I’m not a smoker. I was given a fantastic lesson at a very early age. When I wanted to smoke and be like the grown-ups, I was told I could. The catch was that I couldn’t just try one – I had to smoke an entire pack. I was more than happy and agreed. After the first puff, I had no intention of smoking anymore, but was told that I had agreed to smoke the entire pack. I continued until I was too ill to take another puff and have never had the desire to smoke since then. That lesson kept me from every getting addicted to cigarettes and as a result, save me a huge amount of money.
Today is the 29th Great American Smokeout sponsored by the American Cancer Society to try and get people to stop smoking. While there are any number of reasons to try and stop including – most importantly – your health, giving a huge boost to your personal finances is also one that shouldn’t be discounted.
Most of the time when people talk about the cost of smoking, they simply do a straight calculation. A pack a day at $4 comes to nearly $1,500 a year. Most of the time it stops there even though in reality it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some other ways that smoking will cost you beyond the $4 a pack:
Life Insurance: Smokers die younger and therefore pay a lot more for life insurance than non smokers – sometime more than double the premium of nonsmokers which can mean thousands of dollars a year.
Health Insurance: Smokers have more medical problems than non smokers and therefore pay a lot more for their medical insurance than nonsmokers – again, sometimes thousands of dollars more a year in premiums.
Health Care: Just because smokers pay more for their health insurance doesn’t mean their policies cover more. More medical problems mean more frequent visits to the doctor which means more money comes out of their pockets than nonsmokers.
Medications: Since smokers have more medical problems, they often are required to take more prescription medicine than non smokers. These extra medications mean a smoker is out more money than a non smoker.
Home Owner’s Insurance: People who smoke have fire in their houses more often than people that don’t smoke. This means higher home owner’s insurance premiums than non smokers.
Value of the House: The aftermath of smoking smells bad and leaves a deep smell in your house. If you want to sell your house, that smell will mean you receive thousands (and possible tens of thousands) less than if the house didn’t smell of smoke. In addition, smoke yellows and dims walls making the house display much less attractively than if nobody had been smoking. The alternative is replacing and repainting which again is thousands of dollars out of your pocket.
Value of Your Stuff: Part of your net worth is the value of all the things you own. Smoking reduces the resale value of all your stuff meaning it also reduces your net worth in this area compared to a non smoker.
Car Insurance: Smokers get into more accidents than non smokers and therefore their car insurance rates are higher than non smokers – usually hundreds of dollars a year more.
Car Resale Value: Just like you house and the stuff in it, smoking in your car will greatly reduce its resale value. This could mean hundreds or thousands depending on the type of car.
Earn Less Money: A number of studies find that smokers earn between 4% to 11% less money than their non smoking counterparts.
Less Social Security / Pension Benefits: Because smokers earn less than non smokers, this means that when they retire, they receive less in social security and pension benefits than non smokers.
Not Get A Job: Being a smoker can mean that you don’t get a job that you’re perfectly qualified for – the The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) National Workrights Institute estimates that there are more than 6,000 companies which refuse to hire smokers.
Get Fired From A Job: There have been instances where companies have gone to non smoking worker policies and those who have refused to submit to random tests have been fired.
Cost of Clothes: Smokers have to pay more to keep their clothes clean and smoking also wears out clothes faster meaning that they must purchase clothing more often than non smokers.
Dental Care: Smokers have more dental problems than non smokers which leads to more money spend on dental care including special toothpastes to keep teeth from yellowing and breath fresheners to hide the smell of cigarettes.
Lost Interest : all these extra costs means that the money isn’t saved or earning interest which can add up to thousands of dollars over the years.
While I know that pointing out the additional areas where smoking drains your bank account won’t in itself get you to quite, maybe it will in combination of thinking of your health and the loved ones around you that want you to quit help motivate you to give it another shot. Simply stopping may be the difference between having a nice nest egg in retirement and continued living paycheck to paycheck.