Vice and Money

According to dictionary.com, vice is defined as “an immoral or evil habit or practice.”

That could mean anything, but I’m thinking more along the lines of alcohol, gambling, and tobacco.

This past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, which means Lent is upon us–or for those who follow this Christian practice. I’m not really religious, but this is one of those things from my childhood that has made an impact in my adult life. Sacrifice, and the cleansing process that comes with it, shapes a lot of my philosophy and values. (Some say that saving is a form of sacrifice: you sacrifice now to reap the rewards in the future–I disagree, but you can look at it from that point of view.)

In previous years, during Lent, I’ve given up alcohol and chocolate, which is something I usually take–especially when I’m stressed or overwhelmed.

Draft beer at an izakaya.

This year, I’m focusing more on health so I’m giving up sweets–the sugary treats I usually snack on or end my meals with.

It’s a known fact that vices cost money. I don’t smoke, but I know that a pack of cigarettes is expensive, and if you smoke a pack a day, that all adds up. For me, I find myself spending a lot of money on alcohol, particularly bottles of wine. I’ve found cheaper bottles of wine that are not bad. But usually, a good bottle costs more than ¥1000. Beer is more affordable as you can buy a six-pack for about the same price. Some of the beers here in Japan are really good, too.

Chocolate isn’t really that expensive, but buying cake and ice cream every day can bust your wallet. It’s funny because when I’m at the grocery store, I look at the fruits on display and complain about the price of a ¥600 pack of strawberries, but I won’ complain about the two pieces of cake that cost me ¥400.

To be honest, though, it’s not only the monetary cost that I’m thinking about. I’m more worried about how these vices and bad habits will cost me my health in the long run. These “little” habits of eating sweets and having a drink here and there compounds–just like money.

Dessert, after eating at a buffet. Yikes.

In the future, I might be paying for these with extra costs in living expenses because of health care.

That’s the main reason why I try not to indulge in these vices. Yes, I’m saving money now if I don’t go out and buy them. But I’ll also be saving myself some money if I can prevent myself from getting sick from diabetes or heart disease. If I keep that in mind, I think I can find a reason to give up alcohol. I find that the craving for alcohol usually goes away if I drink just plain soda water. Chocolate, meanwhile, will take a while–which is why I’m using the momentum of this Lenten period to drive away my habit of eating sweets all the time. If I develop the habit of eating fruit instead of a sugary sweet, the healthier I will be.

Easier said than done, of course. I love fruit, but sometimes, a small piece of chocolate is so much better.

Countdown to Easter Sunday starts now. Here’s to a long Lent…

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