100 Bad Habits and How Much $ They Cost You

Monday, August 13, 2007 at 2:21pm by Site Administrator

Everyone has their vice. Whether it’s cigarettes, gambling, or cable TV, the cost of your bad habits can add up over time. Here are 100 bad habits and the true cost of keeping them up. Health Matters

Your health is the most valuable thing you have. Neglecting it can cost your hundreds or even thousands of dollars down the road.

  1. Smoking: From medical care to insurance, this perennial bad habit costs smokers and society about $41 per pack.
  2. Fast food: It’s easy, cheap, and tasty. But when you consider the cost of obesity, health problems, and compare it with healthier homemade options, the drive thru may be one of the most expensive places to eat.
  3. Stress: Letting stress get the better of you can cause health problems. It’s estimated to cost $300 billion in healthcare each year.
  4. Worrying: That pressing issue keeping you up at night could prove to be costly. Untreated anxiety disorders cost the US economy about $42 million every year.
  5. Neglecting the gym: If you have a gym membership that you don’t use, you’re letting your health and money go to waste.
  6. Avoiding the dentist: If you avoid the dentist out of fear, consider this: letting dental problems go untreated only makes them more costly and complicated to treat.
  7. Drinking: Excessive drinking can be expensive, both at the bar and at the doctor’s. Consider how much your drinking habit will cost you in terms of medical bills, insurance, and even DWI charges.
  8. Chewing cuticles: Your hands come in contact with many surfaces, people, and germs every day. Chewing your cuticles leaves you open to infection that can be costly.
  9. Toenail picking: Picking your toenails exposes you to germs just like chewing cuticles, but the exposure level is even higher, especially if you wear open-toed shoes.
  10. Lip chewing: Lip chewing can cause cold sores, a malady that costs about $20 per tube to treat.
  11. Hair pulling: Pulling out your hair can lead to permanent hair loss. Treatments for this affliction range from $30 to hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
  12. Eating fried food: Fried food can clog your arteries and set you up for heart disease, a problem that won’t just cost a lot of money, but can kill you, too.
  13. Drugs: The cost of drugs extends beyond their street price. Their cost to society is estimated to be $181 billion when health care, productivity losses, law enforcement and other costs are added up.
  14. Avoiding the doctor: Ignoring or not treating a problem can only make it worse and more expensive.
  15. Coffee: You’ve probably heard it before, but we’ll tell you again. Coffee habits are expensive to keep up. At $3.00 per cup, the average drinker spends $750 every year on coffee.
  16. Grinding your teeth: Grinding your teeth at night can cause serious damage and add up to major long term costs. Resin fillings can cost up to $300, and crowns generally cost more than $500.
  17. Not listening to your doctor: When your doctor tells you to exercise or eat better, do it. He’s looking out for your best interest and can save you expensive trouble down the road.
  18. Choosing fries over vegetables: Vegetables can protect you against cancer and save you money and pain in the future.
  19. Overusing salt: Do you salt your food before tasting it? You might want to think twice about that. A high sodium diet can lead to heart failure, an affliction that’s estimated to cost about $38 billion per year.
  20. Eating excessive sugar and carbohydrates: Excessive sugar and carbohydrate consumption can cause Type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes is estimated to cost $47,000 over the lifetime of each patient.
  21. Forgetting to wash your hands: Neglecting to wash your hands opens you up to germs spread by hand-to-hand and hand-to-face contact. In the health care industry alone, poor hand hygiene contributes to approximately $4.5 billion in medical expenses every year.
  22. Eating trans fats: Trans fats are bad for you, plain and simple. Consumers are subject to expensive diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
  23. Ignoring warning signs: If you feel like there’s something wrong, but you ignore it or put off seeing the doctor about it, you could be setting yourself up for medical and financial trouble. Your problem is likely to get worse and more expensive to treat over time.
  24. Sleeping too little: Too little sleep can set you up for obesity, which requires costly weight loss programs, larger clothing, and higher health costs.
  25. Promiscuity: Promiscuity can cause sexually transmitted diseases, afflictions that are expensive and embarrassing to treat. You may even find yourself with an unwanted child, the cost of which hovers around $250,000 over a lifetime.
  26. Not wearing sunscreen: Neglecting to wear sunscreen can lead to skin cancer. Treatments for this disease can add up to thousands of dollars.
  27. Chewing ice: Ice chewing can cause chips, cracks, enamel breakdown and other expensive dental problems.
  28. Sucking on lemons: Like chewing ice, sucking on lemons can cause dental problems that are expensive to fix, most notably a breakdown of tooth enamel.
  29. Emotional eating: Eating based on mood swings can result in an expensive grocery bill as well as higher health care costs.
  30. Drinking soda: Your daily diet coke habit could be creating lots of dental and other costly health problems.

High-Tech Habits

We’re lucky to live in a world that offers a wide variety of entertainment and communication options. But sometimes, too much of a good thing can prove to be too costly.

  1. Cable TV: Cable TV itself is expensive, but there are hidden costs coming through your receiver. Consider the cost of convenience food, lost time, dwindling energy and low-quality family time, and the true cost of cable TV is much more than the average $40 you pay monthly.
  2. Internet: Just like cable TV, excessive internet use can cost more than just your monthly bill. Spending too much time surfing the internet can take you away from more important things, like relaxing or spending time with family and friends.
  3. iTunes: Apple’s iTunes is fun to play around with, but use it too often and you may find yourself buying tracks that you don’t really need or want.
  4. Stealing your neighbor’s WiFi connection: It’s free, but if you get caught and sued, it can prove to be costly.
  5. Keeping a landline: If you have internet access that doesn’t require a landline and you have a cell phone, keeping your unnecessary landline is a habit worth breaking. You’ll save $20 to $30 a month.
  6. Online shopping: Shopping online is convenient and fun, but it can lead to overspending. You may also spend more due to shipping and handling charges.
  7. Buying too many gadgets: Our high-tech world has lots of shiny new gadgets to offer us, but that doesn’t mean we have to buy them all.
  8. Buying poor quality equipment: Money-saving habits can sometimes cost more in the long run. When buying equipment like computers, printers and TVs, opt for quality items that will last. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending more when you have to replace them.
  9. Not paying for a high speed internet connection: Time is money, and waiting around for pages to load is not an efficient use of your time.
  10. Playing video games: Video games are fun and entertaining, but keeping up with the latest consoles and titles can be very expensive. Many new consoles are priced well over $500 and require gamers to buy games at $50 apiece.

In the Car

With gas prices high and rising, it’s time to turn a critical eye towards your driving habits. Erratic driving, speeding, and other bad habits can reduce your gas mileage and set you up for expensive traffic tickets.

  1. Speeding: Fueleconomy.gov reports that "each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gas." That’s not to mention the cost of a speeding ticket.
  2. Ignoring warning signs: Warning signs are meant to tell you of upcoming hazards. If you ignore them, you may end up in an accident or with a ticket.
  3. Waiting until the last drop to get gas: Using the lowest levels of your gas tank makes your car use the dirtiest gas for fuel. This can hurt your fuel line and engine. A repair on the fuel system can run $100 or more.
  4. Erratic driving: Being a bad driver makes you look silly and costs lots of money, too. Rapid acceleration, braking, and other erratic driving can reduce your gas mileage by 33%.
  5. Impatience with gears: If you put your gear in drive while your car is still moving in reverse, you’re putting extra strain on your car’s drive train. It can lead to U-joint trouble, a repair that can cost up to $700, as well as transmission problems that can run $1,000.
  6. Turning your wheel to the farthest point: When you turn your steering wheel all the way to the right or left, you’re putting unnecessary strain on your steering pump, a part that can cost up to $500 to replace.
  7. Ignoring warning lights: Waiting to tend to dashboard warning lights for even a day or two can allow a small problem to become catastrophic and much more expensive.
  8. Junking up your car: If you lug around an extra 100 pounds or so in your trunk, you’re reducing your miles per gallon up to 2%. That’s up to $0.74 a gallon.
  9. Ignoring sounds: Squeaky brakes mean your brake pads are wearing down and you need to replace them. If you let them go for too long, you can wear down your rotors, a problem that can cost $400 or more to fix.
  10. Forgetting about tire pressure: Under or over-inflated tired can reduce gas mileage up to 15% and wear down your tires 15% more quickly. New tires cost about $100 each.
  11. Riding the clutch: Riding the clutch can wear it down, costing you about $500 to replace it.
  12. Wearing down your starter: Turn off headlights, air conditioning and other accessories when you start your car or you may have to replace your starter.
  13. Neglecting oil changes: Your car’s engine oil is there to keep it running efficiently. When you fail to keep it at the proper level and change it at appropriate intervals, you decrease your gas mileage and risk damage to vital engine parts.
  14. Revving your engine: Revving your engine doesn’t warm up your car, it shortens your engine’s life. Do this too often, and you may have to pay $3,000 to $5,000 in repairs.

At Work

Bad habits at work don’t just affect you; they create costs for your coworkers, customers and family. Banish bad habits to improve your earning potential and become more efficient in your work.

  1. Procrastination: Procrastination can result in missed opportunities as well as lowered efficiency, both of which can cost you in lost earnings.
  2. Swearing: Swearing makes you look unprofessional and can cost you earnings from a promotion, raise, or even make you lose your job.
  3. Chronic lateless: Constantly being late for work can cause you to lose wages or even be fired.
  4. Not taking advantage of 401(k) matching: If your employer matches 401(k) contributions and you’re not maxing it out, you’re throwing away free money from your boss.
  5. Nose picking: At a job interview, this can ruin your chances and cheat you out of future earnings.
  6. Over-expensing your business trip: You don’t need to rent a Hummer and stay at the Four Seasons. Save your business money, because it affects your bottom line, too.
  7. Believing you’re not worth a promotion: A lack of self-worth at work can cause you to miss out on lost earnings that can add up over time.
  8. Forwarding illicit emails: Forwarding inappropriate emails makes you look unprofessional and can land you in hot water with your boss, causing you to be passed up for a promotion or lose your job.
  9. Relying too much on your Blackberry: An unhealthy Blackberry addiction can take you away from more important tasks. Depending on your plan, it can also prove costly in service charges.
  10. Becoming complacent: Losing your ambition and believing that your job is "good enough" can cheat you out of a better job and larger paycheck. Even a $5,000/year raise can result in additional career earnings of over $150,000.
  11. Ignoring ergonomics: Ignoring ergonomics at work can create health problems that require the help of a costly chiropractor.


Obviously, poor financial habits can cost you lots of money. These are some of the worst offenders.

  1. Waiting too long to invest: An investment of $10 per week at 8%, starting at age 30 would result in $81,202 in earnings by age 65. That same investment started at age 20 would result in $129,161 additional earnings.
  2. Waiting too long to save: Waiting too long to save follows the same principle as investment. The earlier you start, the more you’ll end up with, even if the amount you’re able to put away is meager.
  3. Forgetting a credit card payment: A late credit card payment won’t just cost you $39 in fees; your credit rating may suffer, too. As a result, you may be subject to higher interest rates and lower quality loans in the future.
  4. Not paying attention to interest rates: Neglecting to shop around for the best interest rate can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the course of a loan or life of a credit card.
  5. Gambling: Gambling may be a fun and entertaining way to make a quick buck, but it’s important to remember that the house always wins. For the average gambler in Nevada, the house wins to the tune of about $19,000.
  6. Compulsive shopping: Compulsive shopping can cause you to overspend. When done with a credit card, interest and fees can add to the trouble.
  7. Carrying a balance: Carrying a balance on your credit card account can cost you hundreds or even thousands in interest fees.
  8. Collecting clutter: Buying too much stuff costs money not only when you buy it, but when you store it, too. Consider the cost of a larger home or even a storage space at an average of $50 per month.
  9. Not keeping disability insurance: If you can’t work for weeks or months, you’ll lose earnings from that period of time and it can put your family in a money crunch.
  10. Making rash decisions: Neglecting to shop around can cause you to spend more than you need.
  11. Not keeping a budget: Spending without a budget may lead to living beyond your means, a move that can land your household into costly debt.
  12. Ignoring your credit report: You can get your credit report for free each year. If you don’t check it, you may not be able to dispute incorrect entries that can wreck your credit score and costs you hundreds or even thousands in higher loan interest rates.
  13. Using retail store credit cards: You’ve probably seen offers that tempt you to sign up for store credit cards, touting a discount on your purchases. These cards can set you up for credit card debt and a lowered credit score, costing you much more in the long run than the benefit of an in-store discount.
  14. Only making minimum payments: If you pay only the minimum required amount on your credit card balance, you’re dooming yourself to a "compound interest sinkhole." Check out this calculator to find out just how much this habit is costing you.
  15. Taking out payday loans: Payday loans are fast and easy, but they come at a high price. Some lenders charge an APRs close to 99%, essentially charging you double the original amount to borrow money.
  16. Not paying attention to small purchases: Small purchases add up. Even a $3-a-day habit can cheat you out of $750 every year.
  17. Not asking for help: If you’re going through a financial crisis, make sure you let your creditors know. They may be able to work out a temporary fix for you, saving you potentially hundreds in interest fees and late charges.
  18. Forgetting to plan for retirement: When planning for retirement, remember that time is your friend. If you make a habit of putting off saving for the future, you’ll be thousands of dollars behind when you’re finally ready to retire.
  19. Insuring too little: Underinsuring is a dangerous game. If you find yourself needing more coverage than you’ve paid for, it could cost you thousands of dollars.
  20. Not keeping an emergency fund: It’s important to keep about 3 to 6 months of living expenses socked away somewhere. Putting this off can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you don’t have funds when you need them and are forced to turn to credit cards or loans.
  21. Abusing balance transfer offers: Balance transfer offers are tempting, but their true cost can add up. Consider transfer fees and the impact of putting off paying your balance, and you’re looking at a loss of hundreds of dollars.
  22. Shopping while hungry: You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t shop while hungry, but it’s a hard habit to break. But think about this: that additional $10 or so can add up. With weekly shopping trips all year, that’s over $500 lost.
  23. Not shopping with a list: Just like shopping while hungry, shopping without a list can leave you with an extra $10 or more in your cart. Over the course of a year, that’s $500 or more spent carelessly.

At Home

Not managing your house properly can cause you to spend more money than you need to. Energy, cleanliness and keeping track of time can all affect your bottom line.

  1. Leaving the lights on: Leaving just one light bulb on for an extra 12 hours a day can cost $3.50 a month, or $40 every year.
  2. Keeping your house too cool or warm: If you’re cold during the summer, you need to adjust your thermostat. By adjusting your thermostat one degree cooler or warmer, you can save $50 or more.
  3. Skipping showers: This hygiene issue is important. Neglecting to bathe yourself can cause you to get sick.
  4. Not vacuuming regularly: Vacuuming picks up dirt, hair and dust off of your floor. Neglect this task, and you may suffer from allergy problems. At the very least, it will cost you about $250 a year to keep up with daily allergy pills.
  5. Letting dishes pile up: Allowing mold and other bacteria to grow in your kitchen sink exposes you to all sorts of illnesses. These can prove to be costly if you need medical care or miss work due to sickness.
  6. Leaving your PC on: The energy cost of leaving your PC on around the clock can come in at $200 or more per year.
  7. Putting off studying: From high school students to adult MBA-seekers, putting off studying can cost you scholarships and remedial classes.
  8. Leaving laundry unattended at the laundromat: Your clothing can get stolen, requiring you to spend money to replace them.
  9. Avoiding dusting: Just like vacuuming, dusting helps you stay on top of allergies. Avoiding this task can cost you an average $250 a year for daily allergy pills.
  10. Letting your bathroom get dirty: A dirty bathroom exposes you to bacteria that can cause expensive medical maladies.
  11. Sleeping too late: Sleeping too late can cause you to lose your job, or worse, miss out on profitable opportunities. Remember, the early bird gets the worm.
  12. Leaving expired food in fridge: Expired food in your refrigerator isn’t just gross, it’s dangerous and expensive. It can contaminate good food, requiring you to replace it, plus you’re paying for energy costs to cool it.

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Filed under: Financing


  1. A lot of these suggestions are just plain far fetched. Particularly in the “At Home” section. I mean come on… Not vacuuming regularly will cost you 250 dollars a year? Most people don’t have allergies that bad that it would require them to constantly buy allergy medication because of dusty floors. And another thing. Dishes in the sink (although disgusting) are not going to get you sick unless you like off the rotten food from the plates. People get way too uppity about germs these days when they’re really not that much of a threat.

    Comment by Adam — August 15, 2007 @ 6:00 am

  2. Adam,

    I didn’t write this article but I am going to defend it. I just happen to be one of three family members with allergies so bad that our medicines cost $100-200/month each. It’s very strange that you would be so defensive about something like allergies, and even stranger that you would use the particular fake email that you did. Are you afraid that the author of the article is going to send you email if you used a real address?

    Comment by Raj Dash — August 15, 2007 @ 6:07 am

  3. Raj Dash,
    Adam was merely referring to the fact that these habits dont cause everyone to have such large costs to health and income. As for hiding your email there are alot of bots out there that do look for emails to send spam to and posting your email everywhere without quotes isn’t something i would recommend.

    Comment by Mad hatter — August 15, 2007 @ 8:46 pm

  4. Biting your lip will not cause cold sores. Cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex 1 virus. Not everyone gets them. You have to have the virus in your system. I’ve never had one and I bite my lips all the time.

    Comment by Joie — August 15, 2007 @ 11:17 pm

  5. a whole ton of these arent really ‘bad’ habits. Some of them, i guess, could be considered bad if you take them to extreme levels, but then so can many good habits (over-exercising, for example, is not a good thing).
    Many of the ‘obvious’ items on this list (like smoking, drinking etc) have statistics and facts to back them up, but far too much of the rest of it seems just to have been tacked on with negative opinions and worst-case scenarios to explain, merely to bring it to a top 100 list.
    The writer should take note of entries 3 and 4, since anyone who could write a list like this must be susceptible to those.

    Comment by ajax — August 16, 2007 @ 3:13 am

  6. i have allergies and it does cost a lot…plz dont mind my email LOL

    Comment by mousqy — August 16, 2007 @ 3:32 am

  7. lol if someone were to follow every one of these they would be the most boring person alive.

    Also whoever wrote this should follow #3 and #4. Every other thing says about staying away from germs and being protective of yourself. It’s this kinda shit that makes everyone so sick nowadays. Mothers not touching their kids unless they’re in a sterile environment with freshly washed hands… this leads to a baby not developing its own immune system and suffering later. The human body is quite resilient and the chances of you catching something from biting your nails is quite ridiculously low. I chew my nails, don’t wash my hands hardly EVER unless I use the bathroom. Stop worrying so much about germs. Humans have lived millions of years without antibacterial soap every hour, I’m pretty sure they still can.

    Comment by Steve — August 16, 2007 @ 5:08 pm

  8. Jessica:

    Thanks for the reality check! Every person or organization has some bad habit they could eliminate for financial gain. I cross-posted on your piece to http://blog.innovators-network.org
    The Innovators Network is a non-profit dedicated to bringing technology to startups, small businesses, non-profits, venture capitalists and intellectual property experts. Please visit us and help grown our community!

    Best wishes for continued success,

    Anthony Kuhn
    Innovators Network

    Comment by Anthony Kuhn — August 16, 2007 @ 9:59 pm

  9. #100 is partially wrong – refrigerators and freezers work more efficiently when they are full, not less.

    Comment by Rich — August 16, 2007 @ 10:07 pm

  10. FYI, #70 gambling is spelled wrong.

    Very nice practical list of bad habits. A good way to cope with the habits is to admit and track them online and chat with others who do the same. You can start coping at Hidden Habits.

    Comment by HiddenHabits — August 20, 2007 @ 8:31 pm

  11. #52 is wrong.Air conditioning,stereo,etc. being on when you start your car does not hurt the starter.the starter simply
    engages the flywheel or flexplate to turn your engine over.
    Now,if you said alternator you might have something.

    Comment by Sean — September 8, 2007 @ 3:39 am

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