Girl and Tonic blogger: 'Giving up booze helped me buy my house'

Laurie McAllister
Image caption Laurie McAllister said giving up booze gave her clarity on what she wanted and helped her to buy her own home

A blogger has told how giving up alcohol for good has helped her to buy her own three-bedroom house.

Laurie McAllister, 28, said one month she spent £1,000 just on going out, and that her lifestyle in London left her "struggling with anxiety".

In 2016, while in bed with a hangover, she decided she was "done" and started saving to buy a new home in Norfolk.

"There is no way if I hadn't stopped drinking that I would have this house," she said.

While living in London, Ms McAllister said she would splurge on going out to meet friends and getting taxis home. She would also spend lots on food as she was too tired to take lunch into work the following day.

'I'm done here'

"I wasn't very happy - I was drinking a lot, going out a lot and not having the best time," said Ms McAllister.

"I hated how I felt the next day.

"I hated the times I drank a lot and couldn't remember anything.

"Nights that started well, all dressed up and surrounded by my best friends would end in an argument, regrettable texts or a blackout not remembering how I got home."

Image copyright Laurie McAllister
Image caption Laurie McAllister celebrated her birthday in her new home in Wymondham which she moved in to in March

She said although friends would have said she did not have a problem, her alcohol intake was "bad enough for me to change".

"I was struggling with anxiety and drinking was exacerbating that," she said.

"The final time I drank wasn't a big night out, but I woke up feeling like rubbish and thought, 'I'm done here'."

Image copyright Laurie McAllister
Image caption Laurie McAllister five days after going teetotal in December 2016

That day, she launched her blog Girl and Tonic, and wrote about the challenge of remembering she did not need to drink to have fun.

Stopping drinking gave her "clarity", and she soon also noticed a financial benefit.

"I saw quite quickly that I was saving money," she said.

"I opened an ISA and put in what I had left over every month, then when I realised I was near [being able to get a deposit] I put in a bit extra."

She said she could have stayed sober in London, but liked the slower pace of life and the countryside where she grew up in Norfolk.

Image copyright Laurie McAllister
Image caption Ms McAllister said her blog keeps her "accountable and sober"

After initially moving back, she lived with her parents for six months before renting a house with her brother.

She continued working full-time for a digital marketing agency, but also started teaching yoga.

Her family had been really understanding, she said.

"They support my decision to be the happiest person I can be. It's been lovely to have their support and live closer to them."

'Quieter life'

Ms McAllister later moved back to her home county of Norfolk, and saved £10,000 in the first 18 months.

She bought her home in Wymondham, near Norwich, two months ago.

Ms McAllister said although she did not have particularly strong willpower, she helped maintain her resolve by taking up new habits such as reading and getting a dog.

"I do have a quieter life, but I've got a job I like, I love teaching yoga and I walk my dogs every day.

"I'm in a good financial situation and no longer paying rent."

Image copyright Laurie McAllister
Image caption Ms McAllister shares her new home with a lodger and two miniature dachshunds including Margot (pictured)

She said it had also been crucial to tell friends ahead of social events that she would not drink.

"The narrative for me was, 'You're a weirdo if you don't drink' - it wasn't friends saying that but more of a culture.

"I don't really regret anything, but I do look back and think how many nights would have been exactly as fun if I hadn't been drinking.

"I think if people choose to stop, they will also save money.

"I spent it on a house, but I have sober friends who have spent it on travelling.

"For me it's all about choice - you can still be a happy normal person without the booze."

For more information and support, visit Alcohol Change UK and BBC Action Line.

Listen to Sophie Little's interview with Laurie McAllister on BBC Radio Norfolk

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