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Cost of Bad Habits

The Lifetime Cost of These 13 Bad Habits

Bad habits are not only bad for your health, but they also do quite a bit of damage to your wallet. Business Insider calculates the lifetime costs of a number of bad habits.

Buying a pack of cigarettes seems like an inconsequential decision. It costs around $5, and smoking one pack probably won't give you cancer. But over the course of a lifetime, the costs of your bad habits can add up to something scary.

RELATED: See 12 times that being cheap will cost you

We crunched the cost of various bad habits over the course of 60 years (starting at age 18). For all figures, remember the math changes depending on how much one partakes.


Playing the lottery

The megajackpot might sound enticing, but playing the lottery is a bad idea. Assuming the average return on a $1 ticket is 47 cents, buying a buck ticket every day for 60 years will set you back $11,600. Even people who win big often lose in the end.

Unfortunately, it's the people who can't afford to lose who tend to play: 85 percent of lottery participants are low-income individuals. Online poker and other forms of gambling can be even more dangerous.

Paying your credit card bill late

Now that monthly fees are capped at $25, a late payment every month for 60 years will cost you $18,000. This bad habit can also torpedo your credit rating.

To keep yourself in the clear, financial experts recommend using the automatic bill pay option provided by most companies.

They also advise scheduling automatic bill pay a day before the due date so the money stays in an interest-earning account for as long as possible. But if you fail to pay the bill on time, then you have some options.

If you don't have the money to cover your bill and try to pay it anyway, your bank's overdraft protection will kick in and transfer money around to cover the cost of the bill.

Withdrawing cash from out-of-network ATMs

Banking fees can really add up. If you pay a $3 out-of-network ATM fee twice a week for 60 years, you're losing nearly $19,000. We know it might be quicker to grab money from the nearest ATM, but there really is no excuse for this one.

With all the national and international banks in existence, you can easily switch to a bank with multiple ATMs — or one without fees at all.

Read on for more.

Drinking soda

The average American drinks 50 gallons of soda and other sugary drinks in a year. In terms of 20-ounce bottles, that amounts to around $350 in annual and $21,000 in lifetime costs.

For each additional can of soda you drink per day, your risk of obesity increases by 1.6 percent. As if that weren't bad enough, people who drink more soda increase their chance of developing Type 2 diabetes by up to 80 percent.

Your online porn membership

People don't pay for pornography like they used to, but someone must be keeping the web's oldest business afloat. The typical premium site costs $29.99 per month. Over 60 years, this bad habit would cost you $22,000.

But pornography could still cost you even if you don't pay.

Dr. Victor Cline, a member of the University of Utah's Department of Psychology, has counseled patients with porn addiction and seen them ruin their marriage and wallet as a result. One man lost $1,000 because he couldn't stay away from porn.

Other similar vices can be even more expensive. A $20 lap dance every week will cost you $63,000 over 60 years.

Your morning latte

A $4 drink every morning will cost you $88,000 over 60 years.

Depending on what you order, it will hurt your waistline, too. Even a grande "skinny" cinnamon vanilla latte comes in at 130 calories, worth 13.5 pounds of calories if you drink it every day for a year. A regular version of this drink is even worse, with 330 calories and 8 grams of saturated fat.

Not packing your own lunch

Whether it's leftovers, a salad, or a delicious bento box meal, packed lunches are a great way to save money — and not packing them is a great way to lose it.

Buying lunch in Manhattan costs around $10, compared to a lunch costing around $4 when made at home. This added cost over 60 years of work days will cost you $94,000.

If you order take-out for dinner, too, then your lifetime food cost could get out of control.

Eating fast food

Although it has some of the lowest quality on the market, fast food can be surprisingly expensive.

But the real cost is to your health. A Big Mac by itself contains 55 percent of a day's supply of saturated fat, 45 percent of your sodium, and 590 calories. One daily serving of french fries can lead to a 3.3-pound weight gain over four years.

Eating a large amount of fast food can also increase the liver enzyme alanine aminotransferase, which might be a sign of liver damage.

All told, the obesity caused by fast food, among other factors, cost the United States about $147 billion in 2008, covering everything from medical costs to decreased productivity at work.


If you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day (at the average US price of $5.29), then it will cost you $116,000 over 60 years. Casual smokers burn a lot of cash too, with a pack a week costing $17,000 over your lifetime. Meanwhile, cigarette taxes keep rising, meaning your habit will probably cost more in the future.

And of course there are other costs.

Nearly 90 percent of lung cancer cases are a result of tobacco use. Men who are heavy smokers (more than five cigarettes per day) have a 24.4 percent chance of developing lung cancer. Female heavy smokers have an 18.5 percent chance of developing lung cancer.

Chewing tobacco, dip, snuff, and other tobacco products have similar costs in terms of money and health.

Letting food go to waste

A family of four that spends $175 per week on groceries loses about $40 a week because they let that food go to waste. Over the course of 60 years, the cost of that wasted food would add up to $125,000.

If you find yourself constantly throwing out old, moldy food at the end of the month, then change your habits.

Make a grocery list and stick to it when you go food shopping so you don't overbuy. And ward against freezer burn by wrapping each piece of food in its own bag to reduce the amount of air you let in every time you reach for a leftover.

Drinking bottled water

Sure, it isn't unhealthy like soda, but bottled water will still burn a hole in your pocket. In fact, it can be more expensive. Drinking two $3 bottles of water per day will cost you $131,000 over 60 years.

And it's not worth it. The folks over at Money Blue Book caution that bottled water isn't always better than plain old tap water. The bottled-water industry isn't subject to strict uniform standards governing the filtration process, which means quality assurance standards fall across the board.

Smoking weed

Scoring a half-gram of marijuana for $10 might seem like a bargain. But that $10 adds up. Over the course of 60 years, that nightly joint will cost you $219,000.

Marijuana also has direct and indirect side effects, with nearly 10 percent of users become addicts, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Drinking too much booze

Consuming three drinks a day might not seem that extreme. But if those three drinks cost $4 each, then you'll be spending $263,000 over the course of 60 years.

Men who consume at least three drinks per day up their chances of dying from any type of cancer by 41 percent. For women who drink two or more drinks per day, they increase their risk of dying from cancer by 20 percent.

We'll leave you to speculate on the other downsides of drinking too much.

Check out these smart stories from Business Insider:

The Best and Worst Places to Hide Your Emergency Cash

15 Smart Things You Can Do With $100

Napkin Sketches That Will Teach You Everything You Need to Know About Saving Money

11 Amazing Stories of Lost Wallets That Were Returned

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