A 2017 GOBankingRates survey revealed that more than half of Americans splurge on guilty pleasures. If you frequent the bars on weekends, eat fast food or smoke cigarettes, you’re probably one of these people who drops a lot of dough on expenses that can drain your bank account.
Click through to see 21 guilty pleasures that are hurting your bank account — and possibly even your health.
Drinking Alcohol at Home
Drinking is an American pastime — and one of the worst guilty pleasures. Don’t think that it’s only nights out at the bar that add up, either. Even your at-home libations can be expensive.
A handle of Skyy or Smirnoff vodka will set you back around $20, while higher-end brands such as Ketel One will cost you in the $45 range. Don’t forget: You’ll need mixers for hard liquor, too.
If you’re more of a wine drinker, you can buy cheaper bottles of wine, but they’ll go faster if you indulge while watching “The Bachelor.” To save on costs, you can always drink less — or put your warehouse club membership to work for you. Costco is known for offering house-brand wines at great rates.
Drinking Alcohol Out on the Town
Drinking out is even more costly. The median pour cost — the cost of a drink’s ingredients divided by its sale price — for a bar is a little more than 20 percent in the United States. So that means that bottle of beer you could buy as part of a 12-pack for $1 could cost $5 at the bar. If you prefer a cocktail, expect to spend significantly more. The average cost for a cocktail in New York City in March was $16 and $14 in Chicago. And tickets to events such as the Great American Beer Festival in Denver can set you back $70 or more.
To save on drinks, opt for inviting a few friends over, BYOB, of course.
If you smoke cigarettes, you’re dropping a lot of dough on a smelly habit.
It’s no secret that cigarettes are expensive, no matter where you live. The cheapest cigarettes are in Missouri and Virginia at $5.25 per pack, according to Fair Reporters, and the highest prices are in New York City, at $13. If you smoke a pack a week, that’s an annual cost between $273 and $676. A pack a day? That puts your spending between $1,916.25 and $4,745 a year.
Add to that the higher medical costs caused by smoking. Medical expenses attributed to smoking are nearly $170 billion in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you smoke pot, you’re not paying much less for the pleasure. More states are legalizing recreational marijuana — and the industry might currently be changing the economy — but that doesn’t mean it’s cheap.
In Colorado, an ounce of medium- to high-quality pot has an average price of $220. It’s about $10 more an ounce in California, where an ounce of top-quality marijuana in Los Angeles is about $310. (And that doesn’t include the munchies.) The average joint has about 0.01 ounces of marijuana, meaning each one cost somewhere between $2.20 and $3.10 at these rates.
Going to the Movies
If catching the latest flicks in theaters is your guilty pleasure, the cost is going up. The National Association of Theatre Owners reported that movie ticket prices went up almost 4 percent in 2017 to $8.97, even though some tickets in big cities cost double that. And if you do end up buying a ticket, don’t let the smell of popcorn lure you into purchasing unnecessary movie snacks. The website Movie Theater Prices said you’ll pay about $20 at one national chain for a large soda, large popcorn and candy.
Movie rentals are a good alternative. Redbox is your best bet, offering one-night rentals for as little as $1.50. Amazon has movies available starting at 99 cents. iTunes also has some rentals as low as 99 cents, though most cost between $3.99 and $5.99. At that rate, you can afford the microwave popcorn to enjoy while you watch.
Playing Video Games
If you’re an avid gamer, take a deep breath. This one might hurt.
According to Statista, computer and video game sales were nearly $18.4 billion in 2017. And Americans are spending more time playing games, from 17.8 minutes per day in 2008 to 23.2 minutes in 2013. By 2018, you’re liable to put in 28.3 minutes each day playing games.
Don’t overlook potential monthly subscription costs. The popular “World of Warcraft” game costs players about $15 each month. If you’re a console gamer, you’re liable to pay a monthly fee just to play online multiplayer games, too. A 12-month membership to PlayStation Plus costs about $60 — more if you’re paying month to month.
Eating at Fast Food Restaurants
If a daily fast food run is on your to-do list, you could easily see your bank balance plummet. If you spend $10 every workday on burgers and fries, you’re looking at $50 a week for a total of about $200 a month. That doesn’t include your weekend food costs or the long-term damage you’re doing to your arteries.
As an alternative, take your lunch to work. If you turn that fast food lunch into a healthier and more filling brown-bag lunch, that typically will cost $4 a meal, according to Health magazine. That’s a savings of about $1,500 a year.
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Eating at Nice Restaurants
While there’s nothing wrong with splurging on a nice meal every once in a while, serious foodies are dropping way more than a dime to check out the latest and greatest restaurant openings. In fact, in 2015, Americans spent more money at bars and restaurants ($54.9 billion) than on groceries ($52.5 billion) for the first time in history. Yes, the average American family spends just over $3,000 a year eating out. That’s more than two months of rent in most U.S. cities.
Moreover, many dishes come with insane markups, sometimes as much as 300 percent. So, that $15 pasta dish actually might cost the venue $5 to make. It’s enough to make you, and your stomach, think twice about an evening out.
Apps such as Grubhub, Postmates and Eat24 make it easier than ever to get your favorite meals delivered on demand, and sometimes it’s a little too convenient to order late-night takeout when you’re feeling the blues. But you’d better believe that laziness is costing you.
A survey conducted by Home Chef revealed that the average American spends almost $1,200 on takeout each year. That’s more than $20 a week to eat on the couch.
Starbucks and the local gourmet coffee shop are hard to pass up, but the daily habit adds up.
Your java addiction could cost anywhere from nearly $2 for a small black coffee to $5 or more for a larger specialty beverage every day. That’s $40 to $100 per month just to score a caffeine fix on your way to work. What could you do with that extra $1,200 in your pocket at the end of the year?
Want to save on coffee? Make it home and take it to work in a reusable insulated travel cup. Now sip on those savings.
Unnecessary Clothes Shopping
If you love strutting into the office with a new outfit, that’s fine. Just know that your clotheshorse habit is diverting money from your savings account. The average American family spent $1,803 a year on apparel and related services in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If you’re a self-proclaimed shopaholic, steer clear of the mall to limit impulse buying. More people are heading to trendy second-hand shops for the name-label brands at a discount or signing up for online shopping sites such as ThredUp. That’s a site that sells used clothing for up to 90 percent less than shops, according to the company, which added that the thrift industry is growing 20 times faster than retail. And if you need an outfit for a special occasion and might wear it just once, why not rent it? Sites such as Rent the Runway make a great outfit possible for a fraction of the cost of new.
In 2016, gamblers wagered nearly $39.9 billion in America’s commercial casinos, which the American Gaming Association said was an increase of 1.1 percent over the prior year. That doesn’t include the record $31.2 billion in gross gaming revenues at Native American casinos in 2016.
The game with the best odds of winning in the casino is craps. Stay away from the slot machines, though, which give casinos two-thirds of their profits, according to PBS. The best way to avoid wasting money on gambling is to steer clear of the casinos. But if you find yourself there and tempted to gamble, avoid the tricks casinos use to get you to spend more money.
Buying Lottery Tickets
Americans spent an average of $206.69 each on lottery tickets in 2016, and the amount varied widely by state, according to MarketWatch. The top-spending state that year was Massachusetts at an average of almost $735 annually. States, on the other hand, took in a combined $66.8 billion.
The odds of winning the Powerball? They are one in more than 292 million, according to the Powerball website. Odds are this isn’t the best way to spend your money.
It’s no secret that looking good will cost you. But you might be shocked to learn just how much your monthly beauty routine costs.
Manicure devotees get their nails done once a week at an average of nearly $21 for a basic manicure, or nearly $31 for a deluxe manicure, according to Statista. Instead, buy a bottle of top-rate nail polish for $12.50 that will last a few months and a deluxe manicure set for $20 and give yourself a home manicure. You’ll save anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 a year, not including tip.
You don’t have to trim your own locks to save on a nice haircut. The average haircut in Miami in 2017 cost $26; in New York, it was $73. If you’re content with a quick haircut from a national chain, check your mailbox, newspaper and the company’s website for coupons. If you’re looking for something different, check Groupon. Even the trendiest salons will offer discounts of 50 percent or more. If you get your hair cut every six to eight weeks as the pros recommend, your savings will be substantial at the end of the year by using available discounts.
Massages, like haircuts, run the gamut in cost. A one-hour massage in a place that doesn’t offer some of the nicer facilities and amenities can cost $40, while you might spend $240 for a 50-minute Swedish massage at a luxury hotel in a big city. Plus, you’ll need to add a tip of 15 to 20 percent.
If you really want to treat yourself but can’t afford a spa day, wait for Spa Week. It happens twice a year, once in April and once in October. During that week, hundreds of spas and wellness locations throughout North America offer selected services for $50 each. The first spa week of 2018 is April 16-22.
If your massage is doctor-recommended and you have a prescription, you can be reimbursed for the massage via your Flexible Spending Account for medical expenses. That’s money that returns to your employer if you don’t use it.
Although reading is not a “guilty” pleasure, buying books that just sit on your shelf is. After all, how often do you actually re-read the books you purchase? The average adult paperback book costs $9.44, according to the School Library Journal, which means that if you read two books a month, you’re spending $226.56 a year on books. And of course, that number goes up if you’re buying hardcover books.
Instead, consider becoming a member of your local public library so that you can read as many books as you want without spending a dime. Or, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can access many Kindle books for free through Prime Reading.
Doing It for the Insta
In a society saturated with social media, it’s easy to get caught up in the craze — but if you’re spending money on flashy clothes or visits to trendy places just to get “likes,” you might want to evaluate how you are spending your money.
Consider this your cautionary tale: Aspiring Instagram star Lissette Calveiro went $10,000 into debt in an attempt to become famous on the social media platform, The New York Post reported. Calveiro would regularly treat herself to $200 shopping sprees so she wouldn’t be seen wearing the same outfit in photos twice, and splurged on luxury items such as a $1,000 Louis Vuitton bag and a $700 round-trip ticket to Austin, Texas, to attend a Sia concert — all to impress her followers. But she didn’t have the means to keep up with her virtual lifestyle. “I was living a lie; debt was looming over my head,” she told the paper.
Instagram and Facebook can be a great place to share photos of your experiences with friends and family, but you shouldn’t throw your money away or go into debt creating a virtual facade.
Indulging in a bath after a long day at work can be a relaxing way to unwind — but it will cost you a lot more than a shower would. The average shower lasts four minutes, and uses about 10 gallons of water, according to The Nest. Meanwhile, the average bath requires at least 20 gallons of water. That means you’d slash your water bill in half if you switched from daily baths to daily showers.
Taking Uber or Lyft Everywhere You Go
When it comes to the cost of using a ride-sharing service such as Uber or Lyft versus owning a car, determining the cheaper option depends on several factors including how much your car payments would cost, how much you drive and your car’s gas efficiency. For long-distance rides or rides during peak hours, driving your own car is likely the cheaper option. And public transportation will almost always be cheaper than taking a ride-share car. In Los Angeles, the public transportation fare is $1.75 for a one-way trip, while an UberX or Pool starts at $5.60 per ride — more than three times the cost of taking a bus or train.
Earn Some Extra Cash: How to Become an Uber Driver
Being a Brand Snob
It’s OK to splurge on nice things every once in a while, but insisting on a designer-brand wardrobe can put a huge dent in your wallet. Consider the cost of a designer pair of jeans versus the cost of a similar pair from a fast fashion retailer: a pair of AG legging jeans retails for $215, while a pair of jean leggings from H&M costs only $39.99.
If you find that you hold onto things you no longer need or use for “sentimental” reasons, you could just be a hoarder. Not only could hoarding cause unnecessary clutter in your living space, but it could also cost you money if you decide to put some of your items in a storage unit. Storage units can cost an average of $40 to $230 per month depending on the size, according to CostHelper, and no matter what the cost, paying for a storage unit is always a terrible idea.
You are also missing out on money you could get from selling possessions you no longer have use for. You can sell household items on Craigslist, or use sites like Poshmark, Threadflip and Tradesy to sell used clothes online.
Click through to read more about 15 simple pleasures that won’t cost you a dime.
About the Author
Lauren Monitz is a travel writer and social media influencer specializing in approachable adventures and offbeat explorations. With a BS in Advertising from the University of Colorado and an MS in E-business from Depaul, she has over 10 years of experience in content and social strategy for leading tourism destinations, publications, and hospitality clients. She has bylines around the web from Fodor’s and Huffington Post to MSN and AOL, has done Snapchat diaries for the Food Network, and Instagram takeovers for Forbes. From becoming a certified Viking in Iceland to blackwater rafting in New Zealand, she is on a perpetual mission to seek out the most insane adventures she can find and introduce you to things you never even knew you wanted — or needed — on your bucket list. With a goal of visiting all 50 states and at least 50 countries by 50, she is an expert at experiential travel across the globe and close to home. A Chicago native, a Denverite by choice, and perpetually on the go, her mantra is, “Life is short and the world is Wide, Eat, sleep, travel, repeat.” You can follow her (mis)adventures on http://thedownlo.com or on Instagram (@lmonitz @anadventurestory and @onetastytrip).