5 smart ways to save on wine, beer and spirits

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Few things are more relaxing than an "adult" beverage at the end of a long, hard day. A glass of wine or a bottle of beer can be just the tonic to lift your own sagging spirits.

In fact, the average American consumes 9 liters — or around 2.4 gallons — of alcohol annually, according to a 2105 report by the World Health Organization.

Some people love to sip a cold brew on a hot day. Others prefer a mixed-drink with dinner. And then there is wine — my personal favorite — which grows ever more popular among Americans.

The amount of wine consumed in the U.S. nearly doubled from 1994 to 2015, when Americans imbibed 913 million gallons of vino, according to the Wine Institute.

Whatever your drink of choice, we remind you that alcohol must be enjoyed in moderation. Limiting your alcohol consumption is not only good for health — it's a wise way to ensure the well-being of your wallet!

Another way to keep your wallet sober and sprightly is to employ the following tips for cutting the cost of wine, beer and spirits.

1. Don't buy alcohol on Saturday

Who knew that your favorite beer and wine is more expensive on some days of the week than others? The folks at cash-back shopping site Ibotta crunched the numbers and determined that Saturday is the worst day to purchase spirits. As Forbes reported:

According to the shopper-rewards app Ibotta, consumers pay 9% more for beer on Saturday than on Monday and 6% more for wine than on Tuesday.This appears to be the first-ever data to show that by purchasing different products on different days, consumers can save cash.

So, mark your calendars, friends. Because as it so happens, carefully timing your beer run can go a long way toward increasing your savings.

Also see 12 ways to slash your grocery bill:

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Buy in bulk
Even if you don't think you need a bulk amount of an item, you can always find a way to use it, especially if it's a dry good or item you can store for a long time. It'll save you down the road.

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Memorize rock bottom prices
You may have to jot down the prices you pay for certain items a few times before you can gauge the maximum price you should pay every time you shop for that item.Eventually, you'll commit it to memory.

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Research specific stores' policies
Certain grocery stores will price match or honor deals from other grocery stores, while some might have certain designated deals on different items on certain days of the week. Research before you shop.

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Buy a mix of name brand and generic brand products
For dry goods and condiments, stick to generic brand. For products like meat and dairy, stick to a brand you trust.

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Skip out on anything prepared, pre-packaged or pre-sliced
It's almost always more expensive than buying bulk ingredients and using them to prepare on your own. 

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Leave the kids at home (if possible)
"How did eight boxes of fruit snacks get into the cart?"

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Don't buy boneless chicken or meat
It will cost you the price of the meat plus the cost of preparation. Buy with bone-in and prep the meat yourself.

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Take advantage of "buy one, get one" deals
Especially if they're items like meat or bread, which can be frozen and stored for quite a while.

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Plan meals around when things go on sale
Instead of planning out your meals for the week and shopping for the appropriate ingredients, figure out when certain items go on sale, buy them and plan your meals around those ingredients.

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Look at the unit price
It's possible, for example, that buying two boxes of 10 granola bars is cheaper than buying one box of 20, based on the price per unit.

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Look up, then look down
Grocery stores tend to stock their most expensive items at eye-level. Look at the top and bottom rows for cheaper items.

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Skip out on personal care items
Your best bet for these kinds of items is drugstores.

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2. Buy in bulk

Buying alcohol in bulk offers the same advantage as buying just about anything else in bulk — you save cash. Many people believe the savings on alcohol are among the best reasons to purchase memberships at warehouse clubs such as Sam's Club, Costco and BJs.

Of course, the key to making sure you really are getting a deal is to check the unit price you pay. Every savvy shopper knows a deal is never a deal simply because the store insists it's true. Do your homework, then reap the savings.

3. Purchase boxed wine

All of us have romantic visions of wine poured from a bottle during life's special moments. And in such situations, bottled wine may indeed be the way to go.

But if you drink wine often, switching to a boxed variety can save you a lot of cash. In fact, Epicurious says boxed wine is "insanely cheap" and contends that you can get 3 liters of good wine in a box for around $30. That's equivalent to four regular-sized bottles.

Heather Levin at Money Crashers offers another good reason to choose boxed over bottled:

Another big advantage to buying a boxed wine is that it doesn't allow air to touch the wine. Air quickly destroys the flavor of wine, which is why you need to drink a bottle within a day or two after you open it. If you can't drink it fast enough, the wine is wasted. Boxed wines stay fresh for six weeks. So, less is likely to get wasted because you have a lot more time to drink it.

4. Be smart at the bar

Foolish spending mistakes can cause you to pay more for the alcohol in your home than you should. But that problem is compounded when you go to the bar, where drinks are much more expensive.

Again, a little planning can go a long way. Try to time your visit so that at least some of your drinking time falls during happy hour.

If you are with friends, order pitchers of beer or margaritas, or split a bottle of wine. These options are likely to be cheaper than buying individual drinks.

5. Drink less

Yes, drinking can be fun. And life is awfully boring without a little joy.

But there are many other ways to have fun without spending money on something that is here today, and gone tomorrow.

For example, you could hike through a park, swim at your favorite watering hole or bike down a new trail. All of these activities are fun and free. And none will leave you with a hangover.

Still not convinced? A six-pack of Budweiser is $6.64 at my local Walmart. If you and your significant other go through two six-packs a week, you've spent $690.56 over the course of a year.

Now, take that amount annually for 20 years and invest it in a stock index fund returning 10 percent annually, which is roughly the S&P 500 return since 1928. After two decades, you will have accumulated $48,152.75.

Keep it up for four decades, and that $690.56 annual investment will have turned into $367,454.62.

Are we having fun yet?

Do you have ideas for saving money on alcohol and wine? Share them by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

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