Harmful Costly Habits: How Much Are You Spending on Your Vices
We all have our vices. Whether it's fast food binges or a java addiction, those habits can put a sizable dent in our wallets. Here's a look into some of the most harmful costly habits, how much you could save if you mixed things up and tips on how to cut back.
Common Vices to Avoid
- The Lottery: Those $2 scratchers can quickly add up. According to CNN Money, adults spend an average of $325 a year on lottery tickets. And that doesn't even include gambling trips to Vegas or a nearby casino.
- Caffeine: Typically, each American doles out $1,100 on coffee each year. If you break it down, that's about $3 a day. The cost of a medium (grande) coffee at Starbucks is $2.45, while a medium latte is $4.15. If you're stopping by a coffee shop at least once a day for a caffeine fix, you could be spending up to $1,515 a year.
- Cigarettes: In addition to the potential health concerns, a nicotine habit poses risks to your budget. The average cost of a pack of cigarettes is $6.28, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and can be more depending on where you live. If you're a pack-a-day smoker, that tallies up to $43.96 a week, or $2,292.20 a year. At that rate, over a 10 year period you're looking at spending a grand total of $22,922 or more as the price of cigarettes continues to rise.
Fast Food: A typical U.S. household spends about $3,008 a year on food away from home, or $250 a month according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you spend $5 on a quick bite for lunch during the week, that's $25 a week or $1,300 a year. Do that twice a day, or splurge on a $10 meal, and that's $50 a week or $2,600 a year.
Here's how to go about cutting back on some of those harmful costly habits:
Monitor Your Spending
If you're unsure about how much a vice is costing you, use a money management tool to monitor how much you spend on a particular habit. It could lead to some surprising discoveries. Many budgeting apps allow you to track your spending from a single retailer. For instance, if you're overspending on coffee, monitor how much of your money is going to Starbucks each week.
Set a Limit
Once you understand your current spending habits, you can set daily, weekly or monthly limits as to how much you'll spend on a particular vice. You can do this by either allocating a certain amount in that category or setting alerts on your credit or debit card.
Find Cheaper Alternatives
Another way to stay under your newly established limit is trying the "swap it, don't stop it" approach. To reduce the price tag of a costly habit, opt for less expensive options. Try using the coffee maker that's collecting dust in your cabinet, and save visiting coffee shops for when you need a special pick-me-up.
Your vices may be costing you more than you expected. By being aware of the financial damage these harmful costly habits are doing, you can make changes to reduce your spending.