Posted by: Joe Palmer | June 4, 2010

Wisdom From Dad #4 – Cost of Smoking

Wisdom From Dad #4 – Cost of Smoking

By Joe Palmer

The cost of smoking – Dad didn’t smoke. He didn’t want us to smoke or drink either. So how do you teach a boy to avoid these vices? He used several methods. He would often time after someone left the store that had lived a rough life make a point to us. He would ask, “How old do you think that man was?” We would answer and he’d point out that he was his age. He would talk to us about the affects of a hard life, including smoking and drinking.

One little tidbit I remember him doing several times was to share the cost of smoking with a young man or young lady in his store. He might notice them with a pack in their pocket or purse and ask if they had ever calculated how much that habit would cost them? If they acted interested he’d get his calculator out and multiply out the cost of smoking in a lifetime. Then cigarettes were fifty cents a pack. Today they are about $4.00 for the generic cigarettes when bought by the carton.

So let’s do the math the way he did it then.

Legal age to smoke is 18. So assuming you are not a law-breaker and you buy your first pack at 18 and you smoke only a pack a day. Most people will average that or more over their lifetime if they are smokers. That calculates as follows:

$4.00 X 365 = $1460.00 A nifty sum. That would purchase a nice vacation or some other desired thing. But what if it was saved. Dad loved to share about saving. If you saved it in a jar for 50 years it would total $73,000 dollars. Now you are talking about some cash.

But what if you invested it. Let’s put $1460 in a CD, invested over a 50 year period at 5% interest. Remember smoking cuts years off your life so don’t expect to live to be the average age. If you smoke living to 68 is pretty good. He would here insert information about the disgusting smell, cough, and cost of health problems but I’ll skip that.

$1460 X 50 years compounded annually at 5% equals $317,312.00

Remember that is very conservative. A good mutual fund over that time period would yield more like 10%. So what if we invested that sum monthly in a mutual fund and lets put it monthly instead of waiting till the end of the year.

Depositing $122.66 per month X 50 years at 10% = $2,113,576. Remember by depositing it in a Roth IRA you can now spend it tax-free. You could retire at 68 and probably live in a healthy state for another decade or more and enjoy you life.

Now if that young man or lady would listen my dad would work out those calculations in a similar fashion all free of charge. I wonder if he ever convinced anyone to stop smoking? It was curious how many times he did this so my brother or me could hear it?

Joe Palmer



  1. More practical preaching from “the ole coon” Junior “Red” Palmer. One thing that really amazes me is how he was not around his biological father as a youth, but yet, as an adult he was always willing to take time to be a father to his own children and to freely give his persuasive fatherly advice and genuine kindness to just about anyone else that he though might benefit from his insights.

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