As I typed away on my first blog posts in January, my (now-former) roommates sat out in the living room playing hours of video games. They had three game systems and about 40 games in our apartment, so they never seemed to get bored of their options. As I watched them sit and play night after night, I couldn’t help but think of the amount of money and time that is wasted by stuff like video games. These types of things not only suck up time, but you have to spend money to do them at the same time.
Video games are expensive, with systems costing up to $400, single games up to $60, and other add-ons that can take costs into the thousands. Video games can also be incredibly addictive, with some World of Warcraft players ending up in rehab for gamers (yes, that exists now). It’s very easy to lose track on time while playing, too. I bought a Playstation 3 a few years ago. While I enjoyed it, I soon realized how much time I spent playing it. I ended up selling it after owning it for less than a year.
While this isn’t meant to be an all-out assault on video games or other things we do for pleasure, I think most would agree that video games are money and time wasters. Here are some other things we buy (and do) that cost a lot of money and time.
Online shopping is often easier and cheaper than going to the store, but there are still downsides. In my experience, online shopping leads to more impulse buying. On a whim, I can simply jump on to Amazon.com and make a purchase any time of day.
From the time side of online shopping, I’ll get caught up in trying to find the best deals. I could browse shoes at Zappos for hours. Once I find a shoe I like, I check other online shoe websites to compare prices and see if I can get a better deal. I then search Google for coupon codes to use on the websites. A lot of times I won’t even end up buying anything after getting frustrated because it’s taking so long to find the perfect purchasing opportunity.
Going out to bars
Don’t get me wrong: I love going out for a drink with friends as much as anyone. But I have an issue when it becomes too frequent. I don’t think anyone will argue that drinks are 2-5 times more expensive at a bar than when enjoyed at home. Cover charges and tipping add on to the cost, too. Besides the money, going out for drinks always takes more time than I originally plan for. I get talked into staying longer. I drink more than I originally wanted to. I stay up later at night. I don’t feel like working after having a few drinks. Yes, it’s fun, but ultimately it costs me time towards working on other things that I want to do.
Commuting isn’t the same as purchasing an item, but it can still be really expensive. Driving to and from work has always been my least favorite part of the work day, and I’ve decided that I never want to spend two hours of my day in a car. Driving 25 miles each way to a job can cost $150 a month on fuel alone. Besides the gas, there’s really no safe way to be productive while driving a car. It’s basically a time sink and an easy way to lose 7-10 hours of free time a week.
Closely related to video games, television attracts even more people. Cable is ridiculously expensive. The average customer pays $75 a month, with some people paying over $100. If you invested instead of paying for cable, you’d have a huge pot of money (and probably a much smaller gut) at age 65. Combine the price with the average American who watches almost 3 hours of television per day, and television takes the prize as the most damaging double-waster of all.
I understand that no one is productive 100% of the time, and we all need downtime for rest. I think all of these activities are perfectly fine in moderation. It’s when they’re taken to an extreme that they really get expensive and stand in the way of goals, too.
Do you have any time and money wasters to add to this list?
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photo by: Rebecca Pollard