If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to get in shape, it’s a no-brainer to quit smoking while you’re at it. You’ll stop stinking up your breath and clothes with cigarette fumes and avoid lectures from well-meaning nonsmokers. But the decision can also save you thousands of dollars per year. Besides no longer shelling out your hard-earned money to buy smokes, you’ll avoid overpaying for items like healthcare and insurance.
Consider the many ways you’ll save when the smoke clears.
1. More Discretionary Income
Running anywhere from $5 to $14 a pack, cigarettes can take a big bite out of your budget. Add up the cost of a pack-a-day habit over time, and you might be astounded. The American Cancer Society has a handy Smoking Cost Calculator that enables you to see just how much giving up your habit can save you on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and lifetime basis. For instance, if you have a $6.45 a day habit, it costs you $45.15 per week; $196.19 per month and $2,355.86 per year. If you’ve been smoking for five years, the total to date cost is $11,822.85. Yikes!
2. Lower Healthcare Costs
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco smoke contains a deadly cocktail of more than 7,000 chemicals and chemical compounds, many of which are toxic, and about 70 cause cancers. Tobacco kills 443,000 people each year—more than HIV, car crashes, alcohol abuse, illegal drugs and suicides combined. And for every person who dies from a tobacco-related disease, 20 more people live with a costly smoking-related illness. From 2000–2004 in the U.S., smoking resulted in an estimated $193 billion in health-related costs.
Besides the fact that you can save a lot of money on healthcare costs when you stop smoking, some health insurance plans give discounts to non-smokers, and this continues with Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows for much higher premiums for smokers.
3. Reduced Life Insurance Premiums
Because of nicotine’s potentially deadly effects, life insurance companies typically charge smokers 50 percent more for life insurance than nonsmokers. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, if you stop using nicotine, after 12 to 24 months you can enjoy a substantial savings by getting the money-saving nonsmoker insurance premiums.
4. Happier, More Abundant Life
Though many smokers report fearing a reduced quality of life if they quit, a 2006 study by the University College London found the opposite to be true. A majority of the ex-smokers questioned reported feeling happier since ditching nicotine, while a very small minority said they were less happy.
When you’re content with your life, you’re less likely to overspend, and one Australian researcher even found in a study published in the journal Economic Modelling that happier people get more work done and have higher salaries. Professor Satya Paul at the University of Western Sydney studied 9,300 people between 2001 and 2005 and found that the happiest people were more productive and earned $1,767 more per year than unhappy people.
No matter how much money you stand to save by quitting smoking and how happy you might be once you stop, there’s no doubt that stopping smoking can be hard for many people. The good news is there’s plenty of help.
Walgreens and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Healthcare joined forces recently to offer Sponsorship to Quit (STQuit), a free online quit-smoking program that smokers can personalize with customized tools to create a tailored quit program. Smokefree.gov and Lung.org also offer a variety of helpful stop-smoking tools.
And if you want to see how quickly your savings are adding up once you quit, try one of the many free apps on the market like Quit it Lite for iPhone, which gives you a tally of all the money you’ve saved (and tar you’ve avoided) since quitting.
Out of all the New Year’s resolutions to stick to, one to quit smoking impacts your health and future the most. Not only are you saving money on a huge scale, but you’re also putting years back on your lifespan.
Julie Bawden-Davis is a widely published journalist specializing in personal finance and small business. She has written 10 books and more than 2,500 articles for a wide variety of national and international publications, including Parade.com, where she has a weekly column. In addition to contributing to SuperMoney, her work has appeared in publications such as American Express OPEN Forum, The Hartford and Forbes.