Although "soft" addictions have been kind of a hot topic recently in terms of their financial affect on a person's life, apparently "real", hard addicitions are still the most costly to individuals and society. I wrote a while back on shopaholics, and how that kind of compulsive behavior leads to credit card disaster and often bankruptcy. However, even though that kind of "disease" is problematic, money-wise, it still doesn't live up to the financial (not to mention emotional / physical) damage of harder obsessions.
I think that this is even especially relevant to our age group and generation. In college, and in your early twenties, you're exposed to a lot of temptation, and the ability to party pretty hardly is right there in your face. We've all seen the headlines about this or that 18 - 22 year old starlet heading off to rehab for the umpteenth time, no? Unfortunately for most in this age group though, we don't have million dollar movie studio contracts to help fund these kinds of addictions and rehabilitation programs (I think I read somewhere that Britney Spear's stay at rehab cost somewhere in the $40K range for 30 days of treatment).
Money Central posted an article on this recently, comparing these hard and soft addictions and how they affect people in terms of their cost damage. Hard addictions not only cost the affected individual, but they also account for $590 billion of annual tax payer dollars (in lost productivity and government assisted rehab programs). So what are the 5 most costly addictions? Alcohol, smoking, gambling, drugs, and over-eating.
I guess the point of this is to show that at this point in our lives not only do we need to be extra-vigilant about saving and spending moderately, we also need to be aware of how our lifestyles might affect both OUR finances, and society at large, down the road. I'm not saying that this is not the time in your life to have fun - do so by all means. You've got little responsibility to others if you're 21, single, living in an apartment and bringing home a paycheck for the first time. But, depending on who you are, you might need to take extra steps to avoid the more serious temptations that drugs and alcohol present...
To find more money saving and budgeting ideas visit Young and Broke.