5 Unhealthy Habits That May Be Hurting Your Health And Costing You Money

Recently, after watching a Facebook video about a person with lung cancer, I decided to read through the comments. I know, I know – this is never a good idea! There were people saying “this is all fake” and other comments that suggested these people gladly smoke multiple packs of cigarettes a week while believing…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: September 3, 2023

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Did you know that your unhealthy habits may be be hurting your health and possibly even costing you money? This list of bad habits is something you should read!Recently, after watching a Facebook video about a person with lung cancer, I decided to read through the comments. I know, I know – this is never a good idea! There were people saying “this is all fake” and other comments that suggested these people gladly smoke multiple packs of cigarettes a week while believing cancer and other medical issues related to smoking were not real.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. My father passed away from lung cancer, so I can’t fathom how someone would believe this isn’t a real issue.

And, this goes for many unhealthy habits.

Many people either don’t realize or want to believe that some of their unhealthy habits may not only be hurting their health, but they may be costing them money as well.

Everyone has, at one point, an unhealthy habit they engage in or something they are wasting money on. I know I have, and for me that was tanning in a tanning bed.

Although I didn’t do it much, really just once is enough to cause health and financial harm. Using tanning beds damaged my skin and cost me money as well. It could have eventually led to something much worse as well!

Unhealthy habits are bad because they can begin causing you problems from the beginning leading well into the future, such as medical problems, medical debt, credit card debt, and more. They can prevent you from saving money and reaching a financial goal.

You may never learn how to save money if you are constantly drowning in these unhealthy habits.

They can also lead to a lot of stress and unhappiness.

Here is a list of 5 unhealthy habits.

Cigarettes are expensive and can kill you.

According to the American Lung Association, tobacco kills nearly 500,000 people in the U.S. each year and costs the U.S. $333 billion per year in healthcare expenses.

Smoking cigarettes can lead to many harmful side effects, such as lung cancer, heart disease, and many other medical problems.

I know and understand this problem because my father (who I was extremely close to) passed away from lung and brain cancer in 2008. He was an extremely healthy man, except for his serious smoking problem. We tried for a very long time to get him to stop, and it’s something I will always regret not trying hard enough for.

Due to this, I have never smoked a cigarette in my life, and I never will. There are just too many harmful effects of smoking.

Not only is it extremely unhealthy, it is also very expensive. According to Business Insider, cigarettes can cost around $5 in states such as Kentucky, and they may cost as much as $15 in New York. If you smoke a pack a day, that can be as much as $450 a month.

Another interesting statistic: According to GlassDoor, smokers earn an average of 20% less than non-smokers.

Tanning in a tanning bed is an unhealthy habit.

I used to go tanning, but I don’t anymore. I have heard too many horror stories about skin cancer and have seen too many pictures of people who have spent too much of their life tanning. Bottom line, it isn’t worth it.

In addition to being unhealthy, tanning can also be expensive.

I once overheard someone saying that they spent $400 a MONTH on tanning – I don’t even know how that’s possible. Whatever you are spending, it’s too much if you are just damaging your skin.

Instead, try to embrace the skin you have, or just use a bronzing lotion.

Gambling with your money.

Gambling at the casino and playing the lottery are both risky moves.

According to The Fool, in the U.S., people lost $142 BILLION gambling in 2014, and this statistic doesn’t even include what was lost playing the lottery.

And, according to Bloomberg, the average person who plays the lottery in the U.S. not only spends around $300 a year on lottery tickets, they also lose roughly $0.40 for every $1 in tickets purchased.

While I have gambled before, I have never been one to enjoy or do it much. But, I have seen people file bankruptcy after gambling too much, so the thought of losing money gambling is something that I’ve never wanted to personally experience.

Gambling can be extremely risky, which most often makes it an unwise financial choice. However, if you choose to gamble, you should always know your stopping point, and you should be able to afford to lose the amount of money you are gambling with. Keep in mind that casinos exist for a reason – they are making money because people are losing money.

Spending too much time and money on TV and social media.

TV isn’t always bad. I love a good TV show or watching a fun Youtube video (lately, I’ve been watching a TON of Sailing La Vagabonde). However, it’s all about being realistic and not letting it hurt other areas of your life.

The average person in the U.S. spends 34 hours each week watching TV and around three to six additional hours per week watching movies. Social media adds around 10 hours a week too, with some people spending much more than that on social media.

No matter how you try to explain it to me, I can’t imagine that being glued to your television or cell phone for over 40 hours a week is in anyway healthy.

Watching TV or spending too much time on social media can be an unhealthy habit because:

  • Commercials may tempt you to spend money you should be saving. They exist for a reason, which is making money off people like you and me.
  • You are wasting time watching TV or on social media when you could be doing something productive. Just think what you could do if you reclaimed just an hour or two of this time each week.
  • Having a TV is most likely costing you money. Not only do you have to pay for the actual TV, you are also paying for electricity to power the TV, cable, subscriptions to things like Netflix or Hulu, and more. Before you know it, watching this much TV may cause you to spend $10,000 over the course of a decade. Yes, it really can add up that easily. The same thing applies to cell phones – many people spend much more than they need to on their cell phones each month.

Instead of watching TV or getting sucked into a social media hole, try finding something else to do with your time. Spend time with your family, find a side hustle, go for a walk, read a book, give your dog some extra belly scratches, and more.

Find more ideas at 59 Things To Do Instead of Watching TV So That You Can Take Your Life Back.

Emotional spending never works for long-term happiness.

Emotional spending is when you go shopping because you are sad, bored, feeling under-appreciated, or something else.

This is not good because if you are continually buying items to feel better about yourself, you may fall into credit card debt, spend more than you have, and you might just be buying things that you do not need just so you can buy something. Also, the cycle this can lead to is more stress and unhappiness, which can lead to more excess spending. As you can see, this is one of the many unhealthy habits that needs to be prevented.

To stop emotional spending, think about what it is that is really making you unhappy and come up with a better way to overcome your problem. You could clear your head by going on a walk, start writing in a journal, or find a friend or loved one to talk with. It may also be helpful to just avoid stores as much as possible so emotional spending isn’t an option. These are the best ways to stop this unhealthy habit so that you can learn how to save money.

Other unhealthy habits that might be costing your health and savings are:

  • Fast food regularly
  • Excessive alcohol purchases

And more!

What unhealthy habits do you spend money on? Are you looking to stop your unhealthy habits?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Ember @ An Intentional Lifestyle

    Oh man. The smoking is a sore point for me, because my parents refuse to stop. They try and when it gets tough, they start back up. Even my 6 year old asks me all the time why they do it if they know it can hurt them. Words of wisdom from a child, right?

    Tanning, that I’ve done a few times. But I didn’t enjoy it really and much preferred real sunlight. A college friend had a skin cancer scare, but that still doesn’t stop her from wanting to tan.It doesn’t make sense to me!!

    I know I probably have a habit or few that are not super healthy, but these are def ones that make me mad and leave me at a loss as to why people do them.

    1. Yeah, smoking is so bad. I really wish I would have pushed my dad to stop.

  2. I agree with all the above.

    The downside about blogging is that I started spending too much time on social media marketing my blog. I guess it comes with the territory.

  3. Thank you for sharing.

    Smoking is also a sore subject in our family (grandfather passed away from lung cancer). Tanning is one that many studies have referenced frequently (and perhaps one of those things future generations will look back and say “what were they thinking?”).

    For me, it’s the very infrequent, but still occasional, alcohol purchases. Also, social media and TV (but nowhere near the hours you listed).

    Overall, finding a balance is important. I’m working at being more consistent.

  4. Budget Kitty

    It boggles my mind that people still smoke. I’ve seen first hand the effects of smoking as it took several loved ones away from me.

    You didn’t mention soda, but that is another waste of money and source of bad health. we’re trying to kick that bad habit and drink water instead (though sometimes I just can’t resist an ice cold Coke).

  5. I’m so glad I don’t do any of these. I can’t imagine spending so much money on those things. $450 a month is just insane to me!

  6. Drinking can be another big one. The occasional alcoholic beverage probably isn’t too terrible, but if it becomes a problem it gets expensive. Plus all of the food you eat after drinking isn’t good for you either!

    I do still tan occasionally. But it actually helps my eczema in the winter and its usually only once a week for a few months. It’s also free at my gym!

    1. Yes, alcohol can definitely be another big one.

  7. James @ Penny Wise Dollar Wiser

    I finally quit smoking almost 3 years ago. Had to quit cold turkey because there was no other way. When I tried quitting by cutting down slowly or just smoking socially, I ended up just picking up the habit again. Quitting was the best decision ever – I feel and smell so much better.

    Funny thing is it wasn’t the price that got me to stop smoking. I live in New York and saw the price grow from $2.50 a pack all the way to $15 and it never stopped me. As a smoker, you just find other places to cut costs so you can afford a pack of cigarette, rolled your own cigarettes, or stock up anything you go overseas and ask your friends to have pick several cartons of cigarettes.

    It’s true what they say – only those who are willing to help themselves can actually be helped.

  8. Hi Michelle,

    I can honestly say I have a few unhealthy habits right now that’s possibly hindering my entrepreneurial growth. One of them is failing to wake up every morning and get to the gym and do cardio on an empty stomach. When I was doing cardio on an empty stomach every other day in the morning before starting my day, I noticed I was able to successfully keep my weight down and maintain clarity of thought. Additionally, I had an extra sense of energy whereas I could write more content for the website. When I gained an unhealthy amount of weight and started feeling sluggish, my entrepreneurial productivity plummeted, as it also hurt my long-term search engine rankings and revenues. I’m guilty of indulging often at hibachi buffet restaurants and Lorenzo’s Pizza on South Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Lorenzo’s on South Street is highly addictive as their Pizza is like none other and tastes better than a lot of New York pizzerias.

    I’m sorry to hear your father passed from lung cancer. My mother is currently suffering from a bruised ankle and flesh slightly open that she’s been experiencing for the past 10 years. She goes to the doctor almost on a weekly basis and needs to have it thoroughly examined to make sure the wound is slowly closing up. I also tried to encourage her to do a slight bit of walking in the morning before starting her day as she too has a few unhealthy habits.

    Wasting money is something I drastically cut down on nowadays. I do spend a nice amount of money on sneakers, shoes, and boots, but strive not to spend excessively. Reason being is because I need to think about my future retirement and putting money away for my own pension fund.

    A good thing about striving to improve my health today is I always hated cigarettes and the smell of them. I couldn’t stand being around people who smoke cigarettes and smelled like a virtual chimney. If I pass by someone today who’s smoking a cigarette, I’ll try to hold my breath until I’m completely away from them or put my hand over my nose or my jacket. I always wondered what people get out of smoking cigarettes because it’s nothing like smoking marijuana where as you get high. I still don’t understand to this very day why people smoke cigarettes.

    I never took time to experiment with a tanning bed. I’ve heard bad news about them in the past and how they can potentially cause cancer. If I really want a tan, I’ll put on some lotion and hang out in the sun somewhere in Florida or down south.

    In reference to gambling, I was always stuck on stupid when it came to the casinos. I knew nothing more than putting a quarter or the casino coins in a slot machine and pulling the long handle and hoping to hit the right numbers in hopes of collecting lots of quarters before heading out the door on the way home. Unfortunately, that never happened. And I was really never the one to gamble my life away. I have family members who are allegedly addicted to gambling and stay far away from.

    In regards to social media and television, one thing I tell people is that they can actually make money watching TV and blogging reviews about what they watched on television. Of course, many people to this very day or still not in that mindset of making money off of blogging reviews after watching a television program or movie. Little do they know Michelle that they’re leaving money on the table. Isn’t that right? I barely watch TV today because I spend an ample amount of time creating Evergreen content and striving to build and sustain quality relationships with bloggers across the web such as yourself. (Smile)

    Lastly, I’m guilty of emotional spending if that’s what you want to call it. I like to buy certain products to feel some type of way about myself. I’m mindful to watch my spending because as you mentioned, it could lead me into tons of credit debt. And that’s something I don’t want to do. Therefore, I limit my spending and leave some things virtually on the table, or until a drastic clearance has been announced whereas the item I had an eye for is drastically reduced to virtually Pennies on the dollar.

    Thank you for the thought provoking post on unhealthy habits and spending money. 🙂

    P.S. If you see some of the works capitalized by mistake in sentences or words in the wrong place or the wrong word used, it’s because the speech recognition program on my phone I was using to write this lengthy comment did that and didn’t go back to proofread everything. L 😛 L

    1. I’ve been bad with waking up lately as well. I just can’t wake up in the mornings!

      I always enjoy your lengthy comments 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Don’t forget about eating out at restaurants, especially if it is a fast food chain. It is almost always cheaper and healthier to cook a meal at home!

  10. Yes, same here! Our TVs recently broke (yes, all of them because of an adapter that controls all of them) so we haven’t watched TV at all in about a month or two.

  11. Yes, emotional spending used to get me all the time too!

  12. George C

    Hi Michelle,

    Thank you for the post.

    For me, I have a terrible habit of emotional spending. But not on clothing or any long-term goods but just on food. Like chocolates and chips.

    OK nevermind, that’s just reckless spending on junk food!

    Although yes! Habits such as smoking and watching too much TV and/or overusing social media are all habits that can be severely detrimental to your wellbeing. From poisoning your body with toxic chemicals, losing valuable time that you could be using for more productive things and being emotionally influenced and even invested from the lives that other people put out on their online accounts, instead of focusing on living your own life ‘n focusing on spending time with the valuable people in your life.

    Also, sorry to hear about your father.

    1. I’m horrible when it comes to junk food spending too!

  13. I agree with all the above.

    The downside about blogging is that I started spending too much time on social media marketing my blog. I guess it comes with the territory.

  14. Stephen Goldstein

    Smoking is not only TERRIBLE for your health, but it can raise the costs of insurance and medical coverage exponentially! An EXPENSIVE and DESTRUCTIVE habit! Quit while your ahead.

  15. I have a couple of unhealthy habits that I need to work on. After Fincon, I will be sure to work on them.

  16. Arrgo

    Great points you mention here. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to question everything. You realize you dont need as much of this stuff as you thought you did and many of them are really bad for you. Alcohol costs can really add up and the hangovers are horrible which at times can cost you an extra day or 2 of productivity. I agree with you on TV too. To get your moneys worth out of it means you have to sit and watch it for hours and hours a day. Most of these shows are so stupid and dont even interest me anymore. I enjoy some shows and movies but I dont watch it that much anymore. I have a lot of other things I need to do anyway. Its all about getting some self control with these things, which in the end is much better for your health and finances.

  17. I agree with all the points. My biggest problem is smoking. Every day I regret starting, if I only knew how much money it will cost me and how difficult it will be to quit! I tried so many methods, I’m aware that there are absolutely no benefits from smoking, only harm, but still, even if I don’t smoke for weeks or months I always get back to it again 🙁 Although I’m feeling hopeless lately, I won’t give up and I know that some day I’ll quit for good.

  18. Great post! Crazy how it all adds up. I wrote a similar post and reflected on my husband’s habit of multiple Red Bull’s per day. Working together to find a cheaper alternative! https://broketobeach.com/2018/01/14/ditch-habits-save-money/

  19. DNN

    I must admit that I’m guilty of engaging in unhealthy habits, such as eating fast food and gaining unhealthy weight. But the good news is, I overcame “not on my own and I can’t take the credit” the unhealthy habit of alcoholism. I’ve been beer and liquor free for almost 7 years now and so happy the chains are off. I’m wine free now for almost 4 years. This means alcohol no longer consumes me and I have no interest in it anymore. Now, I’m working on a new weight loss transformation and staying on track with doing the transformation fitness workout of inspiration or desperation. 🙂