How much are your bad habits costing you?

bad habits


My wife and I made the new year’s resolutions to give up bad habits and to be healthier. It was a shock to see how much our physical and financial health were actually linked.

We looked at Lending Tree’s Bad Habits Calculator and it showed us how good decisions for your waistline, like avoiding fast food, also meant saving for a smart TV.

Here are 10 tips that will help make things better for your body and your wallet:

1. No smoking

Effects of smoking are costly and it’s not just from buying cigarettes. Just one pack a week per person is over $600 per year. Smoking stinks. Try a cessation programme that works for you – actually, here is a nice site.

2. No fast food

It’s easy, it’s quick, you can drive through if the kids are acting up, but it’s a bad habit. A study published in May 2013 in BMJ found that the average fast food meal was over 800 calories.

If we both go just for a Friday fix, it costs us over $550 a year… we’d rather not be both eating badly and broke.

Meal planning is the way to go. suggests 10 good apps to help so you’re not out of groceries come Friday night.

3. Brown bag it

Ordering a $10 lunch just once a week adds up to over $500. That’s enough for a whole month of groceries for us and our kids. Plus, I definitely eat better when I have portion control.

4. No soda

The vending machine is right down the hall where I work and every day about 3:30 pm, I think about an orange soda to pep me up.

But not only is it riddled with sugar (you’ve probably seen this science fair project) that soda costs over $300 per year. Instead, think about the suggestion I make for #5.

5. Get a reusable water bottle

My wife used to get bottles of water at the gym until we saw on the calculator it cost us $300 a year. Also, the CDC reports that plastics may contain hazardous chemicals like antimony which can leak into your food and water.

I’m looking forward to when we can get water right from the air – but until then, I’ll use my reusable metal bottle.

6. No bourbon, no Shots, no bars

Just two drinks each for my wife and I per week is over $1000 a year! That’s rent. And now that we love calculators so much – we can use this one to tally our alcohol calorie intake.

7. Drink less coffee

Some days I just need a cup of coffee or four — but a Venti at Starbucks is actually four cups of coffee and contains 415 mg of caffeine, exceeding the daily maximum (400mg) that the Mayo Clinic suggests is healthy.

No wonder I’m so irritable. Also cutting out that big cup of Ethiopian blend will save me close to $1000 a year.

8. Go out to dinner less

That’s easy — we have little kids. Even one night out a week for the two of us adds up to over $2200 annually (and that’s considering a ~$40 cheque).

A sobering statistic. Also, restaurants use scads of salt in their food (a lot more than you would at home) – bad for my hypertension. We looked for healthy alternatives and make romantic dinners at home while the kids are at grandma’s.

9. Too much streaming TV

The golden age of television is bad for our health and studies show can lead to diabetes if you do not give up this bad habits.

Streaming services may seem to beat average cable prices but the monthly fees add up fast. With just Hulu, Netflix and HBO we spend about $400 a year and that’s before the internet fees.

Monthly fees are killer. We save a bundle by quitting HBO when Game Of Thrones was done and picking it up again this summer.

10. Fit into your old clothes

One added benefit of being healthy means not outgrowing old clothes.

If each of us has to buy a new pair of jeans and a sweater – just once a month – it’s $500 a year. Staying the same weight means we don’t have that binge and purge of our closets every year.

These are some simple tricks to give up bad habits and live both healthier and wealthier – and so far we’ve saved over $5000 (which Lending Tree points out could have been in our account earning interest) – but more importantly we feel much better too.

Now if only we could only find a way to budget sleep.

*Jason Lindner has been a freelance writer and editor for over a decade with work for Disney and Fox TV, as well as publications for HuffPo,,, Maxim,, and many other media sources. He is also an internationally renowned professional playwright and actor with an MFA from Yale School of Drama (’02).

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