How much are you really spending?

by Cameron on July 25, 2011

Fast food is bad for you. It’s packed with empty calories. Obesity is becoming a huge problem in America, but I don’t really care. I love Taco Bell, Burger King, and most of all, Jack in the Box. The way fast food can really hurt you is by draining you of a much larger portion of your income than you realize. Fast food isn’t the only thing that drains your bank account. Things like cigarettes, alcohol, and Starbucks all have the same effect. You could trade any of these habits for a variety of things that you’ll enjoy. Let’s do some simple calculations to put this into perspective.

There are 52 weeks in a year, but we’ll use 50 weeks for simplicity’s sake. Perhaps you go on vacation one week per year or use some sick days. Five business days per week will be used in most of these calculations.

Let’s say you go get a $5 foot long from Subway every day of work for lunch. You are getting a good deal and saving money, right? That’s only $25 per week. That $25 per week ends up being $1250 per year. The same could be said about a drink from Starbucks every morning. Maybe on top of that $25 at Starbucks or Subway, your family of four goes and picks up some fast food once per week, spending about $25 more per week. That means in fast food alone, you’ve spent $2500 during the year.

Let’s say you are a smoker. You spend $10 (about 2 packs) per week. That’s $500 per year. Maybe you smoke a carton per week though. Let’s say you spend $30 on a carton of cigarettes per week. Besides the obvious health concerns, you are throwing away $1500 per week. If you smoke more than that, you can do the math yourself.

Let’s say after work, you like to grab a few drinks with your buddies. Maybe you spend $10 per day on drinks. We’ll say $50 per week. Again, that’s $2500.

These are just a few of the habits that cost most people more than they realize. This can also be done with simple purchases like cases of water instead of a water filter or several other small, unnecessary purchases combined. What if you have more than one of these habits? What could you replace those habits with? Is reducing the amount you spend on one of these habits an easy way to boost your savings or reduce your debt? Maybe you are living comfortably with one of these habits, but want to upgrade car. If you spend $2500 per year on fast food and can reduce that to $1000 by taking sandwiches to work, imagine what a few years of saving could do. You can add $1500 per year to your bank account. That’s almost $5000 in 3 years. Judge for yourself whether these habits or similar ones are worth what you are spending on them.

What could you spend that $2500 on instead of those habits? A new LCD or 3D television, a vacation to pretty much any Caribbean island, two new Mac laptops, tickets to the Super Bowl, and many other things cost less than $2500. Let’s take a poll. Who thinks smoking is better than going to the Super Bowl?

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