Even if you’re not already a dedicated “dryathlete”, you probably know someone who’s taken part in Dry January at some point. Around the world, people are taking the New Year as an opportunity to “reset” their relationships with alcohol – and it’s really not hard to see the benefits. Shelving the bottle for a month can do a lot of good for your daytime energy levels, your sleep patterns and your health in general. It’s not just the physical benefits that count, either. People participating in Dry January report having better mental focus as well. As much as anything, it’s about understanding what effects your drinking habits are having on your mental, physical and even financial health. Whether you’re worried about the cash in your wallet or the inches on your waistline, Dry January could see you shifting the scales in the right direction for 2021.

Just taking the financial side of things alone, an average British couple probably spends over £200 on alcohol in a standard month. Cutting out the booze for the whole of January would mean they’re no longer basically flushing that cash straight down the toilet, one way or another. Your own benefits would obviously depend on what you’re splashing out on drinks each month, but even more moderate drinkers could easily save at least £65 by giving Dry January a shot. A dedicated pub-crawl veteran, on the other hand, could be raking in a whole lot more. For self-employed people with a Self Assessment tax return deadline looming at the end of the month, that could well be a life-saver.

While we’re all still weathering the storm of COVID-19, it’s worth looking into ways of clinging onto our cash. When you make a resolution to cut out alcohol for a set amount of time, you get a glimpse of the way your life looks without it. That goes just as much for your finances as your fitness. Over a lifetime, a typical drinker in the UK blows upwards of £50,000 on booze. Pub drinkers are obviously paying more per unit than the people staying home, but either way that’s a lot of cash to be necking. Even a month of going without could easily serve to hammer a stubborn dent or two out of your finances. Once you see the difference that month has made, you might not even decide to stop there. Rolling over into a Dry February could land you with enough spare cash for a pretty decent little getaway.

It might seem like keeping the alcohol flowing was the only way to keep “COVID Christmas” merry in 2020, but it’s worth sparing a thought for what it’s actually cost you. Across the UK, the festive period sees people knocking back around 67 units of booze each week. Yes, we should absolutely be thinking about the health implications of that. There are over 60 health conditions directly linked to alcohol consumption, making it the UK’s biggest risk factor for people aged 15-49. Given that the maximum recommended consumption is 14 units per week over at least 3 days, you start to see why there’s a problem. Even if the immediate health statistics don’t worry you, the same way you manage your money, you should be thinking a little more long-term about things. By skipping one month of booze per year, you’re stitching a lot of extra fabric into your financial parachute. By the time you hit retirement age, dedicated dryathletes could easily see themselves as much as £20,000 better off. That’s pretty much an extra £1,000 per year in retirement.

So, where do you stand on the Dry January idea? Which are you happier propping up – a bar or your physical and financial future? It really isn’t a massive commitment to give it a go. After all, how many of your other New Year’s resolutions actually leave you with more cash in your pocket – and don’t even involve getting out of breath?

You can read more about the Dry January scheme at https://alcoholchange.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/dry-january. While you’re jumping online, remember to get in touch with RIFT to handle your Self Assessment or tax refund paperwork. 2021 could be a fresh start for your financial fitness, so make the most of it with RIFT.

RIFT have been in the business since 1999. Find out for free today if you're owed a tax refund from HMRC.