Whenever you consume something, it has some cost.
In the immediate sense, you have to pay for what you just consumed. You bought the beverage, you bought the food, and so on. In the long term sense, you also pay for any negative health issues brought on by what you consumed.
In both of these respects, drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes are financial losers.
For starters, neither one provides anything that you actually need to live. Alcohol actually has a dehydrating effect, which requires you to drink more of other substances to prevent dehydration.
For another, both are quite expensive in the short term. Even cheap beer approaches a dollar per drink. Harder beverages often exceed $10 per bottle. Cigarettes can rarely be found below $4 a pack at this point. If you consume any of these with any regularity, the total cost will become punishing.
The expenses don’t stop there, either.
The time is right for a confession here.
My maternal grandfather died in his forties of cirrhosis of the liver brought on by alcoholism. My uncle Kenny, who I was extremely close to, also died in his forties of cirrhosis of the liver. I have another uncle who also has liver cirrhosis and is in pretty poor physical shape.
As for smoking, my maternal grandmother suffered with emphysema due to smoking during the final years of her life and I have two other family members who appear to be heading down a similar road.
Smoking and drinking to excess have painful short term costs, but it is the long term costs that can be really shocking. I’ve witnessed dehabilitating illnesses and premature death due to drinking and smoking in the people that I love, and there’s no amount of money that’s worth that.
There are secondary expenses involved as well. I’ll be honest – when I catch a strong smell of cigarette smoke from someone, I want to go in the opposite direction, not out of dislike for the person, but because of the natural human tendency to avoid unliked smells. I’m not alone in feeling this way. This response can have a subtle but ongoing negative impact on your interpersonal relationships with non-smokers, which can have significant career and personal impact.
The best solution for these situations is to not smoke at all. As for drinking, the best route is to either completely eliminate it or strictly minimize it, as there are some studies indicating overall health benefits from drinking small amounts of wine.
The path to kicking a habit can be a challenging one, but it’s a rewarding one. Much of it has to do with personal willpower, and if you have the willpower to kick an addictive habit, you have the willpower to accomplish quite a lot in your life. Not only that, without the expense of cigarettes and alcohol in your life, you’ll have the financial resources you need to achieve whatever it is you dream of.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.