4 ways Australians waste colossal amounts of money

Dr Martens shop Westfield Sydney shopping

Money is hard to earn and all too easy to waste. The following are 4 wasteful things Australians are buying that do not typically result in a substantial return on the investment:

1.   Cigarettes

News.com.au has reported that Australians collectively spend about $14?billion on cigarettes every year. On average, most Australian smokers are each spending more than $100 per week on cigarettes, totaling about $5,237 per year.

The upfront cost of cigarettes, expensive as it is, is negligible as compared against the medical bills that result from a smoking habit. Smoking is linked to costly medical problems including lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, pneumonia, renal failure, eye conditions and many others. So, if you smoke, consider ditching the durries in hopes of preserving both your wealth and your health. Surely you can think of better ways to invest $5,237 this year.

2.   Lottery tickets

Some time ago, Walter Hickey at Business Insider Australia calculated the odds of winning the then-latest Powerball lottery at 1 in 175,223,516.

He concluded the following:

  • It doesn’t ever make financial sense to play Powerball for the cash-up front winnings.
  • The expected value only ever gets to the break-even point when the jackpot reaches about $531,038,600 AU ($380 million US).
  • Taxes will most likely negate any profitability you might receive from playing the lottery – so if you do decide to play, do your best to minimise them.

In short, for most Australians who play the lottery, it typically turns out to be a colossal waste of money.

3.   Genetic testing

We’ve been collectively led to believe that our genes are largely responsible for the diseases we suffer from. According to Jonathan Latham, PhD and Allison Wilson, PhD, there is now an available body of scientific research that refutes this belief in the vast majority of cases. This research, collectively known as the Genome-Wide Association studies (GWAs), reveals that scientists were largely mistaken in their previous assumptions regarding genetic variations being the explanation for most common diseases. There are some exceptions, which apparently include Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The GWAs have also revealed a few mostly uncommon diseases that do apparently have genetic causes: cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anaemia and Huntington’s disease.

Exceptions aside, this is a startling revelation — because it means that genetics play, at most, an extremely minor role in predisposing a person to the most common diseases and conditions such as heart disease and cancer that affect sizable numbers of Australians.

It also means that the money Australians are spending on genetic testing is largely wasted in cases where the test subject is hoping to understand his or her risks for contracting cancer, heart disease and other similarly common killers.

How much money, exactly, is at stake? According to a noteworthy health insurance comparison website, a typical comprehensive genetic testing cost is about $6,000 in Australia.

There is, however, one potential benefit that the test subject might find worthwhile: The comprehensive genetic test does help to predict what the subject’s likely responses would be to various popularly prescribed medications. Whether having access to that information would actually be worth $6,000 is a matter of personal opinion.

4.   Bottled water

Bottled water is a $2+ billion dollar a year industry in Australia. On average, a 600 ml bottle of water in Australia costs about $3.98. If you buy bottled water, you typically pay more than 2900 times for it than you would pay to fill up a comparably-sized bottle of tap water, which costs less than a quarter of a cent per litre.

If you routinely buy bottled water, you could save a bundle by purchasing a reusable bottle and an effective water filter. This would also have major environmental benefits, as it would help to reduce the amount of plastic rubbish being generated. But, at least bottled water does offer some hydration benefits, even if you are vastly overpaying for them.

These aren’t the only ways that Australians waste money every year; there are many others. However, these are some obvious things to consider eliminating from your life if you’re looking to save money, invest more and increase your wealth.