Morgan Housel, a Loeb Award finalist for financial journalism once wrote a story that stuck with me. It’s a story about a guy taking a smoke break with his non-smoking colleague.

“How long have you been smoking for?” the colleague asks.

“Thirty years,” says the smoker.

“Thirty years!” marvels the co-worker. “That costs so much money. At a pack a day, you’re spending $1,900 a year. Had you instead invested that money at an 8% return for the last 30 years, you’d have $250,000 in the bank today. That’s enough to buy a Ferrari.”

The smoker looked puzzled. “Do you smoke?” he asked his co-worker.

“No.”

“So where is your Ferrari?

If you don’t smoke you can substitute coffee for cigarettes and work through similar math. It’s the type of math many financial advisors use when speaking to colleagues about saving every last buck and letting the magic of compounding interest do its work. However, it doesn’t take into account the simple joys in life.

Sure, not buying a pack of cigarettes or a Starbucks a day will save you money. But it may not save you from strangling your boss. Within reason, vices can be good for people; there’s an upside to happiness.

If you want to quit smoking, do it to prevent lung cancer and emphysema. However, there are easier ways to save $1,900 a year. My job as an advisor is to help you find them. The goal of financial advising should not be to put a stop to happiness, but to help you find ways to achieve the life you want. That probably involves a few vices that just feel good.

Hate budgeting? You are not alone. I can help you:

  • Create a money management strategy to achieve your goals
  • Explore debt management strategies
  • Design a savings plan that fits your budget

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