How much are soft addictions costing you?


When Tracy Coenen told us how to waste $175,000 in 10 years, she didn't mention splurging on a new car to help you through your mid-life crisis, or throwing your life savings down at the roulette table. We tend to waste money a few dollars at a time, on lots of little extras throughout our lives -- and we all do it.

Judith Wright, author of The Soft Addiction Solution, calls these little extras our soft addictions. They're not taboo like drugs and alcohol, but they are addictions nonetheless, and perhaps we're wrong to view soft addictions as harmless -- after all, look how much time, energy, and money they're costing us.

Even things that don't cost money directly, like watching too much television, or endlessly surfing the internet (guilty!), rob us of energy, productivity, and keep us, Wright argues, from the things we really want out of life. Soft addictions can be bad habits that usually involve lots of time wasting, compulsive activities like overeating, shopping, even overworking, or substance addictions like caffeine. Wright says that many people spend up to and over $15,000 a year on their soft addictions, but no one she's encountered spends less than $3,000 annually on soft addictions.

Because there's little if any societal pressure to kick these addictions, most people never even consider the damage their habits may be doing. Think about some of your habits. Is your life better because of them? Worse? Could it be a soft addiction? Take the quiz here.