Giving your budget some breathing room Calculating the financial cost of daily addictions

The effects of addictions are not isolated. Whether it is an addiction to cigarettes, coffee, or alcohol, the financial impact alone can be detrimental.

According to an MNP Debt survey, “fifty-eight percent of Albertans say they are now living within $200 a month of being unable to pay their bills and debt payments each month.”

So, while many Albertans are struggling financially, cutting extras like alcohol, cigarettes, and store-bought coffee would free up way more cash. Let’s take a look at some examples to see exactly how much money.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2015 Alberta’s beer sales increased by 4.6 per cent, with the yearly per capita spending on alcohol in Alberta sitting at $605. Decent tickets to see an Edmonton Oilers game are around $136 per seat. You can treat four friends to tickets to an Oilers game (and have change left over) with what you would save from giving up drinking for one year.

In Alberta, the cost of a carton of cigarettes is currently $98.19, or $10 per pack. For a pack of 20 cigarettes, that is 50 cents per cigarette. If you are a pack-a-day smoker, that’s a total of $300 per month or $3,600 per year. Return flights from Edmonton to San Francisco, according to the West Jet website, are $492.78 per person. If you quit smoking a pack a day for four months, you have saved more than enough to take a date to see the Golden Gate Bridge.

Starbucks has catapulted its way into our lives with its convenient locations, consistent products, recognizable logo, and sugary lattes. Prices range from $1.85 for a tall, brewed coffee to $4.95 for a venti skinny peppermint mocha, with prices up to $5.25 for select seasonal drinks like a venti pumpkin spice latte.

Even simply buying only one tall cup of Joe on your way to work would cost you $37 in a month. By making your own coffee at home for far less, you can still enjoy a coffee in the morning and instead put that saved money towards something else more important, like paying off credit cards or putting money into a savings account. The $37 coffee habit may not seem like much per month, but it adds up to $444 in a year. That’s $444 less accumulating interest on a credit card.

The average debt carried by a single person in Edmonton, according to Equifax, is $26,691. That number doesn’t include mortgage debt.

If each 50 cent cigarette, $1.85 coffee, or the $605 spent yearly on alcohol was instead spent paying down debt, the $200 buffer that fifty-eight per cent of Albertans have between them and not being able to pay their bills will widen. Your debt will go down, but your health will skyrocket, too.

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