How to turn a vice into a vacation
By Angela Spires
Vices--habits we would like to break, but just don't. Mine was an addiction to Dr. Pepper, but once I looked at not only the health benefit of lowering my soda intake, but also the financial impact--about $250 per year in soda alone--I knew it was time to make a change. By cutting back to one can per day, I was saving more than $150 a year.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey, in 2010, Americans spent between $5,800 and $7,100 per person on media, alcohol, and dining out--three of the top five vices for Americans.
Giving up a vice isn't always the easiest thing to do, but you may be more inclined if you know what else you could be doing with that money. Imagine what you could do with these savings in your personal savings accounts or savings account alternatives.
1. From Dining out to Disneyland
A Disneyland family package, including airfare, runs about $5,000. Wonder where you can come up with the money for a week of family fun?
The average expense, per person, for dining out is over $2,600 a year. For a family of four, that is over $10,000. Considering the price of a home-made meal is approximately a third of the price of dining out, this can become an annual savings of nearly $7,000.
But this doesn't mean you can't still enjoy a night out for special occasions, or nights when you just don't want to cook. Use coupons to help you save on your meals, and for increased savings values, make sure you are using the right rewards credit card to maximize your travel spending.
Soon enough, you'll find the funds to get you and your family to the happiest place on earth.
2. From Patron to Prada
The average consumer spends between $300 and $500 a year on alcoholic beverages. You don't have to give it up completely, but taking advantage of happy hour prices can help you save. Or, host a party that is BYOB; let others supply the booze, while you start saving.
One smart way to save money and have those luxury items you want is to set aside a percentage of what you would normally spend on alcohol for your savings. Start by splitting these savings 60/40, where the money is in your savings, but 60 percent nestles into your personal savings account, and the other 40 percent goes toward the desired luxury item.
Always had your eye on a Prada bag? They can run in the thousands. If you cut your alcohol out for a year, the $500 you save could buy a tote or wallet, and to boost your savings, try last season's styles, or sales, so you can get that purse that you want and still keep some money in the bank.
3. From Movies to mortgage-free
It's no surprise that consumers spend so much on entertainment each year--the entertainment industry is thriving, with consumers spending up to $3,300 a year.
Consider holding off on those movies by catching a matinee for less, or waiting until they are at Red Box. Deposit the money you save each month into your savings account, then apply it to your monthly mortgage.
If a couple spends over $6,600 a year on entertainment, that is an extra $550 a month that could be applied to your mortgage. Applying more to your principal each month can help to decrease the amount of time you'll be paying off your loan by about half, depending on your mortgage. Use a mortgage calculator to see how it could impact your mortgate terms.
Of course, utilize other means of mortgage reduction if possible, too. Fewer payments can help you save in the long run for your future. The quicker you are out of debt, the more money you have to put into your savings accounts.