The Best Champagne on a Budget

New Year’s Eve is fast approaching, and for most of us over 21, that means a champagne toast is on the way as well! But bottles of bubbly can be expensive- and if you’re the host of your New Year’s Eve soirée, even just a couple of bottles for your guests can easily take a toll on your wallet.

Luckily, they don’t have to! Between myself and my (very cooperative) family members, we taste-tested and judged 3 budget-friendly bottles: all from Walmart, and all under $10. (Did you hear that? I think it was your credit card breathing a huge sigh of relief.) I also made sure they were all of the extra dry variety, just for consistency.

All 3 champagnes were judged appearance, their “bubbly factor”, their taste, and the overall rating (in case you have one category you’re partial to). Each champagne got very high and very low scores in each categories, but I have averaged all the votes so it’s easy to tell the results. If you’re interested in the voting breakdown, you can find the individual ratings here.

So, without any further ado, let’s get right into the reviews!

BOTTLE #1: Cook’s

Photo via Walmart.com

Price: $7.98/bottle
Appearance: 7.75/10
Bubbly Factor: 8.5/10
Taste: 5.125/10
Overall Rating: 6.625/10

A good portion of the room preferred Cook’s over the other brands. However, it tended to be the parents in the room compared to the Gen-Zs. It received the second highest average score overall. It scored the highest in terms of appearance and how bubbly it was, but scored the lowest for taste.

BOTTLE #2: Barefoot

Photo via Walmart.com

Price: $8.73/bottle
Appearance: 6.625/10
Bubbly Factor: 5.625/10
Taste: 5.25/10
Overall Rating: 5.75/10

No one preferred Barefoot over the other brands, which surprised me because the bottle said it was “most awarded,” and it was also the most expensive (if only by $1.) For being such an iconic brand in terms of cheap wine, I thought it would do better. It scored the lowest in almost every category, but it’s average score never dipped below 5, so it’s still decent.

Bottle #3: André

Photo via Walmart.com

Price: $4.98/bottle
Appearance: 7.375/10
Bubbly Factor: 7.125/10
Taste: 5.875/10
Overall Rating: 7.125/10

André was very polarizing. It had a lot of very high votes and very low votes, but still managed to come out on top for taste and overall. This was also the brand preferred by the Gen-Zs in the room.

OVERALL

While all the bottles were tasty, my personal favorite was André! At $4.98, you just can’t beat the price. If you need affordable champagne for your NYE party (or really any other occasion that calls for it), this is certainly my recommendation!

If you ever want to have your own champagne taste-test, this is the card I handed out to everyone!

Do you have any favorite bottles of affordable champagne? Please don’t hesitate to let me know- I’m always open to trying a new brand!

Happy (early) new year & stay warm-

-K

Why I Need A Budget

I’m a self-diagnosed shopaholic. If I’m within 100 yards of a TJ Maxx or Uptown Cheapskate, odds are I’m going to go in “just to look.” And as soon as I’m inside, no matter what I tell myself, I’m probably going to leave with something that I didn’t come looking for.

In theory, that isn’t that bad. Because in terms of clothing stores, TJ Maxx and Uptown Cheapskate are pretty budget-friendly options. How can those stores burn through my monthly grocery budget and leave me that broke, that fast?

Well, when I go shopping- or more likely, “just browsing”- I end up spending $50+ in one go, leaving my closet happy, but my bank account weeping. And when your monthly budget for everything (groceries, going out to eat, wine, makeup, toiletries) is only $250 total, a few $50 shopping sprees can eat through your funds pretty fast.

In January, after a particularly bad month of personal spending due to post-Christmas money burning a hole in my pocket, I decided that enough was enough. I was going to make myself a budget, and try to stick to it.

To give you an idea of what I was working with, here’s what I spent in January 2019:

It pains me to even look at it, but yep. $188 over my budget of $225. And the biggest negative profit I saw that month was- to nobodies surprise- in the clothing department, with -$121.

Yikes. To say the least.

So for the month of February, I knew I needed to change. Spending $156 a month on clothes alone is not sustainable. So that’s when I made the budget that I’m working with now, and we’ll see how it goes for February:

$225 Total
  • Groceries: $120
    • I think this is reasonable. It’s not the only money I spend on food for the month- I go out to eat and go out with friends, too- so I think $120 for just produce/bread/cheese/snacks/whatever else I eat at home sounds realistic.
  • Clothes: $35
    • This is proving to be the greatest challenge. So far, this category is still at $0 (go me!) but the temptation is so high. I have a beach vacation coming up next month, so I keep telling myself I should save this money and put it towards buying new clothes in March. But the urge to treat myself to some retail therapy is so real…
  • Going Out to Eat: $20
    • Okay, so maybe this is a little unrealistic. As of right now, I’ve already spent $11.47 on eating out this month, and it’s only day 8. Maybe this section will need a little reconfiguring for next month…
  • Going Out with Friends: $25
    • If the “Going Out to Eat” was estimated too low, I think “Going Out with Friends” is going to be to high. I go out with friends- but when I do, we’re usually going out to eat, which doesn’t fall under this category. I think I can easily scale this one down to $15 for next month.
  • Alcohol: $10
    • Luckily, I’m not much of an alcohol person. However, I do have a bottle of wine that I really love: André’s Peach Moscato. It’s only $7 a bottle, so this $10 lets me go through about a bottle-and-a-half a month.
  • Miscellaneous: $15
    • Occasionally, I know I’m going to need to buy something that doesn’t fit into any of the other categories (a birthday gift, for example.) I allocated $15 to this “extra” fund because you never know what’s going to pop up.

And that’s my budget for the month of February! I’m hoping that by keeping track of my finances along the way, I won’t end up with $20 in my account to last me the second half of a month (which I’ll admit, has happened more than a few times.) Once February is over, I’ll share an update on how my budget did and how I’m changing it for February!

Thanks for reading, and feel free to share any of your personal budgeting tips with me! I definitely need them.

-K