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5 Unhealthy Habits that are Killing You and Your Budget

5 Unhealthy Habits that are Killing You and Your Budget

According to NerdWallet, “Median annual household income has grown 20% over the past decade, while the cost of living has increased 18%”. This is good news! But, unfortunately the bad news is, the average U.S. household credit card debt is $15,654.

And whether the reason is due to medical bills or unnecessary purchases, credit card debt comes with a price. The interest payments will keep you tied down and unable to invest in your future. 

It is clear that in order to move forward, debts must be paid off. And behavior must be modified. Check out my previous post on Behavior Modification for more information. Basically, the best way to change your behavior is through your habits. Science has proved that it is impossible to totally eradicate a habit, but it can be replaced by an alternative.

Kill two birds with one stone by focusing on unhealthy habits to change that are costing you money. Here is a list of unhealthy habits that not only hurt your health but also your wallet. If you can create healthier alternatives, you can effectively save more money and do your body a favor.

5 Unhealthy Habits that are Killing you and your Budget

1. Smoking

The benefits of quitting smoking for your health are immediate. The American Cancer Society states that just twenty minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. And within a few weeks your blood circulation and lung function improve. By maintaining this bad habit, you are purposefully ingesting toxins. These chemicals weaken your body by handicapping your immune system. And because tobacco smoke can damage cell DNA, you are increasing your chances for cancer cells to form while lowering your body’s ability to defend you.

Another reason to quit is the price. New York City leads the nation in cigarette prices and they believe that, "Tobacco tax increases are one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking and other tobacco use, especially among kids”. According to the Tobacco Free Kids campaign, “every 10 percent increase in cigarette prices reduces youth smoking by about 7 percent and total cigarette consumption by about 4 percent.” Depending on your state, the price can vary from as much as $5 to almost $15. If you smoke a pack a day, by quitting you can save up to $465 a month!

2. Gambling

There is a difference between gambling for fun once in a while and a gambling habit. Gambling in moderation means you go on vacation, or some special occasion, and you want to be entertained. The amount you budget to play with is purely for entertainment. Meaning you can afford to lose it all. You do not need that money to go towards debt payments, bills, or funds. And you have the self-discipline to stop once you’ve reached that budgeted amount. I also want to add that it is only worth it, if you enjoy the time you spent being “entertained”.

Now for the unhealthy habit of gambling. It’s interesting that U.S. gamblers spend a large chunk of money on lotteries, and instead of in casinos. CNN shows Americans love playing the lottery. In 2014, Americans spent $70 billion on lottery tickets. The scary part is that most of those participating, do not have the healthy habit of budgeting their lottery expense.

According to a Duke University study, the poorest third of households buy half of all lottery tickets sold. The Fool states, it’s mostly due to the marketing of the almost-impossible dream of buying a one-way ticket out of poverty. Therefore, those who can least afford to purchase lottery tickets, end up gambling the most. For those not able to afford enough food, spending money on lottery tickets will not feed you.

Even if you have the financial means to budget lottery tickets, your chances of success are so low, you may be better off spending that money on something else. According to Bloomberg research, the average loss is roughly $0.40 on every $1.00 in tickets purchased.

3. Television

According to Business Insider, the average American adult spends 35 hours watching TV (both live and DVR) per week. That’s almost a full-time job’s worth of hours. That statistic doesn’t even include social media time.

In his book How Not to Die, Dr. Michael Greger talks about a study where researchers followed nine thousand adults for seven years. They calculated that every additional hour spent watching TV per day may be associated with an 11 percent increased risk of death. And by TV, he means screen time in general, which includes playing video games. The risk comes from the sedentary behavior associated with enjoying them not from the electronics themselves.

It's bad enough the habit leads to a shorter life-span, but you are shelling out cash for it too. Not only did you have to pay for your TV, and the electricity to power the TV, you are probably also paying for cable, Netflix or Hulu. And to top it off, the commercials may tempt you to spend even more money on items that you probably don’t need.

The 35 hours a week can be time spent being productive. Think of all the things you could do with that kind of time! You can start an exercise class, be active instead of choosing the sedentary behavior. If you are curious about how much exercise you need for a healthy lifestyle, check out my previous post here. And if you are having trouble getting started on your fitness journey check out this post.

4. Consuming Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are any liquids that are sweetened with various forms of added sugars such as brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, etc. Examples of SSBs include, but are not limited to regular soda (not sugar free), fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened waters. According to the CDC, these SSBs are the leading sources of added sugars in the American diet. It is associated with weight gain/obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney diseases, non-alcoholic liver disease, tooth decay and cavities, and gout.

According to Business Insider, each additional can of soda you drink per day, increases your risk of obesity by 1.6%. And people who drink more soda increase their chance of developing Type 2 diabetes by up to 80%. But how much can this unhealthy habit cost? Business Insider states that the average American drinks 50 gallons of soda and other sugary drinks in a year. This amounts to about $350 yearly and about $21,000 in lifetime costs.

5. Drinking too much Alcohol

We have all heard of the beneficial effect of drinking a glass of red wine a day. I recently discovered the second part, and it made me slightly upset, because it changes the meaning of the first part. It appears to be beneficial only for those who are not taking good care of themselves already.

In the published paper, “Who Benefits Most from the Cardioprotective Properties of Alcohol Consumption-Health Freaks or Couch Potatoes?” researchers followed ten thousand men and women for seventeen years to assess their drinking and lifestyle habits. “Health freaks” were defined as those who exercise thirty minutes a day, doesn’t smoke, and eats at least one serving of fruits or vegetables daily.

They found that one to two drinks of alcohol did lower the risk of heart disease for the “couch potatoes,” those living unhealthy lifestyles. But for those who lived healthier lifestyles showed no benefit from the moderate alcohol consumption. Don’t think this means you can be a couch potato, watch 35 hours of TV and have your two glasses of red wine and call it even.

According to Business Insider, men who consume at least three drinks per day up their chances of dying from any type of cancer by 41%. For women who drink two or more drinks per day they increase their risk of dying from cancer by 20%. And how much are you paying for these drinks? If you are consuming three alcoholic beverages each evening, and each of those drinks cost about $4.00, you’ll spend $263,000 over the course of 60 years.


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Unhealthy Habits that are killing you and your budget. Replace these bad habits with good habits. Save yourself and your money.
Stop these unhealthy habits that are killing you and your budget. See how much money you are wasting on these bad habits that harm your health.
These unhealthy habits are super expensive. They are also killing you. Replace these bad habits with good habits. Save yourself and your wallet.
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