Spending

How much money you could save by bringing seltzer, not beer, to end-of-summer parties

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Is the remainder of your summer calendar dotted with boozy social obligations? If so, you're not alone. Outside of December, the summer months are when Americans consume the most alcohol, according to data from rehabilitation center Nova Recovery Center. And the parade of parties can be expensive.

If you're looking to avoid a spending hangover, as well as the literal kind, consider bringing a nonalcoholic drink like seltzer to parties for the rest of the summer. An overwhelming majority, or 88%, of those who abstain from alcohol during "dry January" save money, according to research from the University of Sussex in England.

And seeing as alcohol consumption is decreasing and popularity of seltzer is on the rise, a case of LaCroix could not only be cost effective but a real crowd-pleaser, too. "The thing with alternative beverages is, you can be part of the party," says Joy Manning of Better Without Booze, whose Instagram chronicles tasty "zero-proof" beverages, both store-bought and homemade.

It's no surprise that nonalcoholic drinks are going to be cheaper than beer, wine, or spirits. But just how much cheaper? Here's how much you could save by bringing one of these nonalcoholic drinks, instead of booze, to the rest of this summer's parties:

If you buy LaCroix

The most popular flavor of LaCroix in the office is grapefruit, according to data from Priceonomics. At Target, an eight-pack of Grapefruit LaCroix is $3.69, or $0.46 per can. To compare, a six-pack of Blue Moon at Target is $8.99, or $1.50 per bottle — three times as much per drink.

The savings hold for wine drinkers, too. At Target, a 25.4-ounce bottle of Barefoot pink moscato is $5.99, or $0.24 per ounce. That's six times pricier than LaCroix, which is about $0.04 an ounce.

So if you opt to bring two packs of LaCroix instead of two packs of Blue Moon to a party this weekend, you could save $10.60. Through Labor Day weekend, assuming one party per weekend, you'd save $42.40.

If you buy Spindrift

At Walmart, an eight-pack of Raspberry Spindrift, a brand of seltzer made with real fruit juice, is $4.98, or $0.62 per can. A six-pack of Goose Island from New York grocery delivery service Fresh Direct rings in at $12.99, or $2.17 a bottle.

At Total Wine & More, a $3.99 bottle of Double Dare Moscato works out to $0.16 per ounce, almost three times as much as Spindrift ($0.06 per ounce).

So if you opt to bring two packs of Spindrift instead of two packs of Goose Island to a party this weekend, you could save $16.02. Through Labor Day weekend, assuming one party per weekend, you'd save $64.08.

Extra credit: Make a shrub

If you want to bring something to the party that can jazz up your seltzer or other partygoers' drinks, Manning suggests making a shrub — a mixture that's equal parts fruit, sugar, and vinegar.

All you have to do is combine the fruit and sugar, let it sit for 24 hours, then stir in the vinegar and strain the mixture, she says. Add a spoonful of this to your seltzer for a nonalcoholic cocktail. For alcohol drinkers, there are plenty of recipes that pair shrubs with spirits like bourbon or gin.

As a DIY project, this comes in fairly cheap — and you might already have some of what you need in your pantry or fridge. If not, at Target, a 16-ounce bottle of store-brand vinegar is $0.99, a four-pound bag of sugar is $1.69, and one pound of strawberries is $2.69.

All told, making a cup of shrub, enough to add an ounce to eight drinks, would only set you back about $1.69, or another $0.21 per drink.

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