Your Health & Your Wealth: 3 Ways To Gain Control Of Both

A stethoscope sitting on a pile of moneyDid you know that medical debt is the #1 cause of bankruptcy and homelessness in this country? There are two major problems that we all face in life: health problems and financial problems, and ironically, they often go hand in hand.

One of the most common mistakes that people make is that they assume that it cost more money to eat healthy. On the surface this may appear to be true, but when you take into account the health impacts of eating ‘dead’ processed foods, the average family spends or wastes almost $13,000 a year to be sick.

The wasted expenses include food, beverages, eating out, doctor bills, missing work, OTC medications, prescription medications, hospital visits, surgeries, post-op care. If you’re diabetic that $13,000 a year can escalate to more than $20,000 a year. Now, that may not seem like a lot of money, but over a period of 20 years, the average diabetic may spend anywhere from $250,000 to $400,000 — just to be diabetic!

Health insurance may cushion some costs, but in the long run, even people with excellent healthcare will feel the pinch — due to rising premium payments and reduced coverage for certain medications, surgeries, operations, post-op care, etc.

The Connection

The first correlation to consider is that both health and wealth can be damaged by simply doing nothing. What happens when you neglect your health or your wealth? Let s say you spend your money with no regard for a budget or your income-level. One day you may wake up and realize that you’re deep in debt. Now, let’s apply that to health. What happens when you eat with no regard for the effects on your body? One day you may wake up and realize that you’re sick and overweight. The good news is that when you purposely begin to do the right things in either area, you’ll start to see short-term and long-term benefits.

Here are some principles for improvement that apply to both health and wealth:

First, evaluate your current position. Regarding health, evaluate your current eating and exercise habits. What foods make up your diet? Are you exercising regularly? Are you overweight? Regarding wealth, evaluate your current spending habits. Are you spending more than you earn? Where are you spending your money? Are you in debt?

Second, educate yourself. Learn what it takes to be healthy from someone who is healthy or overcame a health issue. Learn what it takes to be wealthy from someone who has achieved wealth.

Third, develop a plan. In the area of health, set out a plan for stepping out of those bad eating and exercise habits. Some people call this plan a diet, but you could think of it as a health budget. A budget is a plan for purposely limiting some aspects of spending, or in this case eating, so you will have what you need or want for another area. For example, you could “pay yourself first” by eating a large raw-vegetable salad at lunch and dinner before eating any cooked food. This ensures that you re getting the most nutritious aspect of your meal first and limits the space available for less nutritious foods.

In the area of wealth, set out a plan for stepping out of those bad spending habits. Some people call this a budget, but you could think of it as a money diet. Debt is the wealth equivalent of fat. When you find yourself overweight, it basically means you have been ingesting more calories than your body has been able to expend over a period of time. Debt, especially credit card debt, is the result of spending more than you earn over time. To “lose” debt, you must either spend less than you earn, increase your income, or both. To “pay off” your fat, your caloric intake must be less than your body expends, you must increase your activity through exercise, or both.

Principles To Improve Both

Once you’ve evaluated your position and set out your plan, begin to take the steps you’ve outlined. Don’t try to make all the changes overnight, but be consistent and be patient with yourself. For upgrading your health, you might first choose to add more fruits and vegetables and replace those junk-food snacks with fruit. After some success in this area, proceed to your next step, perhaps choosing an exercise activity that you enjoy and determining a timeslot that you can maintain. For your financial situation, you might begin by curbing those impulsive spending sprees and refusing to go into debt over an unnecessary purchase. Then, once you’ve evaluated each category of expenditure for potential money savings, you can proceed to take the steps you’ve found to reduce spending in those areas.

Next, ride the momentum and continue to step to higher levels. As you re consistent with the changes you’ve determined to make, you’ll find new freedom, which will motivate you to continue in your efforts. As your health improves, those tight clothes will loosen up and you’ll feel better. As your financial situation improves, you’ll begin to feel less financial stress and those debts will begin to disappear. You’ll find that you’re able to spend money on those smaller clothes you’ll need, now that, for example, your entertainment and debt budget categories aren’t consuming more than their fair shares of the cash.

Once you begin to gain control of your health and wealth, you should continue to revise your goals to reach higher levels. For your health, you could target new aspects of your eating habits, like sugar consumption, and begin to add weightlifting to your exercise routine. For your finances, you could begin to set up a contingency fund, start college funds for your children, and build your retirement investments.

Take time regularly to manage your health and your wealth. Once you develop good habits and self-control, maintenance will just be a matter of choosing to be a good steward in both areas.