Start Smoking.  Save Money.

An epiphany can’t be planned.  When you least expect it, something hits you and in some way changes you – spiritually, emotionally – and why not?, even practically.  I had one a few years ago, in of all places a gas station, while I was patiently waiting for my tank to fill.  I reached over to pat my dog Annie, and happened to glance up at a large advertisement pasted on the gas station window. Cigarettes.  $8.75 a pack.  Apparently this was some sort of ‘deal’.  I almost fell out of my car.  Being an ardent non-smoker,  I truly was not aware that a pack of ‘smokes’ had climbed so high.  Unbelievable.

I used to know how much cigarettes cost.  There was a time when I actually smoked occasionally.  It started years ago when I was living in Japan and was constantly surrounded by cigarette smoke -  in planes and taxis, waiting on train platforms, walking down crowded streets and of course, in any of the many bars, restaurants and karaoke joints.  I taught English at a well known language school where most of the teachers smoked and usually all at the same time.  Each hour we taught one on one for 50 intense minutes waiting for the bell announcing the end of the high pressured drills.  As soon as that bell rang,  all the teachers left their small classrooms and quickly headed to the equally small teachers lounge for the highly anticipated 10 minute break.  Almost everyone lit up and if you didn’t, you were smoking anyway.  Ten people greedily sucked away until another bell  sounded and everyone scurried back to nervously awaiting students.

At some point I decided it was impossible to fight so I simply joined in.  When I left Japan,  I became one of those annoying non-addicted smokers, the take it or leave it type.  I would smoke a cigarette a day for a week and then go 3 weeks without even thinking about one.  When I came to my senses and decided that I could not go around hating cigarette smoke while dragging away on the side, I jumped off the fence and landed on the side of reason.  Since that day, I confess,  I have been known to relentlessly nag my misguided friends who still have not seen the light.

Back to the gas station.  What struck me as so unbelievable on this cheery summer day, was that given the prices clearly printed in large hard to miss letters, a pack-a-day smoker was actually spending over 60 after tax dollars a week on the nasty little habit.  In my world, $60 is nothing to sneer at. To add to the initial shock,  I began to realize that most people I spotted smoking on the street, appeared to be pretty ordinary. They certainly did not look like they made any more money than I did.

Here comes the epiphany part.  I decided right then and there – if they can afford to smoke, then so can I.  The next day I went to my bank, opened a savings account and called it my Tobacco Fund.  I began saving up to smoke.

I decided I would not be a full blown ‘pack-a-day’ smoker.  Fifty dollars a week would be enough to keep my habit going.  Since that day, I have deposited $50 in my Tobacco Fund every week without fail.  It doesn’t matter how tight my budget is, I am irrevocably committed to my habit.

The best part is, even though I am saving up to smoke, I have absolutely no intention of ever again smoking.  All the money I save by not smoking, goes to whatever I want as long as it’s not rent, food or anything else considered essential.   My Tobacco Fund is in essence, my ‘mad’ money which when you think about it, is ironic since with all the knowledge about the ills of tobacco, one would have to be ‘mad’ to smoke.  Since opening the Fund four years ago, I have taken trips to London, Mexico and Cuba, bought a flat screen TV, and added to my wardrobe.  The Fund also pays for the upkeep of 4 rescued elephants in Africa, two donkeys in France and a manatee in Florida.  I plan to ‘adopt’ a parrot this year.  My Fund can be used for whatever my heart desires, as long as it’s not smoking.

In this world of financial advisors and a multitude of money saving schemes,  I highly recommend the consideration of a Tobacco Fund.  Or call it an Addiction Account and save for any number of addictions (no need for a list unless you’ve been living under a rock).  Not only will financial benefits be reaped, the gloat factor alone is a very strong incentive.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  Every week, I look forward to making that deposit.  It’s like having a secret; pulling one over on the smokers of the world, not to mention our tobacco-tax addicted government.  When I see one of my fellow citizens puffing away and realize how much money is being burned, I simply smile.

Be Sociable, Share!