Smoking, Drinking & Overeating: The High Price Of Your Vice

Living in NYC, it is definitely a struggle to not give in to the many temptations offered at every smelly but exciting corner. There are incredible restaurants, the best bars, and always the desire to be around the coolest/tallest/hipsteriest people. With all of this comes the vices that we are all guilty of at some point or another, but how much is it really costing you? Here I’m going to break it down – Smoking, eating and overeating: The high price of your vice.


This is the #1 cause of preventable death in the United States. It is estimated that 1/5 of all deaths per year are attributed to smoking through lung disease, stroke, and cancers. If your immenant death doesn’t motivate you to quit smoking, maybe the high cost will:

Studies showed that smoking costs the average 24 year old woman $86,000 over a lifetime, and an average 24 year old male $183,000. With that money you could put a down payment on, or even purchase a house…pay for higher education…take some great vacations…you get the idea.

The American cancer society has a great calculator here that helps you figure out what you’re spending. The nifty chart below shows the growing cost based on $5/pack, but in NYC the price is now almost $15 with the new tax – so New Yorkers can go ahead and triple that.

A typical non-smoker’s net worth has been found to be about 50% higher than that of light smokers and about twice the level of heavy smokers. That’s because apart from just the actual cost of cigarettes themselves, you’re also looking at higher doctor bills, higher health insurance (employers are now giving penalties to smoking employees via higher premiums), as well as higher life insurance costs due to elevated blood pressure and other red flags that smoking causes.

Oh, and don’t forget the money spent on botox because smoking has left your face looking like one of those ugly wrinkly hairless cats. Not cute.


I am definitely guilty of this one. Fortunately I make up for it in the gym (after I’m done mentally tormenting myself/crying). Unfortunately, that is not the case for a lot of people – and 64% of Americans now adays are overweight.

On top of not feeling your best, not looking your best can actually cost you. Stanford University researchers found that obese men and women earn, on average, $3.41 per hour less than their slimmer peers. Over the course of a year, that means $7,093 in lost income… and you thought that not being able to button up your jeans was punishment enough. Women feel this discrimination even more – making on average 15% less! Why? In surveys, employers claimed to see them as lacking self-discipline and being less emotionally stable and competent. I know this sounds really mean, but on top of that, heavier women tend to complete fewer years of education and retire earlier, both of which contribute to less money earned over time.

Medical costs also make being overweight expensive. Males end up with medical costs that are $170 more annually than their leaner co-workers, while overweight females incur costs $495 higher. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that a 10% weight loss could reduce an overweight person’s lifetime medical costs by $2,200 to $5,300.

Another cost you may not consider? Fuel costs also will also inevitably increase since it requires more energy to drive a heavier person around all day. Obese people actually end up paying an extra $21 – $23 to fill a tank. With rising fuel costs, this is definitely motivation to not take those few extra bites of cheesecake and spend a few hours on the treadmill.


The fact that I’m not a big drinker has no doubt saved me thousands of dollars, especially since drinks can run you $15-$20 a pop at most nice spots around here. Learnvest did a great article on this, and came up with a cool chart below (these are definitely not NY prices, but you get the idea). If you’re frequently going out for happy hour, or even just having a few drinks with dinner, this can absolutely add up very quickly.

Oh and having a couple drinks and driving home is a whole other story. A typical DUI costs about $10,000 by the time you pay bail, fines, fees and insurance, even if you didn’t hit anything or hurt anybody. If you get a DUI conviction, it will likely affect your insurance rates for (at least) the next three to five years. High-risk insurance costs an additional $1,500 a year for three years, on average.

Sorry if I came across sounding like your mom, but I’m just trying to save you some money. Remember that “The greatest wealth is health.” Your good health should be as much of an investment as stock or bonds. On top of that, an unhealthy life is definitely a turn-off, no matter how much money a person has.

Get healthier/richer now:

American Cancer Society’s guide to quitting:

Stop Drinking Advice

3 tactics to prevent overeating


  1. I whish I could stop smoking. I have an electical cigarette now but it does not do the full effect completly. I smoke much much less now though! Only about 4 cigaretts now instead of 25.

  2. Great article..keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *