The Health-Wealth Connection
by Shawnda Spille
Fit to Retire
Reduce Your Waist, Not Your Wallet
The more I learn about health, the more it reminds me of wealth. In fact, the Bible even puts these two together in III John 2, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health even as thy soul prospers." These two aspects of our lives can either free us or limit what we are able to accomplish, depending on our stewardship. It's amazing how the same principles for success apply to both health and wealth. Some of us have more experience, knowledge, and understanding in one area than the other, so it's beneficial to look at the similarities between the two in order to improve in both areas.
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?
Secondly, 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.
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 time slot that you can maintain. For your financial situation, you might begin by curbing those impulse 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 weight-lifting 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. There's a saying in the financial world that applies equally to health: "The longer term your perspective, the better your decision will be." Let's begin to exercise discipline now to invest in our future health and wealth.
Shawnda Spille is a Certified Public Accountant and a nutrition and health advocate. Copyright - Shawnda Spille
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