It’s a sad fact of life that pretty often, the better it feels to do something, the worse it is for you — especially when you repeat it so often it falls under the category of “lifestyle choice”. Gorging on unhealthy food once in a while is an indulgence, but living exclusively on cheeseburgers and fries is a lifestyle, and a pretty bad one at that.
When it comes to these bad lifestyle choices, there’s a tendency to think of them exclusively in terms of our health — and the negative impact of poor lifestyle decisions on our overall health and life expectancy can be pretty grim. But there’s another, more immediate concern we often don’t take into consideration: money. Every bad lifestyle choice we make has a real, direct cost that can add up to some eye-popping sums over the course of a year (or a lifetime). Even without pondering how you’ll pay the hospital bills after a lifetime of indulgence, living an unhealthy life will hit you where it hurts the most: your wallet. Here’s a breakdown of what your bad lifestyle choices might be costing you.
Just because a substance is legal and regulated doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. And even knowing with a certainty that something is bad for us won’t stop us from spending money on it — nearly 30 million Americans still smoke cigarettes despite decades of research demonstrating how actively harmful they are. But if you’re willing to make emphysema or liver failure Future You’s problem, here’s what your legal substances habit is costing you:
- Nicotine: Cigarettes are hella expensive these days. But that’s not all — smoking also makes it a lot more expensive to buy many types of insurance, including health coverage and life insurance. If you’re all cool and modern and vape instead, you’re still probably spending a bunch every year.
- Alcohol: Alcohol has also gotten pretty expensive — it’s not unusual to encounter $25 cocktails in the wild, and you can get all sorts of fancy with liquor and wine that cost eye-popping amounts for a single drink. If you go out a few times a month and splash out for something slightly better, average lifetime spends on alcohol range from around $US68,000 to more than $US120,000, depending on where you live.
Everyone loves a burrito now and then, or a slice of pizza on the way home at 2:00 am. But eating fast food all the time is not only bad for your overall health, but it’s also frickin’ expensive. Depending on who you ask, the average person spends between $US2,400 and $US10,000 on fast food every year, and each of those meals is almost certainly a lot more expensive than a home-cooked one.
We often overlook the impact of the beverages we buy — all those enormous sugary sodas and lattes are also pretty expensive. And coffee is even more expensive — buying all those fancy coffee drinks soaks you for more than $US1,000 a year.
Many folks enjoy the occasional bet, whether it’s a Superbowl grid at the office, a splashy trip to Vegas, or a weekly lottery ticket. If your gambling is more than the once-in-a-while lark, however, it’s probably eating into your wallet, because the house always wins in the end: It’s estimated that the average casino patron loses more than $US600 a year, for example, and someone with a serious gambling addiction can lose as much as $US90,000 every year.
Lottery tickets might not seem so bad — but we still spend an average of $US132 every year on lottery tickets that offer a minuscule chance of a payout of any kind, much less a return on your investment.
Lack of exercise
Not exercising and leading a sedentary life seems like the sort of thing you can always change — in other words, after a youth spent on the couch, we imagine we can leap up one day in our middle years, hit the gym, and somehow make up for all those years spent doing nothing. And depending on your genetic makeup, maybe you can get away with that — but those years skipping leg day still have a real cost.
How much? It’s estimated that sedentary folks spend about $US1,500 more every year on health-related costs than the people who actually get out there and break a sweat regularly.
Not enough sleep
Sleep is weird, right? Here we are, mortal, with a limited time on this planet, and we’re more or less required to spend about one-third of our lives unconscious. As frustrating as that can be sometimes, sleep is glorious — and those who forego it pay a steep price in terms of their health and well-being.
And their budget — because it’s a fact that people who get more sleep do better in their professions and ultimately earn more money. Studies have shown a link between getting just one more hour of sleep every night and an increase in earnings of about 5 per cent if the change is permanent. That means if you skip those extra sleep hours you’re, basically paying a financial penalty.
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