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Cutting Alcohol: The Less-Than-Obvious Benefit

Almost one year ago, on my birthday to be exact, I decided to eliminate alcohol completely from my weekly diet. I was not a heavy drinker. I would drink one bottle of wine over the week (4 glasses), and maybe two glasses of scotch whiskey on the weekend. I stopped drinking for two main reasons: eliminate the unnecessary from my expenses and to explore the experience of being fully conscious before I complete a half a century in this world. As a means to follow my progress, I put in the equivalent of the money I spent a week on alcohol into a clear vase and religiously stocked it every week. I estimated my consumption of alcohol as about 30 dollars a week, and 50 dollars on special occasions, which I estimated as three times a year. So, I put in that amount in the vase.

Now, almost a year later, I counted the money and have saved $1,580 bucks. A handsome amount. With this money, I booked a trip for my wife and I to Las Vegas, payed for with the money I used to think I needed to buy that was a necessary condition of my life. I wonder the amounts spent by the vast majority of people who have money problems and consume alcohol. Those who complain that they don't have enough money for their kid's programs, or that they cannot pay for a car problem, or the electricity gets cut because of a lack of funds, many times fail to realize that there is spending in their life that is unreasonable. The main argument I hear is "I deserve to reward myself some drinks" or "It relaxes me." I understand the rationale. But does it really make sense.

Alcohol is an easy substitution for frustration of being unable to get the things you really want. Alcohol allows the brain's activity to slow down and even helps increase serotonin - an important happiness-producing neurotransmitter. However, the same is produced with full engagement in one's community and family as well, and it has the benefits of creating a growth-condition in the home.

To achieve full sobriety, there needs to be a goal. There needs to be a process. There needs to be a vision. Here is what you need:

1. Imagine what you will do with the money you save. Make an estimate of what you spent per week on alcohol. If you drink a 12-pack per week, that will be about 13 dollars a week. If you buy beer at the bar or restaurant, and some for home on the weekend, you probably spent 50 dollars. Add it up, but be honest with yourself.

2. Be consistent. Establish a day of the week when you will put the money in the vase. Friday is usually best.

3. Get a clear vase. Make it clear because it allows you to see the rolls of green bills get thicker and thicker.

4. Put it in a place where only you can see it. Tell the family it is off-limits. Don't use it to pay for other things. If you want, put half of it in a separate envelope for unforeseen problems. That will save you lots of stress.

5. Enjoy the freedom of having money that was not there the year before. Imagine going to the place where you can enjoy yourself to pay for the hard work you did all year. There is an experience you will remember.

When you stop drinking, you will find that associated habits and routines become less motivating. Learning to grill without drinking was something I needed to get used to, and many people share the same pull. You just do something different. Going to dinner now becomes less motivating, and making food at home is more attractive (and healthy).

I'll be in Vegas for my birthday. I am not going to consume alcohol there, since I no longer have a taste for it, but my wife and I will enjoy some of the best food available within a two-mile radius that the United States has to offer. When I get back, I will again start my saving vase, and we'll see where we will end up traveling to this time next year.

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