Do you know what your bad habits are costing you?

Whatever you want to achieve when setting financial goals for your future – buying a car or a house, having an emergency fund or retirement investment, paying off debt, going on a dream holiday – your bad habits can sabotage your plans.

Bad lifestyle habits can make you pay higher life insurance premuims and waste money that you could be putting towards more productive goals. Bad money habits eat away at your finances, making it harder to save and reach those goals. If you want to cut your frivolous spending and start saving more, breaking these habits is a good first step. But to do that, you need to identify them and commit to making better money choices.

Have you ever listed what your bad habits are costing you? When you see the total in black and white, imagine what else you could do with that money by investing it instead. It’s a strong motivation to break those habits. Here are 7 examples to consider:

1. Blind loyalty to brands

Are you addicted to luxury brands – whether it’s food and drink, clothes, cars, appliances, shoes or bags? Have you honestly found the quality, design or functionality superior to that of non-branded alternatives? You can still buy quality items that are affordable without resorting to luxury brands, if you’re prepared to shop around before you buy anything.

2. Drinking alcohol – socially or otherwise

Excessive use of alcohol can damage your health severely and cause physical addiction, and it’s often a contributing factor to serious crimes like gender-based violence, drunk driving, assault and even murder. Liquor is also expensive, even if you’re a responsible, moderate drinker.

If you spend just R50 on ‘a couple of drinks after work’, 5 times a week, it’s costing you R13,000 a year. Heavy drinkers could spend 3 times that or more. If you stop drinking completely or reduce your intake, you can devote the money you save to much healthier forms of stress relief.

3. Smoking

Smoking is another costly habit. A pack of 20 cigarettes costs around R30 to R45, depending on the brand. Even if you stick to the cheapest and limit yourself to 10 smokes a day, your habit is costing you almost R5,500 a year. If you prefer an expensive brand and smoke a pack a day, more than R16,000 a year is going up in smoke.

Those are just the financial costs – smokers’ health risks are well documented and much scarier. Quitting can save you money and help you stay healthy enough to enjoy those savings.


Putting off making financial decisions is a bad habit that can cost you a lot of money


4. Gambling

‘The house always wins’ is a gambling cliché, but it’s not wrong. Despite the promise of big wins, betting – whether on racing, sports, scratch cards, casino and card games or the lottery – can easily become a bad habit with no positive returns. What starts off as a fun, harmless diversion can turn into an unhealthy obsession with serious consequences for you and your loved ones.

Gambling addiction can cause huge debts, stress that damages your work and home life, and even desperate measures like fraud or theft to pay off the debt. If your gambling is causing you money problems, seek professional help to quit.

5. Not sticking to a budget

Bad money habits can harm your financial health as much as bad lifestyle habits. If you don’t draw up a budget to see where your money goes every month, you can’t pinpoint unnecessary expenses and cut costs where needed. Nedbank’s MoneyTracker, available on the Nedbank Money app and Online Banking, can help you create a budget, track your spending and stick to spending limits.

Budgeting carefully is the secret to several healthy money habits, like paying your fixed expenses on time, making deposits into your investments before spending on anything else, saving on interest by not using your overdraft unnecessarily, and checking that your debt levels are not becoming unmanageable. Not sticking to a budget can lead to poor choices in all these areas, so break the habit.

6. Withdrawing money on your credit card

Withdrawing money from a credit card account at an ATM can come with a transaction fee, which may be especially steep if you use another bank’s ATM. In addition, cash withdrawals do not qualify for the usual 55-day interest-free period on credit card purchases, so on top of the ATM fee you’ll also be charged interest from the moment you withdraw cash. You don’t earn Greenbacks on credit card cash withdrawals either.

Even when you’re withdrawing cash with your debit card, it’s cheaper to draw cash at the tillpoint of a participating retailer than an ATM. Save more on bank charges by checking your bank statements on the Money app instead of paying an additional fee for a printed statement at the branch.

7. Postponing saving for long-term goals

If you’re still young, with more than 40 years to go before you even consider retiring, you may think putting off planning for retirement isn’t going to make much difference. Think again. The reality of compound interest operating on long-term investments is that the longer your money is invested, the more it grows and the faster its growth speeds up over time.

In other words, if you start saving in a retirement portfolio at the age of 35, the amount that has accumulated by the time you reach 65 could be millions of rands less than it would’ve been if you’d started saving at 25. The same is true for any long-term investment you’re making towards any other goal – putting off making financial decisions is a bad habit that can cost you a lot of money in the long run.

You can explore Nedbank’s saving and investment options digitally via the Money app or Online Banking.