How much could you save by kicking your bad habits?
5 min | 15 May 2023
Do you have a vice, guilty pleasure or bad habit? We all deserve treats, but some habits could be costing more than you realise or are willing to admit.
We've rounded up some common costly habits, the average spends for those and a few tips to help you cut back.
Smoking and vaping
Smoking is a costly habit and difficult to stop. It’s not a lifestyle choice but an addiction, says the public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).
A pack of 20 king-size filter cigarettes costs an average of £13.45, says the Office for National Statistics (ONS). On average, smokers smoke 20 cigarettes a day; that’s a spend of £94.15 per week, or £4,895.80 per year and around a third of households in poverty are home to a smoker.
Vaping, which involves the use of e-cigarettes, will still set you back around around £35 a month, based on 2-3ml of e-liquid per day and one coil per week. Reducing or quitting your vaping habit could save you close to £420 a year.
Vaping could even become more expensive. ASH is calling on the government to add a £4 excise tax on single-use vapes to make them less affordable for children.
Like smoking, there are medical concerns about chemicals in vapes and their effect on people's lung, heart and fertility health. The NHS's Stop Smoking Service (Opens in new window) can provide free advice, support and encouragement.
Do you own a car you don’t use much? Research suggests we have a deep emotional attachment to our cars, but around two-thirds of the 2.6 million registered cars in London, for example, are unused during the week.
Figures suggest the average cost of running a car is £3,500 a year, including fuel, tax, insurance and servicing.
Consider switching to public transport if you live in an area with decent bus or train links or try car sharing or hiring a car when you need one.
The average takeaway coffee costs £3.40. Buying five a week could set you back £17 a week, £74 a month or £888 a year. You could drop to one or two a week and make your own the rest of the time.
Takeaways and food waste
The typical Brit spends £42.30 per person per month on restaurants and takeaways. Add your yearly takeaway coffee and restaurant/takeaway bills together and you're looking at around £1,300 a year you could be saving.
Getting a takeaway is likely to be cheaper than eating at a restaurant, but more expensive than cooking your own food.
Food waste is another costly bad habit – both for your pocket and the planet. The average UK family throws away £800 of edible food a year, with bread, bananas and milk the most binned items. In the UK, around 6.4 million tonnes of edible food is thrown away annually – equal to 15 billion meals.
To cut back on takeaways and fast-food waste, you could delete fast-food apps from your phone, try leftover recipes and food hacks online, and consider drawing up weekly meal plans. If you live with flatmates, you could share cooking to spread the cost and reduce your food waste. The World Economic Forum has more zero-waste ideas (Opens in new window) to try.
The average UK household spends £11.30 a week (£49 a month) on alcohol, according to the latest data from the ONS.
Public health advice is not to drink more than 14 units a week (equivalent to six 175 ml glasses of wine or six pints of 4% lager). It’s worth noting that one alcoholic drink for a woman is equivalent to two drinks for a man, based on the average female body composition, according to a Harvard University study.
One of the best ways to cut back is to opt for small glasses or half pints, and to have booze-free days. Check out the Drinkaware charity for more tips on reducing (Opens in new window) your alcohol consumption.
Potential monthly savings
- Smoking or vaping £35 to £408: Check out the NHS’s ‘Quit smoking’ page
- Car ownership £318: Use public transport, or try car sharing or rentals
- Food waste £67: Plan your meals, cook with others, or get creative with leftovers
- Coffee (based on one takeaway a day) £74: Cut back to every other day and make your own
- Takeaways £42.30: Plan your meals and delete takeaway apps
- Alcohol £49: Choose half measures and have ‘drink-free’ days
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Disclaimer: The information in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional financial, health or addiction-related advice. Please contact a relevant professional or support group should you require advice.