Smoking is hardly the only bad habit that makes a significant impact on our lives. While smokers seem to be few and far between now a days, we have a new bad habit. Fast food can have a similar financial impact and thanks to our fast paced and unorganized lives can be just as hard to give up. This made me want to run a few figures:
BAD HABIT: SMOKING
In New York:
If you smoke 1 pack per day: $11.90 x 7 = $83.30 per week. $83.30 x 52 weeks = $4,357.60 would be saved in one year if you could stop smoking.
If you smoke 1/2 pack per day: $11.90 x 3.5 = $41.65 per week. $41.65 x 52 weeks = $2,165.80 would be saved in one year if you could stop smoking.
If you smoke 1 pack per day: $5.55 x 7 = $38.85 per week. $38.85 x 52 weeks = $2,020.20 would be saved in one year if you could stop smoking.
If you smoke 1/2 pack per day: $5.55 x 3.5 = $19.42 per week. $19.42 x 52 weeks = $1,010.10 would be saved in one year if you could stop smoking.
Let's say that you spend the next 15 years of your life smoking (most likely, if you smoke now, you've already spent 15 years smoking). If you live in New York and smoke a pack per day, you will have wasted $65,364.00 to this habit.
**As a side note, I believe the health tax on cigarettes in New York is a horrible idea. The number one reason that people can't quit smoking is stress. By impacting a smokers life in such a dramatic way, you have burdened that smoker with significant financial stress and the guilt that goes along with it. The tax makes it harder for them to quit. **
BAD HABIT: MCDONALDS
A Large Big Mac Value Meal with a Dr. Pepper purchased in Woodbridge, Virginia will cost you $6.81. If you routinely eat this meal (or a similar one) three times a week, you will have spent $20.43 in a week. Multiply that by the 52 weeks in a year, and your fast food is costing you $1,062.36 per year. If you and your partner are both doing this, this figure will double to $2,124.72 per year.
You might argue that McDonald's is actually cheap. After all, you would have to eat something right? What if you packed a lunch bag with a roasted turkey breast and muenster cheese sandwich and a side of potato chips on every day that you would be busy enough to be tempted into the herd line at McDonalds?
You would need to purchase the following:
A loaf of bread every 2 weeks - $.79 (current price at Wegmans) for a total yearly cost of $20.54
Shaved Turkey Club Pack every two weeks - $8.99 (current price at Wegmans) for a total yearly cost of $233.74
Muenster Cheese every 2 weeks - $2.49 (current price at Wegmans) for a total yearly cost of $64.74
Mayonnaise every 3 months - $2.49 (current price at Wegmans) for a total yearly cost of $9.96
Potato Chips every 3 weeks - $2.00 (current price at Wegmans) for a total yearly cost of $34.66
For one person, the above would cost you $399.52 per year. For you and your partner, it would cost you $799.04 per year.
By switching out the Mcdonalds trip with the "Busy Night Lunch Bag", a single person would save $662.84 per year and a couple would save $1,325.68 per year.
If that wasn't enough to convince you, then let me tell you that the money wouldn't be the most significant things that you saved. In a year, you will have saved 124,800 calories. While weight loss/gain has many variables (metabolism, height, weight, and physical activity), on average this could save you from gaining 35 pounds in a year!
I'm not telling you to stop smoking and eating fast food so that you can sock your money away in an investment fund and retire rich (although, that really would be the best bet - so if I could convince you of that, then let's pretend I did tell you that). I want you to live the most amazing life possible while your here. I want you to tour the Amazon, and safari in Africa. I want you to take your little rugrats to Disney World, and bring your parents to visit their homeland. I want you to have an 83 inch TV with surround sound in your living room, and a sailboat. I want you to learn how to fly a plane, and then buy a plane. Whatever your passions are in life, I want you to have those things. I want you to stay focused on the things that you want, and eliminate spending money on the things that don't matter to you. Because I can't envision being on my death bed and saying "You know what the best part of life was? All those Big Macs.. They were amazing."