How alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and gambling impact finances

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Vices Costing You Money

The general public is routinely reminded to control their vices and bad habits. We are routinely presented with evidence of the harmful effects of our vices on our well being. However, it is not often that the harmful effects on our wallets are properly addressed. Examining our vices shows that prices have increased as part of government measures to discourage our bad and unhealthy habits. However, the negative effects of our vices on our health and finances have become more closely entwined with our health.

By taking a broad survey of the latest research across common consumer vices it is possible to spot connections between them. This includes vices such as tobacco and nicotine consumption, caffeinated products, alcoholic drinks, and routine gambling. In these connected areas they reinforce each other and lead to particularly troubling effects on our finances. Reducing usage can can result in positive effects for both the consumer’s health, and their wallet.

What are the typical annual costs of using tobacco or nicotine products?

It is not surprising news to anyone that the smoking of tobacco is an expensive indulgence. For decades governments have responded to the negative health effects of cigarettes. They did this with advertising bans and costly tax rates to inflate their price. A pack of cigarettes costs between £5 – £10 in the UK, and varies in the U.S. due to state taxes. The habitual nature of smoking, and incremental pack-by-pack purchasing is an ongoing burden over the heads of smokers. The NHS has calculated that the average UK smoker spends £128 every month on their habit. This equated to over £1500 a year.

The best way to combat this expenditure is ultimately to quit smoking. There are now various aids to help any smoker in their quitting journey, from e-cigarettes to nicotine patches. Estimates put the weekly price of e-cigarettes and vaping at around £8 a week. This represents a massive saving in comparison to smoking. E-cigarettes can lead to their own novel financial indulgences. Especially considering the prices of different liquid flavours vary as they become more exotic. However, the habit is less disruptive than traditional smoking and can lead to a reduction in smoking related expenses.

What alternatives do smokers have for saving money on their nicotine addition?

Nicotine patches too are much cheaper than cigarettes, and have proven an effective way for many to quit. Patches can now be prescribed as part of affordable treatment for nicotine addicts through many health service providers. Alongside nicotine therapy, a variety of health services now provide free, continuous support to help you quit. Smokefree offer free guidance on quitting smoking with their Personal Quit Plan. They have developed a free smartphone app available on both iOS and Android. The use of apps can help with the tracking of your progress, demonstrating the health benefits of your time smoke-free. This will allow you to log the times and your reactions to cravings, and provide a motivational boost to quitting. Ultimately, it is completely quitting nicotine related products that will lead to the greatest savings of all financially related lifestyle choices.

Recent studies in the US have suggested that what we drink can affect our perception of a cigarette’s taste. Fizzy drinks, alcohol, coffee and tea were all suggested to improve the taste of cigarettes. This research suggests that an effective way of reducing our smoking, and ultimately the financial and health price we pay for it, is to combine attempts to stymy our smoking with similar cost-cutting measure on other vices. Effective reduction of our expenditure on nicotine can go hand in hand with reduced consumption of caffeine.

What are the typical annual costs coffee consumers?

Recent studies have attempted to weigh up the price of our mass coffee consumption. Recent surveys estimate the average UK consumer spends around £303 a year on coffee. This number amounts to nearly 700 cups of coffee consumed by each of us per year. Those who frequent coffee shops as part of their daily commute or work break will find this figure even higher. This can be due to impulsive purchases at coffee shops prove particularly expensive. One way to both reduce coffee consumption and save money is set limits on consumption. Keeping consumption at a maximum of two cups per day, at designated times, and made at-home will bring down expenses. Setting limits will also bring down caffeine consumption, which can be further reduced with decaffeinated brews.

Consumers’ great love of caffeine may remain a less obvious affair than smoking. As a nation, the UK drinks around 95 million cups of coffee a day. Of those who frequent coffee shops 80% visit weekly, and 20% daily. Its clear that we love our coffee and caffeine, though few would suggest that our love is unhealthy. Coffee has done wonders for productivity in the office, home or at the gym. However, it’s effect on our personal finances are a different story.

What about spending on caffeinated or high energy drinks?

Energy drinks are another staple of society’s dependence on high caffeine consumption. Energy drinks are defined as any drink exceeding 150mg of caffeine per litre, usually containing around 300mg. This limit implies that energy drinks have less caffeine than filter coffee, which is around 400mg of caffeine. However, energy drinks’ large serving sizes and variety of flavours encourage mass, habitual consumption. This is particularly true amongst men aged 16 to 24. The energy drinks industry has experienced year on year growth over the last decade. This likely indicates that consumption is increasing.

Habitual consumption can lead to negative consequences including headaches and hyperactivity. To avoid unhealthy symptoms as a result of energy drink consumption, consume them in moderation. Try removing them from your habitual shop or daily routine. One way to decrease this consumption is to replace them with a fresh fruit juice or smoothie. These provide a healthier alternative, which if made freshly at home and refrigerated can save you money. Shakes can provide an effective energy boost without the risk of negative health consequences.

What do households usually spend on alcohol?

Recent age restrictions placed on energy drinks now put them in a similar position to another of the nation’s favourite drinks: alcohol. Four in five of UK adults are drinkers. As a nation the UK averages a weekly household spend of £8.70 on alcohol for home consumption. The average drops to £8.00 on alcohol consumed in venues like pubs and bars. Where beer and wine are the most popular drinks. Though alcohol is generally becoming more affordable, it leads to an increased tendency to unnecessarily spend or binge drink. The rise of subscription-based alcohol deliveries is another example of affordability and convenience combining to promote unnecessary expenditure.

What percentage of income goes to food and drink spending?

Recent findings show that over 6.5% of the average person’s weekly spending on food and drink is on alcoholic drinks. In additional to refraining from binge-drinking, there are other ways to save money when purchasing alcohol. These include buying in bulk to save for special occasions. Bulk buying and duty-free purchases offer the most obvious discounts on alcohol. Refraining from impulsive purchases whilst out at bars and clubs will also lighten your weekly alcohol expenditure. Purchasing and sharing a bottle of wine whilst out is cheaper than purchasing multiple individual glasses. Otherwise, opting for a pitcher can be an additional cost-saving way to share the fun. Perhaps the best way of all to limit your expenditure on alcohol is to plan a weekly alcohol budget. This will save you money whilst also limiting your consumption. Thus, giving your body and your bank account a much-needed break at the same time.

How does gambling impact a person’s finances?

Gambling and drinking have long been associated, and recent research is continually defining more clearly the link between the two. People who keep drinking and gambling apart are much less likely to be problem gamblers. Whereas those who mix drinking and gambling have a much higher likelihood of having gambling addiction. Gambling is a financial risk, one where you either win or you lose, and it will often be the latter. Combining gambling with drinking, especially heavy drinking which strongly impairs judgement, is unlikely to prove a wise financial decision. Perhaps the most important way of saving money whilst gambling, is to not mix that gambling with heavy drinking.

Individuals can limit gambling activities by not allowing it to become a considerable past-time. If you do gamble, limit the time that you spend. This is easier outside of a drinking environment. Keep gambling contained as a small hobby. Think of it as a brief piece of entertainment rather than an escape, or worse, as an ill-fated money-making opportunity. Gambling companies have adapted to technology over the years. Thus, making the past time more accessible and harder to ignore. Perhaps the wisest approach to gambling is to remember: when the fun stops, stop.

Another way to save money whilst gambling involves a similar technique to the management of alcohol expenditure. Pre-budgeting for gambling restricts you to an acceptable amount of money to risk beforehand. This allows people to gamble in moderation. With a pre-defined budget, it is easier to cope with losses as they have already been prepared for. Otherwise, you may chase after previous losses in the hopes of a quick, unlikely win to return you into profit. Other ways to save money is to seek out bonus offers. Bonus offers are provided to newcomers or during promotions through various bookmakers’ platforms.

Save money by saving your health

The price of our vices appears small and less noticeable when mixed with our daily habits and weekly shops. We are perhaps all likely to avoid looking at our receipts for too long. On bank statements, habitual payments build up which outweigh the pleasure of irresponsible indulgence in our vices. By regulating many areas of our lifestyles simultaneously, we can cut back on our bad habit expenditures.

Wrap up

Mixed expenses can be particularly punishing where they are interrelated. However, they can be tackled simultaneously to bring about positive effects for both our health and our bank statements. Governments continue to work to discourage vices and unhealthy practises with economic measures. The health of our bodies and the health of our finances are more linked than ever. Regulating our vices means regulating our expenditure, and regulating our expenditure means regulating our vices.