Smokers on a financial plan: Vaping versus smoking
Making a personal financial plan may take some tough choices on what to give up. But does it have to be my coffee and cigarettes?
Can you save a bundle and still keep your favorite vices?
Much of the media reports around vaping falsely assume that vaping and e-cigarettes is as unhealthy as smoking traditional cigarettes, despite unbiased scientific evidence to the contrary, from organizations including the American Cancer Society and the UK Department of Health. But smokers are drawn to vaping for reasons beyond the health factor, not the least of which is cost. A pack-a-day smoker spends nearly $50 a week, more or less depending on favored brand and local taxes. What could you do with $50 a week? Enjoy a nice dinner with a loved one? See a movie and get a big bucket of popcorn? Or better yet, put it in a savings account for retirement, and after 30 years at 2 percent return, you’ll have $100,000 in the bank. That’s a lot of smoke.
If you’re seeing a financial counselor to help with money issue, the first thing she will ask you is, “What can you give up?” The last thing anyone wants to give up is their coffee and cigarettes, but taking a close look at these expenses can yield big savings – often as much as a hundred dollars a week when you add it all up. The so-called “latté factor” is often discussed in the blogosphere and promoted by financial gurus – that is, if you forego your daily latté from your favorite expensive coffeehouse, you’ll have a substantial chunk of change in your pocket at the end of the year. The same holds true for smoking. But as anyone who loves their coffee and nicotine knows, giving it up isn’t easy. If you’re creating a financial path for yourself to achieve better results, the “zero tolerance” approach often backfires, and no lattés quickly gives way to some lattés, and eventually reverts back to daily lattés.
According to NerdWallet, e-cigarettes cost about $1,387 a year for a pack-a-day smoker, compared with $2,569 for standard combustible cigarettes. Reusable vapes with liquid refills make it even cheaper, bringing the cost down to about $500 to $600 and netting a savings of about $2,000 a year. While vaping may have a larger initial outlay due to the cost of the vape starter kit, long-term, the savings become substantial.
Another factor weighing in favor of vaping over smoking in terms of cost is simply the fact that, when a smoker lights up a cigarette, usually the entire cigarette is smoked in one sitting; a vaporizer allows a greater range of choice so that users to take only a few puffs of the vapor if they don’t want an entire cigarette-equivalent.
There’s no doubt that giving up cigarettes will save a bundle of money, but like those daily specialty coffee drinks, it’s not that easy. Cutting back on the expensive coffee drinks may mean making them at home instead of buying them at your favorite boutique coffeehouse, and even investing a hundred dollars in a good cappuccino machine will quickly pay off in terms of savings. Smokers looking to save a buck or two may switch to roll-your-own, but in fact, rollies carry with them the same health risk as store-bought cigarettes – and probably more, since they are usually unfiltered, which means smokers are taking in more tar. While the loose tobacco used in rollies may not contain some of the same additives as store-bought cigarettes, they have the same carcinogens as any other type of tobacco smoke, along with tar and nicotine.
When it comes to cigarettes though, the best way to cut costs is to transition from expensive and unhealthy combustible cigarettes, to vaping instead. Getting your budget in order starts with due diligence and knowing all the facts. If you’re a smoker, the facts weigh heavily in favor of a move to vaping for an alternative that is healthier for your body as well as for your wallet.