Business

Four guilty pleasures that are costing you more than you might imagine

Drinking is an American pastime. But it can get expensive, even if you’re just enjoying a few glasses of wine a week.
Drinking is an American pastime. But it can get expensive, even if you’re just enjoying a few glasses of wine a week. TNS

Whether you’re on a tight budget or have enough money left over each month to make a few frivolous purchases, you know that when it comes to spending money, you have your Achilles’ heel. If you tackle the bars with friends on the weekends, make the occasional splurge at the mall or have date nights at the movies, you’re dropping a lot of money.

And if you’ve convinced yourself these indulges aren’t costing you a lot, or they’re somehow worth it — think again. Here are several ways you’re burning through your paycheck.

Alcohol

Drinking is an American pastime. Between St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras and, well, the weekend, a few drinks now and then could be setting you back. And while you might skimp on nights out at the bar, your at-home libations could still be costing you.

A 1.75-liter bottle of Skyy or Smirnoff vodka will set you back between $25 and $33, while higher-end brands like Ketel One will cost you closer to $45 or more. Don’t forget: You’ll need mixers for hard liquor, too.

If you’re more of a wine drinker, you can buy cheap bottles of wine, but they’ll go faster if you indulge while watching “The Bachelor.” To save on costs, you can always drink less, or put your warehouse club membership to work.

Chances are, though, that you prefer a beer with your dinner or to unwind after work. A six-pack of Heineken will cost you around $9 or $10, which can add up quickly if you’re cracking open a few to watch sports. If you’ve hopped aboard the craft beer train, expect to pay more per six-pack. Ballast Point Sculpin runs between $13 and $16.

And don’t forget entry costs to the Great American Beer Festival, among other boozy celebrations, which can cost around $80 or more.

Smoking

Whether you smoke cigarettes or marijuana, you’re dropping a lot of dough on a smelly habit.

It’s no surprise cigarettes are expensive. The Awl compared the cost of a pack of cigarettes in every state, and pricing ranged from a low of $5.19 in Kentucky to $12.60 in New York. If you’re smoking a pack a week, that’s $269.88 to $655.20 a year.

You might have also heard the news: Cigarettes are bad for your health. But you might not be giving much thought to the cost behind cancer, stroke or even tooth decay due to smoking. Your health-related costs per pack of cigarettes is $35, according to the American Cancer Society.

If you smoke pot, you’re not paying much less. Sure, health-care costs related to smoking weed are negligible, but your cost per ounce can be high depending on where you live.

According to PriceofWeed.com, an ounce of high-quality marijuana will run you an average $320.66. Opt for medium quality and you’re looking at an average cost of $279.24. That pricing doesn’t include your cost for munchies, either.

Movies

If catching the latest flicks in theaters is your guilty pleasure, you’re likely paying s between $8 and $20, depending on the theater and location. Add the cost of popcorn, which can be $4 or more, and you’re looking at $48 to $96 a month, assuming you’re hitting the theaters alone four times a month. Hopefully, you’re not thirsty.

Movie rentals are a good alternative (may Blockbuster rest in peace). Redbox is your best bet, offering one-night rentals for around $1. Amazon and iTunes rentals will run you between $3.99 and $5.99. Just don’t buy any movies. Each movie you buy can run you between $10 and $20, or more.

Gaming

If you’re an avid gamer, take a deep breath. This one might hurt.

According to Statista, computer and video game sales topped $16.5 billion in 2015, up from $15.98 billion in 2009. And Americans are spending more time playing games each day, from 17.8 minutes per day in 2008 to 23.2 minutes in 2013. By 2018, you’re liable to put in 28.3 minutes each day playing games.

As mobile apps grow in popularity, as well as microtransactions and downloadable content (DLCs), video game companies will squeeze a little more money from your entertainment budget every year.

Take the popular free-to-play computer game “League of Legends.” Its business model is based on getting players to buy mostly cosmetic items. Yes, you can get by without paying a dime for the game, but that’s not what’s happening. The company behind the game, Riot Games, made $946 million between January and September 2014, according to SuperData Research.

Gaming companies also use DLCs to extend the life of aging titles. That’s good for current players — mostly. With new content rolling out, players need to keep buying into DLCs to gain access to the latest and sometimes best in-game items. Those costs are on top of your purchase for the base game.

And don’t overlook potential monthly subscription costs. The popular “World of Warcraft” game charges players between $12.99 and $14.99 each month. If you’re a console gamer, you’re liable to pay a monthly fee to play online multiplayer games, too. A 12-month membership to PlayStation Plus costs $59.99 annually — more if you’re paying month to month.

  Comments