Putting a price tag on bad habits

WASHINGTON – How much do your bad habits cost you?

Bankrate crunched the numbers and found they could cost thousands of dollars every year.

Cigarettes run $5 to $12 a pack, for example. If a smoker spends $7 a day to light up, it adds up to $2,555 a year.

The cost of smoking also drives insurance rates up, spiking yearly costs even higher.

Also, alcohol costs big bucks. Going out five nights a week and paying $6 a drink — if you’re lucky — comes in at $1,560 a year.

Harrine Freeman, a personal finance expert in Bethesda, Md., has a few tricks for saving cash at the bar.

“If you go out to drink, go to happy hour,” Freeman says.

Additionally, she says sitting next to the bar is a bad idea, because it’s too easy to keep the drinks coming.

Also, don’t be too generous

“Don’t buy shots, don’t buy rounds,” says Freeman.

Enjoying happy hour from home can save money, she says.

Poor eating and being overweight can cost a lot. According to researchers at George Washington University, the more a person weighs, the more they pay in medical bills and health insurance. Throughout a year, the university says the cost of being obese is $2,646 for a man and $4,879 for women.

Freeman says paying with plastic is a big part of the over-spending problem.

“Because everyone accepts credit cards and debit cards nowadays, it’s so much easier to get into debt,” she says.

Freeman tells her clients to put away the credit cards and only take cash to the store.

“Once you run out of cash, you can’t spend any more money unless you go get some more cash,” she says.

Finally, procrastination is costing cash too. Gym membership going unused? Didn’t cash in those coupons or rebates? All in all it could run about $600 a year.

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