How to Be a Wine-o on a Budget
Happy National Drink Wine Day, the happiest of all days. If you’re on a budget, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to celebrate. We’re so often told that we have to spend a lot of money in order to be happy, or beautiful, or loved. (I’m looking at you, beauty industry!) That is not the case when it comes to wine, in fact, I am staunchly against buying expensive wine.
Here’s how to unleash your inner wine-o without breaking the bank:
1) Drink at home.
If you order a glass or bottle of wine at a restaurant or bar, you’re paying far more than if you bought a bottle at the store. The price is about two or three times more, actually! Establishments can buy a bottle of wine for, say, $6, and then sell just a glass of it to you for at least that much. Not only that, but you aren’t always sure what you’re getting if you order the house wine during happy hour. So skip the overpriced glass of mediocre wine, and drink at home this year. You’ll be more comfortable and you’ll save a lot more money. To make it even better, invite friends over to celebrate with you.
2) Buy cheap wine.
When I was on a very, very tight budget, I exclusively bought Trader Joe’s wine for $2.99 a bottle. People made fun of me but I don’t regret it! Honestly, most people either can’t tell the difference between cheap and expensive wine OR they prefer the cheaper wine. So there’s no reason for you to spend over $20 a bottle, unless you really want to. I have since increased my spending to around $4.99 a bottle. Even if you spend $9.99 on Apothic Red, you’re still spending less than many people. Here are some great affordable wine recommendations to start with.
3) Exchange wine you don’t like.
This never occurred to me before, because I was raised to be very polite and not cause a fuss (right, ladies?). But last weekend, I witnessed two people order the same type of wine at a bar and then return it, because it tasted terrible. They didn’t want to pay for something they weren’t going to drink or enjoy. It’s just like returning a dress that didn’t fit you well, or a meal that is served cold. You’re paying for something, and you should get your money’s worth! So if you order a glass or bottle that you don’t like, ask for something else. It’s very unlikely that you would be turned down.
4) Join a wine club.
Not all wine clubs are financially accessible. Many of them are very expensive and high-end. However, more recently, the wine club business has become more competitive and affordable. I personally am a member of Winc (formerly Club W). It’s a great option if you tend not to know what kind of wine you might like. You fill out a series of questions to determine your palate, and Winc recommends wine to you accordingly. Bottles are typically $13 each, and if you order at least four, shipping is free. (To get $13 off your first order, use this link!) Wine is recommended and shipped to you each month, but you can cancel at any time. Learn more about wine clubs here.
5) Build wine into your budget.
Many people think that in order to be financially savvy, they can’t treat themselves. I call BS! What’s the point of living if you’re never going to have fun or take care of yourself? If it’s important to you to drink fancy, expensive wine, that’s okay! But you need to build it into your monthly budget. Figure out how much money is coming in, and how much is going out in terms of your fixed expenses and other costs. From there, pick a number that feels good and that is practical. If you know you typically spend $100 on wine each month, don’t budget for $50. On the other hand, if you know you spend a lot on wine every month, but you have other financial goals to meet (like paying down debt), perhaps you should lower that number.
Maggie is a Certified Financial Education Instructor and financial coach for women. Her life’s mission is to give women the support and the tools that they need to take control of their money, break the taboo of discussing debt and income, and achieve their goals and dreams. She does this through one-on-one financial coaching, monthly Money Circle gatherings, and speaking engagements. Passionate about many issues affecting women, Maggie also serves on the board of Collective Action for Safe Spaces, is a member of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington’s Developing Leaders Program, and was trained as a salary negotiation facilitator by AAUW.