Alcohol is the Most Expensive Vice

by Justin Weinger on November 19, 2006

According to a recent poll on Saving Without A Budget, most people consider alcohol to be their most expensive vice.

Of the 53 people who voluntarily responded to the poll, 25% (13 respondents) said alcohol was the vice they spent the most amount of money on, while impulse buying came in second place with 23% (12 respondents).  Smoking and food were each tied for third place with 17% (9 respondents).  13% of respondents (7 people) stated they didn’t have an expensive vice, while 6% of respondents (3 people) said gambling was their most expensive habit.

With Americans spending over $90 billion annually on alcohol (according to Drug Rehab.org), it’s easy to see why most people would list it as their most expensive vice.

When I put together this poll, I thought the two predominant responses would be alcohol or smoking, and I was kind of surprised that alcohol ended up with nearly two times the number of responses.  In looking at the answers, it seems to me that there are a lot of subtle reasons why people would spend more on alcohol than on smoking.

  • Smoking seems much more frowned upon than drinking.  It seems everywhere you turn there is an anti-smoking ad on television or somewhere in print, while the only real anti-drinking ads deal just with drinking and driving.
  • Smoking has been banned in many places (even in bars) while there has been no such push for alcohol.
  • Alcohol just tends to be more expensive than tobacco.  For example, if you go out to a bar, you can expect to pay the same price for one beer as a pack of cigarettes.
  • More people smoke than drink.  According to UCDMC, between 20 and 25% of Americans smoke, while according to the USDA, nearly 67% of Americans over the age of 21 regularly consumed alcohol.

So, if you’re trying to “clean up” your life and kick some bad habits, it looks like alcohol might be the best place for you to start.  Not only will it help your physical health, but for most people it looks like it could help your financial health as well.

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