10 Terrible Money Habits That Affect Your Wallet and Health

This article originally appeared on Radical FIRE and has been republished here with permission.

Do you know those videos where people are smoking several packs of cigarettes in one go? Or the ones where people don’t remember they bought a TV when drunk? Those are the images that show up in memes, but more often than not, they resemble a truth. 

money habits
money habits

The actual problem is that many people don’t see that they have unhealthy habits. They see it as something they simply do, it’s part of their personality, and they can’t do something about it. Rather than set aside money for your savings plan, we have this impulse to buy stuff even if it’s not within your budget. Living paycheck to paycheck without any regard for the amount of money you spend is such a negative habit anyone should remove from their lives.

As with many things, they are addictive, and they cost a lot of money.

I have compiled a list of 11 habits that are bad for your money and your health. I am guilty of a few of them, and a few of them I’ve seen other people do to themselves. Causing stress, unhappiness, shortages of money, and more.

1. Smoking

Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death and disease, according to the World Health Organisation. In Europe, over 16% of all deaths are coming from tobacco use. While in the US, smoking is costing more than $300 billion every year!

Smoking can have harmful side effects, which I think we all know. From lung cancer to heart disease and everything in between.

I have to admit I’ve also smoked myself. It started when I was going out in college. I was having loads of alcohol, and I was having an occasional cigarette. Then after a few months, I started buying cigarettes myself when I was going out, so I had my own pack. This is a huge red flag. If you’re there now, know it’s not too early to stop!

After smoking when going out, I started to smoke whenever I was stressed. That sounds like a very healthy pattern, right? When I had exams, midterms and needed to study, I was smoking. Just to relax, to release stress, and to keep me going. I told myself it’s okay to smoke several times per day when studying because it prevents stress.

I think this entire thing lasted around a year. Then all of a sudden, I was done with it. I swore to myself I would never buy another pack again, and that was my smoking habit.

BUT, smoking is also costly. You pay an average of €8 for a pack of cigarettes, which can be up to €250 per month just for smoking when you smoke a pack a day. Let’s imagine what you can all do with €250 per month! (Hint: invest it in the stock market, buy index funds, read an amazing book).

Fun fact: smokers earn around 20% less than non-smokers, according to Glassdoor.

2. Coffee

Buying coffee every time you go to work may cost you a lot of money without thinking about it. 

Some people may have 4 cups of coffee a day, so buying them at coffee shops may be a little pricey. Coffee may cost you $4 per cup, which means you spend $85 a month on coffee if you only drink one cup. 

While this isn’t why millennials can’t buy houses, it could help if you could save that money and invest it instead. 

If you are a coffee lover and you really can’t stop it. Why not try to make your own coffee at home and bring it to your office. By doing this, the money you save can add up significantly and help you and your budget all the more. 

Related Read: How Quitting Caffeine Changed My Life

3. Eating Out

There is nothing wrong with eating out with your friends or with your family as long as you do it for pleasure and not as a habit. 

There are a lot of individuals that love to order take-out or lunch during office days. If you want to save more money, bringing your own lunch at work is recommendable. Not only can you save money but you can be healthy as well as eating a home-cooked meal. 

This is one of the more unpopular money-saving tips as it’s very normal to enjoy dining out with your friends. However, these spending habits can be a major difference in how much money you will save regularly. Being frugal and practical are important money management tips when you are saving up money. 

Cooking at home may save you a lot of money. It is also recommended that you do your meal planning to save much of your time. You may also try a meal planning service which is much more affordable than eating out in restaurants. Try this $5 Meal Plan as your meal planning service that sends out weekly meal plans with a shopping list for only $5 a month.

4. Bottled Water

Water is very essential in our daily lives, that is why this is one thing that you will always buy whenever you are out. Though it is not that pricey, it is still an expense.

Invest in a good water bottle or water jug as they say it, and bring your water. If you are on a diet, you may put lemon in your water. What an excellent way to save money and be hydrated at the same time. Spending less really means making the most out of what you already have.

5. Drinking

Alcohol misuse is costing the US alone $249 billion yearly, that’s $2.05 per drink and $807 per person living in the US. Most costs come from binge drinking, so a person ends up in the hospital because they drank too much.

I’ve also drunk a lot – a lot – of alcohol in the past. At that time, it was just very ‘normal,’ which is also something we could question. I would start drinking around the age of 14, while the legal age at that time was 16. Currently, they set the legal age to 18. This means that people start to drink around age 16, which is at least better than before.

Friends of mine have seriously been going to the hospital because they drank too much, which is scary. Obviously, these hospital visits are also adding immense costs to the health care system (and your personal wallet).

I don’t mind if people drink, I love me a beer, but there are boundaries. No more puking, no more not remembering what I did, and no more drinking just to get drunk!

6. Gambling

Both gambling and playing the lottery are risky. According to the Economist, people lost $110 billion gambling in 2016.

According to Bloomberg, the average player collects $0.6 in winnings for every $1 ticket bought.

While I’ve gambled before and participated in the lottery before, I’ve never enjoyed it too much. When I was in Las Vegas, of course, you have to play for a bit in the casino, but that’s about it. Also, when it’s around Christmas, my in-laws always gift everyone a lottery ticket. That’s all I do for lottery tickets.

I’ve heard too many stories of people losing money while gambling, friends have literally handed me their money so they couldn’t spend it anymore, and people file bankruptcy after gambling. I swore to myself I never wanted to experience that personally.

Related read: What Happens to Your Credit Score After Bankruptcy?

Casinos are making immense sums of money. Do you think they would otherwise keep giving you drinks or want to keep you there as long as possible? Keep in mind that they do everything for one reason; to make more money.

Know your stopping point. Only go in with the money you are willing to lose, and don’t take any extra cash out.

7. (Online) Shopping

People feel that they have to buy something, especially when they feel sad, bored, or something along those lines. They want to have that high from buying something quick, and it doesn’t feel like you’re actually spending money.

This can make you fall into more credit card debt, generally overspend on things, and lead you to buy something you don’t actually need. This all leads to more unhappiness and additional stress, which in turn leads to excess shopping again. The cycle is born! Paying off debts will now be the only thing in your mind instead of the living expenses needed for you and your family.

To stop this, think about where your unhappiness is coming from. Try to get to the root of the problem and find the solution there as well.

If you’re having a hard time with this, try cutting down spending by trying out the minimalist lifestyle.

8. Tanning

I have a lot of friends who go tanning. Luckily most of them stopped this already. The people who went tanning did not have the natural tan color. Also, skin cancer is a real issue here. If you’re spending most of the year going tanning, the risks drastically go up!

It’s not so good for your skin, as well as expensive. It’s as expensive as 10 minutes for €10, and prices go up from there. Let’s say you go for 30 minutes every week, that’s €30 per week, €120 per month, and over €1500 per year!

That’s money earned fast! Let’s try embracing our skin or simply using something like bronzing lotion.

9. Speeding

Speeding is not only expensive when you get tickets, but it’s also accounting for a major amount of additional costs. In 2016, the cost of motor vehicle accidents was $432 billion, with 2 million people involved. This averages $213,000 per person affected.

In addition to that, your car insurance costs will increase, which no one ever likes!

10. TV & Social Media

With everything, you need to dose the amount. Also, with TV, of course, you can watch a good TV show or watch some videos on YouTube, but don’t let it get the best of you.

The average American spends 31.5 hours each week watching TV and around six other hours per week watching movies. On top of this, social media adds another 10 hours per week on average. Some people spend more, and some people spend less time in front of screens because many of us also work 8 hours per day.

That’s a lot of hours! What if you would do something else in those hours, like starting a side hustle or starting to organize your finances. Such crazy suggestions, I know.

TV and social media can affect you by watching the commercials, causing you to buy things you usually wouldn’t buy.

Are you wasting time watching TV or social media? If you could just reclaim a few hours every week by eliminating the TV and the social, you could reclaim that time to do the things you love. Perhaps read a book, pick up that hobby that you’ve left out there for too long, go for a walk.

How to Overcome Terrible Money Habits

Below are some suggestions that you can do to overcome your bad money habits.

Do The No-Spend Challenge to Boost Yourself

Breaking bad habits is not that easy. You may need something to boost yourself and be productive. Why don’t you try the no-spend challenge?

The no-spend challenge can help you not only in saving money but also in developing good money habits. In this way, you get motivated by saving a lot of money and building up your savings. Your saving habits will definitely be improved if you do this challenge in your life. Money saved instead of buying is a very simple concept, although a very tough one, thus the challenge.

Build Your Good Money Habits

Learn from your mistakes. It’s not too late to start and grow your savings. As suggested, a no-spend challenge can be your starting point.

As you start your no-spend challenge, try building up your good money habits. It will all start from living below your means. It doesn’t mean that you live poorly but instead spend only the important things. Eventually, you will be able to build good money habits and manage your money.

Conclusion – Terrible Money Habits

Terrible money habits are not that easy to break. But if you try to quit and eventually change them to good money habits, surely you will save a lot of money and cut those unnecessary expenses. Also, you will improve your financial situation as well. 

Your financial habits and saving strategies will help your personal capital. This, in turn, will help your financial goals and retirement savings. That’s the end goal, right? Have a monthly budget to improve your personal finance and savings account as part of your long-term goals.

Every individual is unique in their financial situation, so it is still up to you how you will manage your finances. This article is just a guide for your financial status to improve. So, what are you waiting for? Keep going and continue to build your financial independence.

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