Ask BB2 readers: Part 2. My plan to save money on beer and homebrew.

Part one summarized the comments of the readers who commented on the question.
How does a financial crisis change your beer/brewing habits?

Today I'm writing about my situation and conversation with my wife on the subject. My experience to this point compares to those expressed by readers. Largely my habits have been unaffected. Chiefly concerned about friends coming over and stocking up to be the good host I recently purchased cases of beer and bottles of mead without hesitation. With regards to homebrewing, I'm in a bit of a lull right now for various reasons. Suffice to say I haven't really felt too affected.

Unaffected I was, until now. I suppose it shouldn't take something as big as a financial crisis to get me to think more about saving money, but, I'll take my inspiration where I can. My wife and I started a discussion of fiscal responsibility. First we reviewed some of the larger expenses like car insurance, eating out, groceries and then miscellaneous spending. So far so good. Of course miscellaneous spending made me think of movies, road trips, computer gadgets, cigars, homebrewing. Yikes, homebrewing and beer. As one of our readers said, "Don't mess with my beer." Should I go there? Will she go there? Did we have to go there? Throughout the discussion she played it very cool. In fact it left me wondering whether she would even bring up beer and homebrewing. Perhaps she felt as I did that these were non-descretionary items? Suspicion took hold of me. A wife often knows her husband too well. The absence of this topic must be by design. With this new realization in mind I planned my counter strategy. Of course, this is where it began to fall apart. Discussing everything but the subject on my mind weakened me. Like a moth to the flame my mind kept returning to beer and homebrew. I couldn't bear it any longer, "You know I've been thinking. I could stop buying beer and just make it. That would certainly save us some money." There, I said it. Without warning words straight from that place deep down inside. A place where fiscal responsibility wins out. Did I mention this is a very deep and dark place?

So, that's part of my plan. I've avoided treating beer and homebrewing as descretionary items for long enough. For some fool reason I think this will be good for me. I should be able to save money and have my beer too. After all I've been thinking about how to control beer spending for over three years. I think it has something to do with my beer/homebrew blogging ;-) Here's a list of beer related things I've spent money on over the years.
  • ingredients
  • equipment
  • more equipment
  • cases of beer
  • bottles of specialty beer
  • cases of specialty beer
  • beer dinners
  • festivals
  • website stuff
  • books
  • magazines
  • eating out at brewpubs like The Sly Fox, Victory, etc.
  • ...and so on.

You get the point. I have lots of opportunity to spend on beer and homebrewing and therefore save money as well. Now for the most part I have figured out how to balance out my spending. I haven't been to a beer dinner in a long time. I don't buy specialty cases ($100+) of beer for trading anymore. I don't even have a "beer cellar" anymore. Well there are few homebrew barleywines down there, but, that's it. So in some ways I cut out the big ones already. What's left?

  • ingredients
  • equipment
  • cases of beer
  • bottles of specialty beer
  • website stuff
  • books
  • magazines
  • eating out at brewpubs like The Sly Fox, Victory, etc.

I'm getting down to the bare bones now so this is going to be hard. Here's my plan. I don't know if I can stick with it, but, I think its worth a shot. For the next three months I will;

  • blog about how my plan is working or not
  • use up all the brewing ingredients in my inventory
  • use homegrown hops and propagate yeast
  • continue to buy in bulk, but, with a budget
  • no new equipment
  • no new books/magazines
  • limit the visits to the brewpub (need a goal here, once/twice a month?)
  • don't buy commercial beer for home consumption

Yeah, that last one is a tough one. Especially for a guy who likes to invite people over on Friday night. So that's my plan and well hopefully I'll be sticking to it. Wish me luck. What does my wife think? I imagine she's rolling her eyes in disbelief. ;-)

Progress Update: Over the weekend. I drank Bryan's beer while harvesting hops and didn't visit a brewpub! So far its working ;-)


Anonymous said...

"don't buy commercial beer for home consumption"

Ouch! This would be a hard one for me to give up. So often I hear someone talking about either a new ale or one I've been dying to try for several years.

Also, sometimes I buy beer for inspiration in my homebrewing - a taste or some other ale nuance to strive for.

I will admit I've cut back on commercial beer recently, but when I get into an awesome bottle shop that has stuff I can't buy locally, I sometimes have out of body experiences and just go into a buying frenzy. I lose control. :)

Jason said...

Hey, good luck! I think you can do it. It just gives you an excuse to brew more "hey, I'm almost out of beer". Although, it's always nice to have a few commercial beers once in a while.

You should start trading your friends your hombrew for some comercial beers they buy, so you can still have some. Just a thought.

Travis said...

To answer your first question, I drink a lot more, therefore I brew more. :-)

Sorry I've been quite, this is my busy season, just two more weeks and I am back to brewing!

Adam said...

mark, I'm about to lose control. I'm in Pittsburgh visiting and I really want to stop over at Church Brew Works or Penn Brewing. Maybe just for one...

jason, interestng idea. Thanks for the support. GOtta get brewing.

travis, welcome back :-)