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Americans prefer saving over spending: Will quitting smoking increase savings?

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Maybe all the talk about America's debt crisis is rubbing off on the everyday person. But how are smokers' wallets being affected by this news?

According to a recent Gallup poll, 62 percent of Americans prefer saving over spending. Forty percent say they are spending less in recent months than they used to, 28 percent say more and 30 percent say the same amount.

However, in a Bankrate study that CNN reported on, 76 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. So how can one save if one can barely afford to survive?

Sometimes everyday life changes can help police paychecks. One common way to burn through money is smoking cigarettes.

A pack of cigarettes is estimated at 20 total. If a carton contains 10 packs, that's 200 cigarettes total. On online discount cigarette sites, such as DutyFreeDepot.com, a carton of Kools is $33.99 and a carton of Newports is $36.99.

If the average cost of cigarettes in Illinois is $11.59 without taxes and a smoker goes through a pack per week, multiply that by 52 weeks in a year and it's $602.68. That's also assuming this same smoker only smokes about 3 cigarettes per day, which is about 21 cigarettes per week.

Cancer.org's The Smoking Cost Calculator will also help consumers calculate how much they're spending on cigarettes in a year. It also takes into account how long a smoker has had this addiction. According to CDC, each day, nearly 4,000 people under age 18 smoke their first cigarette and approximately 1,000 people under age 18 become daily smokers.

So if that a smoker who smokes 3 cigarettes per day, 21 cigarettes per week and 84 cigarettes per month buys a carton instead, then that might suffice for a little over two months. But that smoker would need at least six cartons to last a year, adding up to at least $201.84 for Kool cigarettes and $219.52 for Newport cigarettes (with Duty Free Depot's current online deal).

The number one cigarette brand, according to TheTopTens.com, is Marlboro. Using the same calculations and purchasing a carton directly from Marlboro's online site, at $24.99 per carton, that's $149.94 (excluding shipping and handling charges) for a year's worth.

Using 10 year's worth of Marlboro money for savings sums up to $1,499.40 minimum, assuming a consumer is solely purchasing cartons, and cigarette prices and taxes don't continue to rise.

However, starting a savings account with popular banks, such as Chase and Bank of America, only costs $300 minimum with Chase and $25 minimum with Bank of America. That's not including the interest that will accumulate. Certificate of Deposits (CDs) are also $1000 to open and start saving.

Should your "extra" money be used to risk being part of the 228,190 new cases of lung cancer or for your retirement?

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all her latest Chicago finance, employment and savings tips, or subscribe to her Chicago Personal Finance channel at the top of this page.

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