Bad habits can be a serious drain on your finances, especially when they impact on your health. This is an excerpt from my book Get Out of Debt Hell:
“You may be in your 20s, 30s or 40s and still feel fit and strong and thoughts of old age and infirmity may be far from your thoughts. It is possible to remain fit and strong from your 50s onwards (barring accidents and health problems) by investing in your health now. From my first-hand knowledge of friends and family who have had the misfortune to have unexpected and serious health problems, I am fully aware of the extra financial costs that ill health can incur and of the ensuing worry and anxiety. With spending cuts, it is looking increasingly likely that you will not be able to expect the state services to solve in an instant any mobility problems that you might have in later life. Any bad habits like overeating, smoking, lack of exercise, recreational drug use or excessive drinking that harm your health may not be manifesting in problems now, but they will be storing up to blindside you at some point in the future.”
I’ve been good at looking after my health except in one area – I’ve battled with smoking for many years. I rarely drink alcohol, I eat healthily, exercise daily and don’t use drugs (medicinal or recreational), but I could not ditch smoking; I even smoked through the IVA. I wasn’t deluding myself – I knew the risks that I was taking. I had my first smoke when I was 12 but I didn’t form a habit until I was 15, though I wasn’t a heavy smoker back then as it was a habit that I had to conceal from my parents and teachers.
“Just give it up!”
If you’ve never smoked, that’s probably what you would think but that’s an appeal to the rational. Bad habits are not that simple though, they always have a psychological trigger that keeps you hooked and the rational and emotional sides to our personalities are often oceans apart. In my case the triggers were frustration and boredom. A couple of people I’ve known with drink problems both had major disappointments in life that prevented them from the career path that they really wanted to follow.
There comes a time when you get really, really worried about your health
I’ve had a smoker’s cough for years, but I have been feeling my lung function getting worse every winter. Earlier this year I started to wheeze when I put my head down to go to sleep.
It’s easy to put it off when you don’t feel an immediate threat to your health but these symptoms have worried me. I just don’t know when I’ll reach the tipping point, after which I’ll have a chronic and irreversible condition. In addition to that, a friend’s partner had a heart attack last year and he is about my age. Since then, they have both quit smoking, they eat more healthily and get plenty of exercise; I was able to catch up with them recently and they look fantastic. They were the sort of people that I thought would never quit, but they did it; so I thought, if they can, so can I.
Strike whilst the iron’s hot!
I’ve been across the Channel for a while and tobacco is much cheaper than it is in Britain, so the cost incentive wasn’t so great. However I’ve been closely monitoring how much I spend on tobacco – €60 per month, that’s about £50.
That’s €720/£600 per year going up in smoke!
I’ve recently had a surge of positive news that has helped me to quit. I’ve wanted to change course from what I’m presently doing, but I’ve had various disappointments and obstacles in my way. But – recently, everything has fallen into place! Hurrah!
So, knowing that frustration was a hook to keep on smoking, I decided that this tide of positivity was the perfect time to quit – it certainly was, it was easy. I bought nicotine patches but only needed to use them for the first week. The results so far after quitting two weeks ago are:
- €30/£25 saved
- No wheezing when I go to bed
- Noticeable lung function improvement
- More energy and clearer thought processes
- Blood pressure and pulse well into the normal range
- Skin looks better
- Clothes and hair don’t smell of smoke
In addition to all that, I feel much more positive at achieving something that I knew that I needed to do for a long time. All that money that will be saved will be a great help for my plans too!
If you need help and advice on quitting a habit that’s bad for your health, your GP will be able to help. You can also find many sources of support online, the NHS has various resources listed on its website – http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Addiction/Pages/addictionhome.aspx