Tag Archives: money

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

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!

How to Divorce Your Job and Keep the House – #2

There are a multitude of different types of side hustles, side gigs, extra revenue streams or whatever you want to call it. As promised, here’s a list of eight: Continue reading How to Divorce Your Job and Keep the House – #2

Budgeting for Vacation? Don’t Overlook These Expenses | ShermansTravel.com

The next time you plan for a trip, be sure to take these expenses into account.

Source: Budgeting for Vacation? Don’t Overlook These Expenses | ShermansTravel.com

Money Mistakes to Avoid – 3

The last two posts in this series have been primarily about saving early and wisely. But what if you didn’t do that in your past and now have a lot of debt? What should I do first, save or pay off debt?

It’s a question commonly asked by clients and friends facing this dilemma. If you have enough income our first suggestion is to do both. Develop a plan of systematic debt payments and saving contributions that you can manage within your budget. But many people who pose this question feel that they are not in a position to do both simultaneously. In this case, saving money instead of paying off high-interest debt would be a huge mistake.

True if your only savings is your emergency reserve, paying off your debt first can be risky. But it’s a risk you have to take if you ever want to be debt-free. Here’s why. Once again it comes down to the math.

Notice we referenced HIGH-INTEREST debt. If you put money into a typical savings account (with the “high yield” ones currently offering about 1%) instead of making larger payments on a debt that has an interest rate of 30%, you’re still paying 29% and not doing anything to shorten the length of time you’re paying that debt off. Unless you pay the debt off quickly it doubles in about 2 and 1/2 years according to the Rule of 72. By saving instead of paying off the debt quickly you would be trading freedom from debt for a sense of security that depending on other financial circumstances may not be genuine.

So how do you take this risk of paying debt off first responsibly?

One option is begin by focusing on paying off the smallest debt first. Pay more than the minimum on that debt while maintaining minimum payments on the others. Once the first debt is eliminated, you can either roll that payment amount on to the next smallest debt or split the payment amount between your savings and the next lowest balance. Repeat this process until all your debts are gone. An alternative strategy is paying off the debt with the highest interest rate first thus saving yourself added interest payments.

Other options to consider when eliminating debt is consolidation to zero or low-interest rate credit lines or debt relief programs. At the end of it all there is no one size fits all approach to the question of whether to save or pay off debt first. If you are unable to decide which method would work best in your situation, consult with your banker or other financial professional for a personalized plan.