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How to Reduce Credit Card Debt with Dry January

During the holidays, we sometimes consume more holiday spirits than usual. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are all holidays in which people celebrate and tend to over-indulge. It’s okay to do that once in a while, but the costs of alcohol can add up over time. In 2013, a nonprofit in the United Kingdom introduced “Dry January,” which is a campaign advocating people to abstain from alcohol for the month of January. Cutting alcohol for a month has many health benefits, as well as saving a significant amount of money. With the money you save, you can eliminate credit card debt, build up your emergency fund, or save for retirement.

American Consumer Credit Counseling likes how financially-friendly Dry January is.

American Consumer Credit Counseling likes how financially-friendly Dry January is.

Benefits of Dry January

  • Detoxing your body from the alcohol is good for your liver health.
  • Alcohol affects your energy during the day. You will feel more energized and motivated at work when you cut back on your alcohol intake. You may even get a raise or promotion by being more productive!
  • Alcohol is not cheap. Take a look at your bank statement at the end of December versus the end of Dry January. You will see at the end of the month how much money you have saved by not drinking.
  • Enjoy the weekends without feeling sluggish after a night out. Wake up on Saturday morning full of energy. If you find you have a lot of free time on the weekend and feel like being productive, make some extra cash! Try driving for Uber or Lyft, or delivering food/groceries through GrubHub or Instacart.
  • According to a 2019 study from the University of Sussex, people participating in Dry January tend to drink less during the rest of the year. This means a better cash balance that you can use to pay off debt and have a better credit score.

How to Have a Successful Liquor-Free Month

  • Stay motivated by thinking about the benefits above.
  • Try non-alcoholic beer if you have to gather in a bar with friends.
  • Try new activities that don’t involve alcohol. Prioritize your overall health and start exercising more. Join a sports club or even start walking or running outside. Start volunteering in your community.
  • Spend more time with friends or family members who you know do not drink, that way the temptation to drink with friends is lessened.

What to Do with the Money You Save

First and foremost, you should use the money you save from Dry January to pay off debt, especially credit cards with high interest rates. As we come to the end of the holiday season, you may have accumulated some holiday debt buying gifts, traveling, etc. Dry January is an opportunity to correct that.

Additionally, you can put some of the money in your emergency fund or retirement accounts to get closer to your savings goals. Of course, if you still have money leftover after paying off your credit card and putting some into savings, you can spend a little on yourself as a reward!

There are so many benefits from Dry January. Give it a try and you will see a positive change in your health and money!

If you struggle to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session today. 


Andi is a Marketing Assistant at ACCC. He is passionate about supporting financial literacy efforts and helping to educate people on the Talking Cents blog!

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