Save a Surprising Amount by Quitting These 4 Bad Habits

By Andrea Cannon on 12 May 2016 0 comments

We all have our bad habits, but do you know how much your vices are costing you? Whether you have the budget for it or not, bad habits are extremely costly — both to your wallet, and your health. Here's how much you could save if you gave up your vices.

Smoking

Yearly cost: $2,321

One pack of cigarettes costs between $5 and $13.50, with the national average being $6.36. Smoking just one pack a day at $6.36 will cost you $2,321 per year. However, the American Cancer Society determined that the real costs of a pack of cigarettes are closer to $35 per pack, when you consider the health-related costs to you.

While this number is already shocking, you will also need to consider the additional costs associated with smoking, such as increased medical expenses and insurance costs. In fact, insurance companies can charge smokers up to 50% more for the same annual coverage as a non-smoker. According to Cigna, smoking may make it difficult for you to qualify for medical insurance at all, with good reason. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, quitting smoking before age 40 can reduce the risk of death associated with continued smoking by up to 90%.

Life insurance policies will also be significantly more expensive for smokers. Non-smokers also receive a range of money-saving benefits, and the costs to smokers can go on and on. If not for your budget, then consider cessation to save your lungs and improve your overall health and wellbeing.

Cigarette smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in America, so break the habit as soon as you can. In fact, smoking can reduce your lifespan by at least 10 years, but if you quit smoking before age 40, you can regain most of that time back. (See also: Here's How Rich You'd Be if You Stopped Smoking)

Drinking

Yearly cost: $1,976

The top 10% of drinkers in America drink an average of 10 drinks per day (or two bottles of wine per night), but let's assume a more modest number like one drink per day, or two bottles of wine per week. The cost of drinks can vary widely, depending on what and where you imbibe. For instance, the average bottle of wine enjoyed at home costs about $9 per bottle, while one fancy cocktail at the bar can set you back $10–$12. Let's assume you drink two bottles of wine per week and two drinks at the bar every weekend; you would be spending at least $38 per week or $1,976 per year.

This is a very modest estimate, as most moderate drinkers will admit to spending far more than $38 per week on alcohol, but you can see how the costs can really add up. For a more accurate estimate, consider using an alcohol spending calculator to determine what your average spending would be.

While these numbers are already shocking, you will also need to consider the additional costs associated with drinking. For instance, consider cab fare, tips for the bartender, hiring a babysitter, and the increased medical costs. Also consider that getting convicted of a DUI or DWI can cost around $10,000 thanks to legal fees, court fines, towing, and treatment. If not for your budget, then consider kicking your drinking habit to save your kidneys and liver, and to improve your overall health.

Gambling

Yearly cost: $400

The average American spends about $400 per year on gambling (Vegas, anyone?). This doesn't factor in online poker, which can be wildly addictive and expensive. If you're spending just $100 per online session, once a week, that's $5,200 spent per year.

If you buy lottery tickets, this is an even bigger waste of money as the odds aren't in your favor. In fact, the chances of winning the Powerball jackpot are one in 292 million. As the saying goes, you're more likely to be struck by lightning. If you're spending just $1 per day on lottery or scratch-off tickets, then you can add an annual cost of $365 to your average gambling debt.

Dining Out

Yearly cost: $432$4,879

Dining out could break your budget faster than many other vices. Restaurants and bars can mark up drinks by as much as 400%, and both fast food and restaurant options are now more costly than ever. While there are ways to save money at the restaurant (such as taking coupons and sharing a meal), you'll save the most by eating at home. If you're a foodie or simply enjoy eating out, just try to cut back to dining out once a week.

Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese and according to George Washington University, the yearly cost of being overweight is $524 for men and $432 for women, while the yearly cost of being obese is $4,879 for women and $2,646 for men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity can also lead to a number of related health issues, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, liver damage, certain types of cancer, and mental illness. It may also make it difficult to apply for health insurance and life insurance coverage.

Why You Should Stop Now

It's important to kick your bad habit now, because every day lost is more costly than the next. Thanks to our old friend, compound interest, the earlier you begin saving the money that you would have normally spent on bad habits, the more you will accrue in accumulated interest over time.

Just imagine everything you could buy — or how much you could save — by kicking your costly habit. It may be difficult in the beginning, but studies have shown that, on average, it takes just over two months to kick a bad habit. Then, you can start watching the money pile up. (See also: How to Break Bad Habits)

Did you kick a costly bad habit? Please share your experience in the comments!

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