose and taste buds aren’t good enough to figure out the difference.

Which means what?

Buy the $10 bottle!

I’ve had wine that cost $50 a glass and wine that costs $0.50 a glass.

Yes – the $50 a glass wine tastes better. But don’t buy it! That’s too freaking much to be sipping every night. Those are 5-year anniversary dinner prices.

Oh in case you were wondering – Two Buck Chuck is a wine sold at Trader Joes. Check it out, it’s worth the $2 price.

8. Grey Goose is the Golden Goose – for the owners

It’s well documented how Grey Goose increased the price of their vodka to make it appear more expensive and elite. The marketers then went to work to get consumers to believe it.

It worked!

Like Starbucks coffee, in taste test after taste test, Grey Goose fails to win tester over other low-brow brands.

When you buy Grey Goose, you’re paying more for marketing, not for a better product or better flavor. Trust me, you can’t taste the difference.

Wanna bet me? Take an empty bottle of Grey Goose, fill it with the cheapest vodka you can find, and serve it to your guests in whatever concoction you prefer.

A. See if they notice any taste difference
B. Ask them what they think of the vodka

9. Look for store specials

The liquor stores near me always have specials going on for certain products.

If you visit a liquor store, you might as well buy something that’s on sale.

10. Avoid monthly clubs

It’s cool to get a new bottle of wine or case of microbrew. But if you join a wine/beer-of-the-month-club you’re getting pegged every month with another credit card charge.

It’s cheaper to go to a store each month and seek out a deal.

11. Stay the heck away from Napa Valley

I love Napa Valley. I always buy too much wine when I visit.

Part of that comes from obligation – ‘Oh, you let me taste your wine, I feel obligated to buy some.’

Don’t feel guilty. Enjoy your tasting and leave. You don’t have to buy a bottle at every tasting. Besides it’s a pain to pack all that wine in the overhead bins on the plane.

If you do go set a dollar limit ahead of time and stay on budget. It’s easy to get caught up in the experience and have the experience influence how the wine tastes.

Besides after visiting two wineries they all taste the same.

12. Don’t visit any wineries for that matter

We rented a house in the Texas Hill Country with another couple for a weekend of wine tasting and adventure. Oh my! The wines were so spectacular! Earthy tones! Leathery! Buttery! Smells of burnt oak! And blackberries! And exclamation points!

Then we got home!

Uh, this tastes terrible. Bottle after bottle. Twenty-nine bottles of wine to be exact.

Hmmmmm, I remember liking at least some of these during the tastings.

I don’t know what happened between our weekend visit and the following months when all that wine was consumed. Somehow every bottle tasted like *** (insert swearword here).

I love Texas BBQ, but whenever I see Texas wines at Costco, I cringe.

0. Drink less booze


You already knew this tip was coming, right? Useless, you’re thinking.

I hear ya. That’s why the other tips are in here – so you can continue to enjoy adult beverages while continuing to save money at the same time.

You can save a lot of money on beer, wine, and alcohol by planning ahead and shopping around. If you’re going to have a drink you might as well pay less for it, right?

Question: Got a money saving tip? Please share it on Facebook or Twitter.

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