Category Archives: Health and Fitness

The FULL COST of Smoking Cigarettes

This is how smoking is usually pictured when the cigarette companies used to freely play mind games to convince you to smoke.

Nowadays, not many would argue the fact that smoking is bad for you. It’s linked to lung cancer and heart disease, and is associated with nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the United States.¹ Yet so many people, even some I know personally still smoke despite the health consequences.  Besides ruining your physical health, smoking can also seriously ruin your financial health.

The upfront cost of smoking
Cigarettes aren’t cheap. Prices per pack vary from $5.25 in Missouri to $12.85 in New York, but the national average comes out to around $6.28.²’³ Smoking a pack per day will run you $44 per week, $188 per month, and $2,292 per year. Over 20 years you’ll have spent $91,671 on cigarettes. You’ve literally burned almost 6 figures!

If you got it like Granny, then ‘burn baby burn’, I guess.

Health care costs of smoking
Besides the up front cost, there are more subtle costs associated with what I’ve heard some say is their way to relieve stress. Extra doctor visits, prescriptions, hospital bills, and other treatments all cost money, and smoking increases your chances of needing those at some point in your future. In total, smoking-related illness costs the United States over $300 billion per year.⁴ Smokers also have to face higher insurance costs because of the health risks presented by their habit. All told, smoking one pack per day costs around $15,000 a year, or $40 per pack.⁵ Having $15,000 go up in smoke sounds pretty stressful to me.

The opportunity cost of smoking
Opportunity cost is a concept covered in economics and business courses. So unless you’ve taken both at the K-12 and collegiate level like I have you might be drawing a blank here. In a nutshell, it’s FOMO realized. In other words, (for my non Gen Z & Millennial readers) what are you missing out on because you decided to spend resources on a different option.

In our smoking scenario it means what could you have done with that $15,000? Did you want to start building a business but found yourself short on start-up funds? Maybe that could be the foundation of your child’s college fund or inheritance. Or is it that vacation you desperately want to take (of course while still keeping your physical distance; not trying to sort out catch dat ‘rona). Is your habit costing you the potential to live on your terms and start building your future?

Anyone who may be reading this and is struggling to quit smoking, I understand that it’s hard but keep trying. I want to see you reach your full potential and stop missing out one life-changing opportunities. Check out these resources from the CDC. And share your story in the comments.

(1) https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/index.htm

(2) https://worldpopulationreview.com/states/cigarette-prices-by-state/

(3) https://smokefree.gov/quit-smoking/why-you-should-quit/how-much-will-you-save

(4) https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/economics/econ_facts/index.htm#:~:text=Smoking%2Drelated%20illness%20in%20the,%24300%20billion%20each%20year%2C%20including%3A&text=Nearly%20%24170%20billion%20for%20direct,due%20to%20secondhand%20smoke%20exposure

(5) https://www.washington.edu/admin/hr/benefits/events/flyers/tobacco-free/hidden-cost-of-smoking.pdf

Putting it all together

So if you’ve checked out this blog in the past few months, you may have come across the New Beginnings post. Unfortunately that effort has been DELAYED, not cancelled due to some timing and technical issues recording and editing the videos. So we’re going to move forward with more posts starting this week.

But if you’re a long-time follower, you undoubtedly remember our Divorce Your Job & Keep the House series from back in 2015. Well we’re happy to report that the series of blog posts (that was never completed, we know and we’re sorry 😞) will now be released as an online course. Now I, Ms. ME, know what you’re thinking:

  • I don’t have the time for a long drawn out course ⌚
  • I don’t have the money 💰
  • I’m afraid of failing, lack of support 😨
  • I have an idea of what I want to do but don’t know where to start 😵

SHUT ALL OF THAT NEGATIVITY DOWN NOW!!! And flip it…

  • You don’t have any more time to waste doing something that doesn’t speak to your dreams and passions. 🏁
    And I promise this course will not be long. In fact the intro is only about 30 minutes .
  • You have the money for my FREE masterclass. What’s more every attendee will walk away with a my FREE side-gig starter pack.
  • You will conquer FEAR (false expectations appearing real) and step into the life you were meant to live. I will support you.
  • That’s GREAT that you have an idea!!! I’ve done it before, I’ve taught others and I’m ready to show you where to start.

So what’s next? 🤷🏾‍♀️🤷🏾‍♂️

Register now for the FREE master class happening Sunday, July 19th at 4 PM EST.

Will your idea be the next big thing founded in a time of crisis, like so many of the big, well-known companies of today? Only if you have a plan! Can’t wait to help you make yours.😊

Until then, why not go back and check out those past blog posts…

Morning Habits You Can Start Tomorrow

Most of our mornings aren’t very fun. We roll out of bed, maybe hit snooze a few times, and then crawl into work feeling groggy at best.

Or lately, crawl to our established or makeshift home offices if you’re not an essential worker. But it doesn’t have to be like this. The morning hours can be times of relaxation, focus, and self-improvement. Here are a few practical habits that can take your mornings from pointless to productive!

Go to bed early
I know, none of us want to hear this one. Too reminiscent of enforced childhood bedtimes. Who hasn’t stayed up too late watching just one more episode of your favorite show on Netflix, Hulu or Disney+? Don’t expect to wake up feeling motivated.

A productive morning starts the night before. Try to stay away from screens before going to bed (at least one hour) and make sure you turn in at a reasonable time. You may also want to dial back when you wake up. Having a quiet hour or two before everyone else wakes up is a great way of freeing up time to invest in things you care about. Just remember that your new sleep schedule will take some time to adjust to!

Exercise first thing
One of the best habits to fill your new-found morning hours is exercise. It’s a great way to get your blood flowing and boost your energy. Plus, the feeling that you’ve accomplished something can help carry you through the day and boost your confidence.

Check out some of our past exercise posts!

Prioritize your tasks
But let’s say you’ve started getting up an hour and a half earlier and you work out for 30 minutes. How are you going to spend the next hour before you start getting ready for work? One great habit is to start planning out your day and prioritizing your tasks. Write down what specifically you want to accomplish and when. You might be amazed by how empowering it is to make a plan and to see your goals on a piece of paper. Start off with your biggest task. The morning is when you’re at your peak brain power, so commit your best efforts to the hardest work. The feeling of accomplishment from knocking out the task will carry you through the smaller things!

Mornings don’t have to be rough. Incorporating these tips and habits into your daily routine can help make the first hours of the day a time you look forward to. Start inching your alarm closer towards sunrise and use that extra time to absolutely crush your day!

Start that side hustle like a pro!

If you’ve visited this blog before, you’ve heard us talk about your “hustle” or “side gig.”

There even was a series of posts about transitioning your side-gig into your main gig. It’s in style; and it makes sense—and cents? Gigs are now just a click or tap away on most of our devices, and a little extra money never hurts!

But what we haven’t done is given you specific tips on successfully starting that side-gig. We’ve talked about what you could do, but not so much about how to do whatever you decide to do. Here are a few things to consider when starting up a side hustle.

Checklist Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures

What are your side hustle goals? We typically think of a side hustle as being an easy way to score a little extra cash. But they can sometimes be gateways into bigger things. Do you have skills that you’d like to develop into a full time career? A passion that you can turn into a business? Or do you just need some serious additional income to pay down debt? These considerations can help you determine how much time and money you invest into your gig and what gigs to pursue.

What are your marketable skills? Some gigs don’t require many skills beyond a serviceable car and a driver’s license. But others can be great outlets for your hobbies and skills. Love writing? Start freelancing on your weekends. Got massive gains from hours at the gym and love the outdoors? Start doing moving jobs in your spare time. You might be surprised by the demand for your passions!

Keep it reasonable Burnout is no joke. Some people thrive on 80 hour work weeks between jobs and side hustles, but don’t feel pressured to bite off more than you can chew. Consider how much you’re willing to commit to your gigs and don’t exceed that limit.

One great thing about side hustles is their flexibility. You choose your level of commitment, you find the work, and your success can depend on how much you put in. Consider your goals and inventory your skills to get there—and start hustling!

Save a Buck on National Dollar Day

Have you ever heard of National Dollar Day? This little known day commemorates the August 2nd in 1786 that Congress established the U.S. monetary system.

I was going to bore you with more facts about dollars and money. But instead I’ll leave that to the Federal Reserve and jump to the useful tips on how to save a buck on this National Dollar Day. Please note I am not being compensated to mention any of the companies or programs listed below; these are personal recommendations from one consumer.

Tips to save a dollar

  1. Couponing

    Not talking about the old school sit and cut coupons from the Sunday paper, although those are still useful if you have the patience. Digital coupons and saving apps are the quicker and easier way to save a buck. Most grocery stores will allow you to load the coupons directly to your store card. Very often there is little wait time for the coupons to load as I’ve loaded coupons at a wholesale club while walking through the store shopping.

    Saving apps and rebate websites are the next easiest way to save a dollar when shopping. My personal favorites are Ibotta, SavingStar and Checkout 51. Be careful to read the details on each offer carefully and match the product exactly. Fortunately some of the apps, like Ibotta, have a built in feature that allows you to scan a product’s bar-code while in the store to confirm it matches the deal. Even with my sporadic usage I’ve still managed to save over $120.

  2. Buy generic

    Unjustified brand loyalty is a waste of money when it comes to shopping for food and other household items. I came to that realization years ago when I started trying some of the store brands and generics at my local grocery stores. At times there was a clear preference for a brand name due to a difference in taste, but more often than not the two were extremely comparable in every way except for price, where the store brands consistently won.

    The rare exception to this is when using saving method #1 makes a brand name less expensive than the generic. Here’s where I have to mention Ibotta again because they have these great any brand rebates that you can use on store brands to save even more bucks.

  3. Libraries

    In July I encountered a Twitter-storm surrounding a foolish suggestion for the closure & replacement of libraries by a corporation. Needless to say that idea, didn’t fly with all of the savvy savers out there who know the best place to pick up a book for free still is the public library.

    Besides saving when it comes to buying hard copies of books, some libraries like my local one also allow you to borrow digital copies for your e-reader, saving yet more money. It’s also a great place to get DVDs and CDs (which we all know methods of digitizing, right?), although perhaps not the newest and latest ones.

  4. Kill the vampires

    The energy vampires that is. Not everyone can afford to immediately upgrade everything in their house to a more energy efficient model. However, you can stop things like phone chargers, computers, printers, TVs, sound systems and other random appliances not used 24-7 but plugged in all the time from increasing your electricity bill.

    The easiest way is to shut them off and unplug them when done using them. But realistically when it comes to our daily electronics (PCs, TVs) we’re not unplugging these, so the best bet becomes to put them on a power strip that you can flick the switch off when you’re done. Other tips to stop the energy vampires can be found at the U.S. Department of Energy’s website.

  5. BYOL

    This is the best tip but probably the hardest (at least for me) to execute: brin your own lunch. Here in the U.S., food establishments are practically everywhere. And if they aren’t close by yet, just give it a few months. Choosing to brown bag it over fast food or casual dining can save you hundreds each month. The trick I’ve found works best is planning ahead and duplicating my favorite meals from the closest casual dining restaurants near my work and office locations.

  6. Consignment

    Growing up what came to mind when I thought of a consignment store was the cluttered stores in the back of a shopping center where it became a tedious chore to find anything of value. Thankfully most consignment stores have changed. Also in all fairness, it may not be appropriate to refer to these stores as consignment at all, since they generally buy clothes on the spot as opposed to the old school method of splitting the money once the clothing is sold.

    My recent favorite is the franchise Clothes Mentor, which offers a personal shopper option. Online options like Thredup and Poshmark offer similar curation services, but to me, nothing beats being able to try something on first. Yes there are free exchanges and shipping, but who has time for that? Not me. Saving time is just as important as saving dollars.

Check out three other ways to save on my all finance blog.

What way(s) to save a dollar have you discovered? Share in the comments!