Menstuff® has compiled the following information on vices. This does include pornography, sex, shoes, cosmetics, and electronic gadgets. Just coffee, cigarettes, and alcohol.

Are your vices killing your finances?
Top 5 Vices that Blow Your Money

Top 5 Vices that Blow Your Money

WE ALL HAVE OUR vices, and many of them are part of our everyday routines. Whether you indulge in smoking or gambling, or harder-to-recognize vices, like texting too much or excessive shopping, chances are you don't realize just how much money you're squandering.

1. Smoking

Sure, a pack of smokes isn't cheap (especially in areas like New York City, where they cost about $7.) But a lifelong smoking habit will cost you significantly more than that. Consider this: A 24-year-old male and female who smoke for 60 years will spend $220,000 and $106,000, respectively, not only on cigarettes but also on higher life- and property-insurance premiums, medical care, and lost earnings due to disability, according to 2004 research conducted by Dr. Frank Sloan, Duke University professor and co-author of "The Price of Smoking."

Smokers get hit especially hard with their life-insurance premiums. When a smoker is 60 years old, he or she will pay $5,360 per year in premiums for a 10-year term, $500,000 standard policy, according to the Insurance Information Institute's 2006 figures. A nonsmoker would pay $2,275, a 57.5% difference.

The effects of smoking are also felt in the workplace. Smokers earn $26,000 less than nonsmokers over their lifetime, according to Sloan. "They're less likely to be promoted because they're away from their desks often taking smoking breaks, and they tend to be sick and miss work more often than nonsmokers," says Sloan.

The financial hit even follows a smoker to his or her final resting place. Nonsmokers see an extra $5,127 in Social Security payments that smokers miss out on because of their reduced life expectancy, according to Sloan.

See our story Get Rich: Quit Smoking for more ways that smoking is costing you.

2. Shopping

Compulsive buying disorder is estimated to affect up to 16% of the U.S. population, according to a 2006 report co-authored by Dr. Lorrin Koran, professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Stanford University's School of Medicine, and its financial strains are felt by both the shopper and his or her family.

"Often, the financial damage is discovered by a spouse or family member only after the shopper has accumulated a large debt," says Dr. Maressa Hecht Orzack, assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Computer Addiction Study Center at McLean Hospital. The average compulsive shopper has debts totaling around $20,000, according to Terrence Shulman, director of The Shulman Center, which provides treatments for overspending disorders. And many have tabs much higher than that.

Those suffering from serious addiction should seek the help of a psychiatrist. But for those who have simply developed a bad habit of overindulgence, there are simple strategies to keep spending in check (such as shopping with a friend and using cash whenever possible) and to pay down bills. Click here for advice on how to dig out of debt.

3. Texting

So compared with smoking and compulsive shopping, a texting addiction probably sounds pretty tame. But it can be very costly -- particularly if you've got teenage kids. If your child wields a cellphone, chances are you've been paying for his or her relentless text-messaging habits. Last year, 158 billion texts were sent in the U.S., up 95% from 2005, according to CTIA-The Wireless Association. Many of them were sent by cellphone users in their early teens to their mid-20s, according to Roger Etner, senior vice president of communication sector at IAG Research.

"This generation is texting away at a fanatical rate," says Etner. "It's typical to hear of children racking up 5,000 to 6,000 texts in a month." Sound crazy? A teen can easily reach 200 texts in just a few days. Typically, he or she will send and receive 10 messages in just one conversation, and this can happen in a minute, Etner notes. If your child sends 5,000 text messages in a month, you could easily pay $480 or more.

Parents looking to safeguard themselves from skyrocketing bills should pass on the 200 messages-a-month plans. Once the kid has passed 200 texts, the register moves very quickly. After that, most text messages range from 10 to 15 cents.

Instead, for a few more dollars, choose an unlimited text-messaging plan, which is offered by most phone services. Make sure it includes texting to all networks, not just your own. For example, AT&T offers 200 in-network messages a month for only $5, but for $15 extra, you can get unlimited texting to anyone on any network.

4. Being a Night Owl

Do you often find yourself trying to sneak in an afternoon nap at your cubicle? Chances are you're getting less than the eight to 8.5 hours of sleep recommended by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Around 29% of men and 28% of women get six hours or less of sleep each night, according to a 2006 report by the National Center for Health Statistics at the Center for Disease Control.

"People who sleep less than six hours are less motivated than those who get a full night of sleep," says Dr. Michael Twery, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research. "They experience lapses in vigilance, their motivation is undermined, and their ability to make decisions is affected."

According to the National Sleep Foundation's 2002 poll, between 50% and 60% of workers said it's difficult to produce quality work and to follow instructions when they lack sleep. "We all operate on a biological clock," says Twery. "Once its rhythm is disturbed, we're likely to see negative effects not only at work but in our health and our personal lives."

5. Lottery

Known by some as a "tax on the poor," the lottery can wreck havoc on people's finances, especially those in lower-income groups across the country, says Gerald Busald, professor of mathematics and statistics at San Antonio College. In Syracuse, N.Y., 46% of residents with a median household income of $22,000 spend $595 on lottery tickets per year, according to a 2002 study conducted by Dr. Sandra Lane, chair and professor of health and wellness at Syracuse University. "This is an inverse relationship," says Lane. "The poorer the people, the more money they spend on the lottery."

The most popular games among the poor are the scratch-offs. "They offer instant gratification and return around 65% of the money that you put into them," says Busald. "But rather than keeping that money, most players use it to buy more scratch-offs until they've lost all their cash. It's the poor person's casino."

Are your vices killing your finances?

Light up a cigarette and grab your beverage of choice, because here comes a real eye-opener.

Most of us are well aware of the costs of the seven deadly sins. We may even know the downside of ignoring the five basic food groups.

But we probably have never stopped to do the math on our three favorite vices: alcohol, cigarettes and coffee.

Talk about a buzz kill, right? These are the personal indulgences we hold near and dear. They provide the moments of sheer visceral pleasure that get us through the heavy slogging of daily life. Don't let retirement sneak up on you.

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Not only are we willing to pay the oh-so-affordable retail price for these self-rewards, we actually bundle them into our cost of living without a second thought, as if they were necessities like groceries, toothpaste or gas for the road.

Granted, each is addictive and has physiological side effects we'd rather not dwell on, ranging from hypertension to lung cancer, sleep disorders to emphysema, halitosis to heart attacks. Hey, everything can kill you if you look at it hard enough.

But when we consider the daily tab from starting each morning with a Starbucks double-tall latte, inhaling a pack of cigarettes throughout the day and capping the old 8-to-5 with a couple of drinks at the local watering hole, it can sometimes feel like we're working to support our crutches.

No one is suggesting that you heartlessly kick your three amigos to the curb and get thee to the nearest yoga class (which can also be pricey!). But if sizable expenses are beginning to appear on your radar -- perhaps a larger house, or college for the twins -- you may be surprised at how much you can save by sacrificing one or more of your favorite vices.

To aid in calculating the cost of our three most popular vices, Bankrate obtained retail pricing in Seattle, Austin, Texas, and Orlando, Fla., at Applebee's (domestic bottle beer and call liquor), 7-Eleven (cigarettes) and Starbucks (double-tall latte), then averaged each unit price. On cigarettes and coffee, we rounded up to the nearest dollar to account for tax. On alcohol, we factored in a 20% tip on the average cost, then rounded up to the nearest dollar to account for tax.

Light up a cigarette and grab your beverage of choice because here comes a real eye-opener.

Alcohol: Sobering savings

Alcohol, long reviled as "demon rum," has been enjoying a new respectability lately thanks to medical studies that show that a little tippling can be good for the heart.

"Ethanol in and of itself makes platelets, the clotting factors in blood, less sticky, so you decrease the possibility they will clog arteries," says Dr. Ruth Kava, director of nutrition for the American Council on Science and Health.

Kava says the operative word is moderation.

"I don't see a health reason to quit if you are drinking one to two drinks a day for a man or one drink a day for a woman," she says. "You're doing something there that could actually reduce your health-care costs down the line, as long as you don't go overboard."

Gregory Bloss, public health analyst for the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in Rockville, Md., says that while one or two drinks may not kill you, the amounts consumed by over-drinkers cost society as a whole in the neighborhood of $185 billion annually. In addition to traffic injuries and other accidents, alcohol abuse is statistically tied to a host of major diseases, including cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, pancreatitis, alcoholic cardiomyopathy and a host of cancers.

Bloss says the true costs of prolonged and excessive alcohol use can more accurately be measured in non-physiological ways. For instance, alcohol-dependent individuals who took their first drink by age 15 earn roughly 13.1% less than their peers. And given the recent federal mandate lowering the blood alcohol level for driving while intoxicated from 0.1 to 0.08, they have an increased risk of receiving a costly DUI and having their insurance premiums skyrocket.

Speaking of insurance, though it's not generally known, insurers in all but four states (as of 2004) can include a provision in your policy that exempts them from paying for damages or losses you sustained while intoxicated. Though this escape clause in the Uniform Accident and Sickness Policy Provision Law (or UPPL) is most-often included in health-care coverage, some jurisdictions allow it in accident, long-term care and disability policies, too.

"For the majority of people who say they drink, probably the most direct economic effect would just be the expenditure on beverages," Bloss says. "But for the smaller portion of people who drink heavily, either on a consistent or episodic basis, there are substantial potential additional costs they might avoid by not drinking."

Based on our three-city survey, Bankrate found that a domestic bottle of beer plus tip on average will run you $4, while a call drink (lowest-price name brands) will run you $6 a pop. If you have two beers or drinks each day, here's your bar tab:

Weekly: $56 for beer; $84 for call drinks.
Monthly: $240 beer, $360 for call drinks.
Annually: $2,920 beer; $4,380 for call drinks.

If you're a two-beers-a-day guy and go on the wagon, the money you would save could pay for books and a full year's tuition at a public community college, which averages $2,076 according to the American Association of Community Colleges. If you prefer mixed drinks, you can cut your daily consumption in half and still afford a year's tuition. Eliminate both post-work highballs and you can spring for a big-screen TV as well.

If you were to put your bar tab into a tax-free 529 college savings plan earning 7% for your newborn, by the time she's ready for college you would have accumulated $99,277 (beer drinker) or $148,916 (call drinks), before taxes.

Cigarettes: Big bucks up in smoke

By now, no rational human would put a cigarette between his lips, so comprehensive are the health arguments against it. Among our three vices, Kava says, "The biggest threat is going to be smoking, without a doubt."

While the morbidity rates for cigarettes and cancer grab most of the headlines, Kava says they only scratch the surface of the toll tobacco takes on the populace.

"The area of concern that I think is not played up enough are the chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases like emphysema," she says. "That's sort of hideous; people don't really have enough breath to do much of anything. As a society, we seem to pay a lot more attention to cancer, but in terms of debilitating diseases, emphysema ranks way up there."

The problem isn't the nicotine, she says, although it is addictive and can increase the heart rate and slightly elevate blood pressure; the bigger threats are in the tars and toxins, including carbon monoxide, that get inhaled and absorbed into the bloodstream.

"I would rather see somebody with a lifelong addiction to nicotine use something like the patch or lozenges or nasal sprays with nicotine for the rest of their lives if they can just quit smoking," she says. "That's a much better tradeoff for reducing the risk of these very serious diseases. Just about anything is better than smoking tobacco."

OK, Mr. or Ms. Pack-a-day, here's your money going up in smoke:

Bankrate average price of a pack of cigarettes: $5

Daily pack: $5
Weekly: $35
Monthly: $150
Annually: $1,825

That puts that annual community college tuition just $251 away. Put that into a tax-free 529 college savings plan earning 7% for your newborn and by the time he turns 18, you'll have stashed away $62,048 before taxes for college.

Morning buzz: Let's count the beans

OK, enough with the ear beating: We're not about to argue that your morning self-defibrillation with Colombia's legal cash crop is a bad thing. Indeed, according to the National Coffee Association, the average American consumes more than three cups of hot brown bean water daily. Heck, if it weren't for coffee, even might be little more than a blank screen!

"I don't really see any health consequences down the road from a reasonable intake of caffeine," admits Kava. "If you can afford Starbucks and that's your favorite caffeinated choice, I don't see any reason not to have one in the morning, although you might consider nonfat milk in place of whole."

Ah, yes -- if you can afford it. Cue the froth-maker please!

Bankrate average price for a Starbucks double tall latte: $4.

Daily double tall latte: $4
Weekly: $28
Monthly: $120
Annually: $1,460

You know what? When you consider the Wi-Fi access, the social and business contacts, the career advancement you can expect for all your buzzed-out hard work and the free chocolate-covered espresso bean that comes with it, that morning 'Bucks bump is one luxury you can definitely afford. Enjoy!

Source; Jay MacDonald is a contributing editor based in Mississippi,

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