smart spending

How much do bad habits cost?

Drinking alcohol
Drinking alcohol © Ramon L. Farinos/
  • Yearly cost: $1,560
  • Savings after 30 years of compounding interest: $123,331

Unlike smoking, casual drinking won't drive up insurance costs. But heavy drinking can cause liver damage and other health issues, says CFP professional Anna Molin, an independent insurance agent with Huntington & Wheatsworth insurance and financial services firm in Towaco, N.J.

"They will do a blood and urine specimen (during insurance medical underwriting)," she says. "(Alcohol) is tested in there, same as drugs. That could increase your premium," though how much depends on the level of the damage.

Drinkers who get behind the wheel and land a conviction of a DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI, (driving while intoxicated) will also have to cough up around $10,000 in fines, bail, towing, insurance, legal fees, treatment and license reinstatement costs, according to the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.

Drinking can still take a financial toll even if it's done in moderation. Consume five drinks per week at a cost of $6 per drink (budget more if you're swigging cocktails versus beer or wine), and you'll rack up a $1,560 tab by the end of the year. If you instead invest that amount annually, after 30 years, you will have amassed $123,331, assuming a 6 percent return.


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