How much does your vice cost?

By Stew


Wikipedia defines a vice as a practice or a habit considered immoral, depraved, and/or degrading in the associated society. In more minor usage, vice can refer to a fault, a defect, an infirmity or merely a bad habit.

Recently, I spent some time thinking about how much money I spend on things that I really do not need – not necessarily things that make life easier – but rather things that are simply a habit, a pleasure or a waste of time. I am not going to exactly reveal my particular “vices”, but I think it is a good idea once in a while to take stock of the little money trickles in our budget. You know the holes that allow a few bucks to slip through during the course of a month? Some of these items might even have a legitimate place in our lives, but we all must consider the cost.

  • Coffee: $.50 a day   $15.00 a month   $180 a year (if you make it at home)
  • Cigarettes: $4.50 a day   $135 a month   $1,620 a year (pack a day)
  • Alcohol: $10.00 a week   $40 a month   $480 a year (conservatively)
  • Soda: $4.00 a week   $16.00 a month   $192 a year (two cans a day from the grocery store)
  • Cable: $55 a month   $660 a year (low end package)
  • Gambling: $250 in Vegas   $100 year in lottery tickets   $500 ($10 a week in your home game)
  • Cigars: $6 a week   $24 a month   $288 a year (really cheap cigars)
  • Golf: the sky is the limit . . .
  • Marijuana: $15 a week   $60 a month   $720 a year
  • Eating out: $50 a week   $200 a month   $2,400 a year
  • Spectator Sports: $150 a month   $1,800 a year
  • Tattoos:   $100 a year
  • Shoes:   $50 a week   $600 a year

Okay, obviously some of these may or may not qualify as vices, but we could probably find a way to do without every item on this list. Pick out your particular weaknesses, add up the yearly cost and then compare that sum to your monthly budget, your typical paycheck or some other legitimate expense that is a part of life for you. Then ask yourself if it is worth it.

For some of us, eliminating a vice or two could have the effect of a five or ten percent raise. Now you can make an informed decision about whether the pleasure derived from that vice is worth the cost.

Article by Stew

17 Responses (including trackbacks) to “How much does your vice cost?”

  1. Kate Says:

    Ah, yes, the good old vice list. I definitely see a few of mine on there…I do love my wine. As you mentioned, though, some of these items might not be entirely bad in moderation. It would be interesting to see a post on how to make the most of vices, rather than cutting them out of our lives. For example, I planted a grape vine in my garden this summer with the hope of eventually making my own wine in a few years (with more than one vine, of course) Not only am I turning a vice into a fun hobby, but I might even have a little extra wine for gifts!

  2. Craig Says:

    My vice is buying books. Used to be DVDs until I signed up for Netflix. But I still enjoy reading hardcover books and something about the experience and then putting it on the shelf. I like reading and usually buy 1-2 new books a month which can add up quickly.

  3. sir jorge Says:

    my vice used to be books, but i found the library

    then my vice was coffee, so i married a barista…now my vice is free

    what’s left?

    i’d say dvd’s, the walmart $5 section is tough to beat

  4. Stew Says:

    Kate – I’m not advocating quitting one’s vice cold turkey – just evaluating based on the financial side. Other ways to evaluate them would be in reference to time – health concerns – annoyance to others – etc.

  5. Mike Says:

    oh my! great list Stew! I have about the same amount of vices but with different amount ;-)

    Clothing : $2,000 per year, however a part of it is for suits and ties for work.

    Wine: $20 a week, so $1,040 per year. I love good wine… can’t live without it anymore!

    Coffee: same as yours, I was able to cut down on Starbucks for the past 2 months! home coffee doesn’t taste as good but it is much cheaper!

    Golf: I hear you!

    Eating out: same here… food is so good I can’t picture myself cutting on food either :-(

    great post!

  6. Charles Says:

    Ahhh… alcohol, marijuana, coffee, eating out and motorcycles. You are my vices (and expensive too). Good thing I’m frugal in most other parts of my life, make a great income, earn extra income on the side, and save almost 50% of my income. I’m ok with some vices as long as it doesn’t effect other parts of your life negatively.

  7. Jason Says:

    I recently quit smoking, and one of the thoughts that kept me going was telling myself that I was giving myself a $200 raise every month.
    I have also cut out soda and most eating out.
    I found these to be fairly painless changes that have brought down my monthly expenses to a level that will allow for more choices as far as employment goes.

  8. Credit Card Chaser Says:

    My vice would definitely be Dr Pepper. :)

  9. Stew Says:

    Just so everyone knows – this is not MY vice list – just a random list of possible vices. :)

  10. Jen Says:

    Hey there- wondering where cigarettes are $4.20??? I DO NOT smoke, but i work at a store where we sell cigs and a pack after taxes is $8.27!! Everytime someone buys a pack I wonder “How can they afford this awful habit?” and how do you justify that money when you know it is hurting your health?

    My personal vice is Ordering In… we don’t usuallyeat out with 3 kids it’s just a bit too much… but we do order in way too much… chinese, pizza, dinner food, too many choices and it is too easy to have it delivered!

    thanks for writing- love your blog!

  11. MITBeta @ Don't Feed The Alligators Says:

    Clearly the lesson in this list is: stop smoking cigarettes and switch to marijuana.

  12. FrugalMaman Says:

    This is an excellent example of how to examine your spending to find the ‘leaks’. We regularly do this in our home and have done so over the past several years. As we cut out or replace or revise one or two, we find another one to tackle. Gradual change is more sustainable. We’ve cut out a lot of eating out/ordering in, shopping for pleasure, buying books and DVDs (the ones we want we borrow from the library or put on a wishlist for birthday or Christmas), junk food, and the big one: satellite tv service. That one alone was a big change and one we have not regretted in the least. We used a little of the savings to upgrade our internet service and the rest is used for other bills. I definitely don’t advocate giving up all vices, but an honest evaluation of spending is always a good thing.