Carly Fauth <email@example.com> shared that “Healthy, wealthy, and wise” is a tall order, but did you know how closely-linked health and wealth actually are? We often see how healthy financially-successful people are. But what if one could not truly exist and be maintained without the other?
Keeping your finances in order and organized can help you stay healthy in a variety of ways. People can (and have) written entire books about this topic since health and personal finance are each complex topics with lots of nuances. As an introduction, though, here are some of the top-level facts that will help get you motivated to find financial and physical prosperity.
Financial Health Will Lead You to Physical Health
- Better Access to Health Care
You don’t have to be a bleeding heart liberal to realize that better finances lead to better health care. If you can afford a better insurance plan, you’re more likely to get prompt treatment for injuries and illness, and to be treated by a better-qualified doctor. More importantly, for long-term health, you can afford more preventive medicine. That’s when you go to the doctor for the tests and examinations that spot a pending health problem before it becomes a serious issue.
At the most extreme, this can mean the difference between surviving or not because your doctor spotted cancer in time. Less dramatically, it can mean better joint care through early diagnosis, shorter recovery periods, and cheaper treatments for illnesses caught in the introductory stage.
- Eating Better
Although rich restaurant meals and processed frozen foods cost more than cooking yourself a healthy dinner, most of the cheapest foods available are terrible for you. A few examples:
- A Big Mac costs more than a salad at McDonald’s.
- Juice—especially fresh—costs more per serving than soda.
- Processed carbohydrates cost less than whole grains.
- Organic anything costs more than standard versions.
If your finances are in order, you can take the steps you need to eat better, too. You can afford the fresh, organic vegetables; and the meat without chemical fillers; and the meals at health-conscious restaurants rather than fast food; and the 100% juices without sugar added. Etc.
For parents, the situation is even worse. Schools in lower-income neighborhoods routinely have less nutritious and healthful lunches than schools with higher property values. That means poor financial health impacts your children’s nutrition for 1/3 of their meals.
A healthy diet is one of the two most important factors in your health, and financial health makes it easier to have one.
- Safer Homes and Neighborhoods
Having more money impacts the safety of your home both at the macro and the micro level.
At the macro level, being able to afford a more expensive home means that you live in a better, safer neighborhood. You’re less likely to fall victim to a violent crime or suffer the stress of a property crime. You’re also exposed to less noise and pollution, both of which make you sicker more often and for longer periods of time.
It’s also true that lower-income neighborhoods receive less investment for public works than places you can afford to live if you are financially healthy. That means fewer parks, fewer bike lanes, fewer recreation centers; overall, fewer nearby places that encourage an active lifestyle.
At the micro level, your home will be safer, too. You can afford the higher-end smoke and CO2 alarms, the less-toxic paints, the safety lighting, and all the other small tools to prevent accidents and avoid environmentally-caused illnesses.
Being financially healthy also makes you more likely to own your home, which (although it does come with some of its own unique stressors) has been shown to overall reduce stress. If only because you’re less likely to move as often as the average renter in the USA.
- You Can Afford to Be Active
Whether it’s a gym membership, a Pilates class, a real vacation, or indulging in a hobby, if your finances are healthy, you can engage in the activities that help you be healthy more often. This happens for two reasons:
- You can afford the lessons, memberships, equipment, airfare, and other costs associated with healthy activities. If your finances are really out of control, even a $30 a month gym membership might be out of reach. If they’re just so-so, your vacations might just be short trips instead of opportunities to truly unwind.
- You have the time to engage. Poor financial health means taking extra jobs, or working extra hours, or spending time worrying about money even in the middle of your judo class. Good financial health gives you the space in your schedule to be more active, whatever your activity of choice is.
Exercise and recreation are key components to a healthy lifestyle, and more wealth gives you the time and the money to do it properly.
This is especially important when it comes to vacations. Many experts agree that at least a full week off each year (and preferably two consecutive weeks) is necessary to get the relaxation in that your body and mind need to be as healthy as it can. That’s nearly impossible in the realities of people with poor financial health.
- Less Stress
Two pieces of information for you:
- Two of the top ten stressors in a human’s life (finances and job loss) are related to financial health.
- Three of the top ten causes of adult death (heart disease, stroke, suicide) are complicated or made more likely by stress.
Put those two pieces together, and the message is clear and obvious. More stress results in lower-quality health. And poor financial health results in more stress.
We’re not only talking about the likelihood of death, either. What follows is an incomplete list of things stress—including financial stress—can do to your body, according to information from Mayoclinic.org.
Headaches, chest pains, fatigue, sleep problems, anxiety, depression, overeating, lack of exercise, muscle pain, loss of libido, lack of focus, irritability, higher risk of tobacco, alcohol, and drug abuse.
Stress also directly reduces the power of your immune system. In short, stress is bad news. Financial health reduces stress. It’s pretty clear.
Financial and physical health are two things in which people, by and large, have difficulty making great decisions. That’s because both require putting off short-term gratification for long-term well-being. We’re fighting a couple hundred thousand years of evolution every time we make the sensible decision there.
But a funny thing happens when you start exercising discipline with your finances and your health. Like any other kind of exercise, it builds the strength of what you’re working on. You’ll find that sound financial moves make it easier to both make the next good money decision and to get on that treadmill, or skip that McDonald’s run. Neither pays off today. But both pay off soon enough to enjoy the benefits.
Besides, what’s the point of being wealthy if you’re not healthy enough to enjoy it? Or to live a long time while constantly stressed about money?
Paul Brandin is a life coach with a specialization in career transition and financial prosperity. With a history of making it out of the boonies, he is uniquely qualified to share advice about the correlation between financial comfort and good health, and how not to make it an obsession.