Cost of Your Vices
Are you willing to be a quitter to save money? What do you do to save money? Clip coupon? Try free samples before you buy a product? Encase your entire house in plastic sheeting to cut energy bills? Do you know the cost of your vices?
That weekly lottery ticket and daily latte may cost more than you expect.
I found this cool tool on eBay Deals called the “Cost of Your Vices.” Just answer the questions about your lifestyle and they will give you an estimate of how much money you could save.
Just out of curiosity, I ran the “Cost of your Vices” tool for myself. Wanna see my results?
- Smoking: I don’t smoke.
- Coffee Consumption: I do drink coffee sometimes. I’ve recently cut back from 2-3 cups to a few cups a week. I selected one cup a day as an average.
- Alcohol: I drink about 2-3 mixed drinks or glasses of wine a week.
- Fast Food: I’m a vegetarian, so I rarely eat fast food. Other than a baked potato from Wendy’s or burritos from Chipotle, I find fast food completely unappealing. Since I definitely don’t eat these items on a weekly basis, I selected the “I don’t eat fast food” option.
- Lottery Tickets: I don’t buy lottery tickets, but my husband sometimes does. However, he rarely buys them and, when he does, he only purchases one or two. Since the lowest option was 7 lottery tickets a week and our consumption is less than one a month, I selected that we don’t buy lottery tickets. While we do buy them, less than one lottery ticket a month is a long way from 28 lottery tickets a month.
- Soda: I have seriously cut back on my consumption of diet sodas recently. Now, a 12 pack of Pepsi Max lasts about a week. The tool’s lowest options were 1-2 per week or 14 per week. I drink more than 1-2, but not quite 14. However, since 14 represents the closest option to my real consumption, I selected that.
The “Cost of Your Vices” tool told me that I could save $1160 by giving up soda, $503 by giving up coffee and $187 by giving up alcohol. That adds up to $1850 a year.
Where they over-estimated my spending
Since “Cost of Your Vices” tool generates figures based on average estimates, I made some adjustments customized to my actual spending habits. I spend less on soda than they suggest. A case of Pepsi Max at full price runs about $5 a case. I rarely buy it at full price and stock up when it is on sale. At target, that about 4 cases for $12. That works out to about $3 a case. In the sake of fairness to cover taxes and the occasional time I do pay full price, I rounded it up to $4. 52 cases a year (1 case a week) costs about $208.
I like good coffee. I usually spring for Gevalia. Of course, I must have a little creamer. I buy a package of coffee every two weeks and a bottle of creamer weekly. That works out to about $388.96 a year. However, there are 4 of us drinking that coffee regularly. That means my actual consumption is about $97 a year. I believe the “Cost of Your Vices” tool’s estimate is for coffee from a coffee shop. Personally, I don’t like busy coffee shops and rarely buy from them. As such, I am saving $406 by foregoing the over-priced latte and having a high quality coffee at home. I save even more buy using coupons for my favorite coffees and creamers. I also won’t buy brands I don’t like, even with a coupon. It’s just a waste of money if the product won’t get used.
Where they under-estimated my spending
The “Cost of Your Vices” tool estimates that I spend about $187 on alcoholic beverages. I buy about a bottle of wine a week. I don’t go for pricier wines and usually buy Yellow Tail Reserve Shiraz. That averages about $9 a bottle and I try to buy it on sale. So, I actually spend closer to $468 on wine a year.
Conclusions for My budget
Based on MY personal shopping habits and tendency towards frugality beyond that of the average shopper, if I completely give up coffee, soda and wine, I would actually save about $773 a year. By making my own coffee at home, I save much more than if I was buying it from a local coffee shop. If you are like me and want to save money, but don’t necessarily want to end your coffee intake, consider using coffee coupons and make your own at home.
I normally live a pretty healthy lifestyle, so the only “vice” that I have is drinking 1 glasses of wine a day. I actually don’t consider that bit a vice and have read many studies linking a glass of red wine to better heart and kidney health. Of course, you can always run the risk of too much of a good thing leading to health problems.
I am trying to eliminate diet sodas. Soda is bad for your teeth and the artificial sweeteners probably aren’t that great for me. I have cut back significantly. Before January, I was drinking several 12 packs a week. If I can eventually stop drinking them completely, that would net an extra $208 a year in my pocket.
A pack-a-day smoker with no other vices could save $2044 annually just by cutting back! Holy cow! That’s like my rent payment for several months. Of course, that’s based on the average price of a pack. Depending on your brand, you may save even more or not spend as much as the tool suggests.
Eliminating some habits may save more than just the cost of your vices. For instance, quitting smoking saves the cost of the pack, but may also cut future medical bills. Over-consumption of fast food and soda contributes to obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. Cutting back here could also improve your health and save money on future medical bills.
While moderate amounts of coffee and wine may have some health benefits, drinking too much of either hurts more than just your pocketbook. Too much caffeine can cause anxiety issues, headaches and insomnia, while too much alcohol causes neurological disorders, liver problems and serious interpersonal issues.
Tips for using the tool
In short, once you find out the cost of your vices, decide how accurately it applies to you. Do you actually spend more or less in some categories? Adjust accordingly. Decide what you are willing to eliminate or cut back on. Are there some areas where you could save more by making minor changes, such as making your own coffee at home? Or bringing a home-made meal for lunch instead of eating fast food during the work day? Are there some things you would be better off completely eliminating?
I would love to know how you stacked up with the “Cost of Your Vices” tool! Did you do better than I did?