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Is a Hobby or Habit Hurting Your Savings?

I was reading The Week (Vol. 5, Issue 197, pg. 20) and in their Health & Science section they mentioned a study at Ohio State University that “found that the net worth’s of nonsmokers are roughly 50 percent higher than those of light smokers (less than a pack a day) and double the wealth of heavy smokers (more than a pack a day).” The gap was $410 for each year that the person smoked. The reasoning they suggested was that smokers buy cigarettes with money they would’ve otherwise saved, not money they would have spent on entertainment. That made me wonder about how a hobby or habit cuts into our savings.

The main drain on my entertainment budget is alcohol and eating out but I recognize them as entertainment expenses because they aren’t spent on a daily basis without much thought. When I go to a bar I realize I’m going to a bar and that it’s entertainment. When I go out to a nice restaurant, again, it’s very clear that I’m spending money. When a smoker lights up, they’re taking a break, they’re hanging out, and they don’t really see it as spending money.

Do I have a habit that is similar to smoking? Perhaps drinking soda! I think I take down about a can a day and when you buy them in “bulk” at Costco, it amounts to a quarter a can. A pack of cigarettes will run about $5 on average (I speculate since I’m a non-smoker) so you can figure the habit is about 5% that of smokers, or that I miss about $20 a year because of my soda habit.

Anything else? I don’t have a junk food habit but you can easily imagine someone spending about $1-$2 a day on junk food. You take a break from work or from classes, go to the vending machine, get a pack of Cheetos for a buck or some Twinkies… $1 a day that you didn’t “budget” for. That’s $80 a year of missed savings versus a non-Twinkier or a non-Cheetoer.

I don’t know how valuable it is to look at that sort of thing but it’s interesting to think about. Budget for your hobbies and your daily habits (if it’s smoking or drinking or Cheetos) so that you don’t cut into your savings. You’ll be saving money you didn’t realize you were saving. Plus, eating a bag of Doritos each day isn’t that healthy for you either.