This post is by Julie Ewald.
Did you know that the average American spends $500 on fast food each year? The average lottery payout is 61 cents on the dollar. A full 48% of us drink a soda every single day. We know our vices aren’t good for us and we know they cost us a lot more than money. That’s why they’re vices: They are time wasted, health ruined and dollars disappeared.
Here’s a list of replacement habits to start putting those bucks back in your pocket where they belong.
Coffee: Drink tea or water with lemon juice. Coffee can be an energy booster or a social time. Figure out which of the two you’re interested in, or if you’re into both. Create the same sense of fun and ritual around your new drink as you had with coffee. It’s easiest to cut back when we don’t feel deprived, so give yourself something else to think about.
Cigarettes: Chances are you smoke to relax. Smoking at work can be a nice break from the grind, especially if you need some solitude. Instead of staying inside feeling cooped up, take a walk around the building. Breathe deep, full inhalations of fresh air and enjoy the same quiet you got while smoking.
Lotto tickets: Lotto tickets are a fun pursuit every so often, but if you notice you’re spending more on them than you’d like, find something else that provides that little rush. A good, healthy buzz can be challenging yourself to try something new. Sign up for a class or workshop, enroll in an online course or join a sports team. Your increased confidence will feel better over time than the momentary excitement (and then disappointment) of buying tickets.
Fast food: Fast food is easy, seems cheap and smells delicious. It can take some serious planning to stay away from this one if you’re busy and not used to planning out meals. Start out slow by switching one fast food meal to one home-cooked meal each week, and find a way to keep it interesting. Learn new recipes, try new foods and make sure to plan ahead with a healthy snack or two in the car in case you get hungry while out and the dollar menu calls your name.
eBay Deals has created The True Cost of Your Vices, an interactive quiz that shows the real costs of your vices. It tells you how much you could save if you quit each one and serves up a few health benefits as a bonus. Be honest with your answers and chances are the number at the end of the quiz should be enough to prompt some quitting, or at minimum, a little cutting back. Being frugal is all about enjoying life’s little indulgences, so don’t be afraid to treat yourself with a vice every so often. Just don’t make it a habit.
Julie Ewald is based in Las Vegas. She serves up the skinny on eBay’s best deals and top tips for saving money and frugal living at the eBay Deals Blog.