smart spending

How much do bad habits cost?

The price of bad habits
The price of bad habits © Alexey Lysenko/

A cigarette here, a few drinks there and choosing potato chips over baby carrots all add up. Indulging in vices is often portrayed as the fun part of life, but letting bad habits go unchecked can have a deleterious effect on your wallet -- not to mention your health.

But don't worry; you can change. A study by researchers at University College London in the United Kingdom shows that it takes a little more than two months on average to break a bad habit and form a new one.

The first step to kicking a bad habit is to understand exactly how it impacts you. Here's how a few of the most common bad habits wreak havoc on your budget every year. Bankrate shows how you can reverse the trend and amass some serious money instead by annually investing those funds in a long-term savings vehicle that returns a modest 6 percent a year on average.

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You might think your drinking and smoking habits are just for fun, but indulging in your vices can take a toll on your health and your wallet.

Studies show that it takes a less than three weeks to break a habit and to start a new one. While your cigarettes can cost anywhere from $5 to $7 a pack, they have additive costs with the habit. Smoking drives up life insurance costs by 20 percent and increases health insurance expenses. It can also impact your ability to qualify for both.

While casual drinking doesn't drive up insurance costs, heavy drinking can cause liver damage and other health issues. Drinking in moderation can still affect your wallet.

Say you consume five alcoholic drinks per week with the cost around $6 per drink. That can add up to $1,500 a year. If you invest that amount annually, you can have $123,331 after 30 years. Indulging once in a while might not lead to financial ruin, but as the old adage goes: "everything in moderation."



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