You carry your health with you your entire life.
In the US, that average life expectancy is almost 79 years old as of 2012.
Think about it:
Every single decision you make now affects your health down the road.
Depending on that decision, it could be the difference between debilitating health issues and a relatively healthy retirement where you can stay active and not run up huge health bills.
According to an article from The Wall Street Journal, the average individual will rack of $220,000 worth of health expenses in retirement. That’s a lot of money!
Now think about what may happen if you don’t take care of your body. That $220,000 number can climb up even more.
And health care spending is expected to grow at a considerable rate in the coming years.
It’s already skyrocketed.
Are you willing to deal with the health consequences of not taking care of yourself now?
Are you ready to literally pay the price?
You are what you eat
Healthy living starts with a solid diet.
Have you ever heard that saying “You are what you eat?” Probably.
Eat a crappy diet and honestly you feel pretty bad throughout the day. You may not even realize it though because that’s all you’ve ever known.
I used to eat a pretty bad diet filled with sugary cereals, processed foods and more.
And it was cheap.
I was saving money in the moment and hey, who doesn’t love some of those foods?
Very few vegetables, fruit and fresh food made it into my diet. I was young, a healthy weight, and active, so I thought my diet wasn’t affecting me much.
Well, I ended up making a lifestyle change because I knew in theory that a changed diet would be healthier.
Side note: a lifestyle change is much more effective than going on a diet.
Part of my change was cutting out the vast majority of added sugars in my diet. As a result, cereal is gone. So are supposed “health” bars, random snacks, bagels and more.
And now I feel great.
I would have never thought I felt so bad beforehand, but making a simple diet change ended up having a huge impact.
I’m sleeping better, recover after exercise more efficiently and honestly just feel better.
There’s no question it’s more expensive when you go to the store, but in my opinion it has definitely been worth it.
If you are questioning whether or not it is worth it, I challenge you to try it for a week. Track your expenses and how you feel. And in fact, it’s easier to eat healthy making your own meals instead of going out, so while you may spend more at the grocery store, you actually will save some by not getting food from a restaurant.
The finances of eating healthy
Harvard estimates it costs an extra $1.50 to eat healthy per day.
Only $550 per year extra to eat healthy? Done.
Eating well can reduce chronic inflammation which can lead to various diseases, keep your immune system strong, enable you to exercise, keep the weight off (which drastically reduces risks for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, etc.) and more.
You keep your body in tip-top shape.
Take one of the most common diseases these days, Type 2 diabetes.
For reference, Type 1 is genetic and typically diagnosed as a child or teenager. As of now, if you’re predisposed to getting type 1 there’s no way to avoid it. About 1.25 million Americans have this type of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes on the other hand, is a different story. You have much greater influence on whether or not you get type 2.
You’re estimated to spend 2.3x more on health care if you have diabetes than if you don’t. $7,900 per year can be attributed to diabetes-specific spending.
Let’s say you live with Type 2 for 30 years. From 40 to 70.
Without inflation, that’s $237,000 just to take care of your diabetes. And that doesn’t even account for other issues that may arise because of the stress diabetes puts on your body.
Some people with type 1 diabetes (the genetic variation) don’t have a choice. They can be incredibly healthy and still be diagnosed. Type 2, however, is strongly impacted by whether or not you live a healthy lifestyle.
Long term, I hope it doesn’t sound that bad to spend an extra $1.50 per day on food or $550 per year in order to eat healthy. The alternative is spending more money on health issues down the road.
$550 per year extra to eat healthy vs. $7,900 per year to manage diabetes?
On a per year basis, that’s a huge return. I would take that every single second of the day and I hope you would to.
Now diabetes isn’t the only health issue that can arise from a poor diet. However, with 27.5 million people affected, it certainly is one of the most prevalent in this day and age.
Unfortunately we just don’t prioritize our health as much as we should because our body, naturally, is so resilient. Damage from lack of exercise or bad nutrition can take time to manifest itself.
If people believe that what we can’t see won’t hurt us, then they are in for a rude awakening if they have a bad diet.
If that’s you, it’s not too late to change though!
Get up and move! It’s cheap.
Eating healthy costs a little bit more money.
Exercising doesn’t have to.
When you think about exercise, committing to being active, or losing weight, what comes to mind?
The gym? New running shoes or exercise equipment? Costly weight loss plans?
Are those the immediate costs you think about?
Being active can add up if you let it, but your investment in being active doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary.
Improved nutrition can cost money. Exercise doesn’t have to. Rather, a lot of your investment will have to be your time. It doesn’t have to be a lot.
The CDC recommends 30 minutes of moderate activity, 5 days a week, for adults. The American Heart Association and the World Health Organization echo this statement.
Where can you find 30 minutes in your day?
Is it perhaps before you head off to work in the morning? Maybe during lunch you go on a 30 minute walk to get out of the office, clear your head and get your blood moving.
You don’t need expensive running shoes for this. You don’t need expensive equipment. And you certainly don’t need a more-complicated-than-it-needs-to-be gym membership for $58 per month, which is the national average according to US News & Statistic Brain.
In fact, $39 of that $58 average gym membership technically goes to waste because of non-activity.
If joining a gym motivates you, then go for it.
54.1 million Americans were members of a health club in 2014. But think of your overall budget. If you’re wanting to find a way to cut fat (pun intended) off of your expenses, a gym membership can be one of the first things to go.
The outdoors are free. Exercise is free.
Invest your time and you can see results, regardless of where you’re putting in the hard work. And it can also help you avoid getting sick.
Sick of feeling sick?
According to a Forbes article, sickness costs the US economy $576 billion dollars.
Are you contributing to that statistic?
$232 billion of that is directly attributed to medical costs.
While eating healthy and exercising is a long-term investment in yourself, don’t shortchange the affect it has on your short term health by not getting sick as frequently.
Maybe staying healthy means not missing work and using up sick days (or having to use unpaid days if you’re out of those).
Perhaps it means having more energy to take care of your kids.
Getting sick happens, even if you’re incredibly healthy. Sometimes your body just can’t fight something off. When that happens, it’s OK. But the key is to prevent and minimize the sicknesses that you contract. It will save you money.
Include your health in your investment portfolio
What does your portfolio consist of? Are you on the conservative side or do you take some risks? Do you invest for short term gains or long term returns?
Regardless of how you invest, make sure you add your health into your portfolio.
Aggressive, conservative, it doesn’t matter.
Many subscribe to the idea that you should pay yourself first.
Sleep. Learn. Exercise. Eat healthy. Enjoy life.
These are all ways you can invest in yourself. Paying yourself should mean ensuring that your body and mind are ready for the days and years ahead.
If you’re saving for the future, you should be making sure you have a healthy future.