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Your Health and Your Finances

by Brandon Schleter

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The first month of 2019 is almost over if you can believe it, and by now hopefully you've paid off those Christmas credit card bills. (If not, make sure you talk to us about a holiday plan for this year!). With those balances back to zero, many folks are now looking towards their goals and resolutions that involve saving money, so I wanted to give you a few tips and tricks to help you build that nest egg, now and for the rest of your life.

Lots of clients ask for advice such as "What are good ways to save money? What's best for my retirement plan? How should I start investing?" One answer I give to people when they ask these questions often surprises them. Saving, planning for retirement and investing can end up being meaningless if you don't take care of your health. Truly. Health is a highly overlooked part of a person's financial life and plan.

Looking after your health and well-being - and your family's health and well-being - can absolutely have positive effects on your finances, in some obvious and some less obvious ways.

First, you'll have fewer doctor visits that you have to pay for. Manage your blood pressure, prevent diabetes and other chronic conditions related to obesity, and you won't spend nearly as much on medical care, insurance, or medicines. We tend to only think about heart attacks when we think about weight-related health issues, but we must not forget the much higher chance of different types of cancer due to unhealthy lifestyles as well. Recent studies have started to show that certain cancers are more predisposed from a person's lifestyle rather than genetics.

Major medical expenses and surgeries related to these issues can throw a huge curveball into your pre-retirement and retirement income. While we cannot know for certain that if you eat X food, you will get cancer, there are dietary measures you can take to mitigate the chances. But, even if cancer isn't an issue, you can't deny the other ailments that can occur with excess weight, such as arthritis and joint damage down the line. Even if you're not overweight, not regularly exercising leads to weaker joints and poor cardiovascular health, increasing your chances of worse injuries down the line.

Next, let's talk about production at work. The obvious effect of poor health is of course taking excessive sick days, but if you aren't in good physical condition, chances are your mind, energy, and body aren't performing well enough for you to excel at your job even when you are there. A better and stronger heart equates to better circulation. Better circulation means more oxygen to the brain. Simply put, if you feel good, you will perform better at your job. Whatever your livelihood, fitness doesn't hurt.

Now you're probably thinking about food costs - right? Many people think eating healthy has to be expensive. However, take a look at the grocery store coupon booklets. A vast majority of coupons are for processed or boxed foods. Meaning what? There is a lot more mark-up in a box of cookies than in a banana. I challenge anyone to tell me that whole, healthy groceries are more expensive than the American norm of fast food and packaged convenience.

You'll come up with your own meal plans that work for you and your family, but for me, one rule of thumb that's worked is that I don't eat anything out of a box. You'll be amazed at how much money you save putting things that aren't from a box into your shopping cart. You come out with a weeks' worth of produce, meat that you can cook now or freeze, and other natural food staples for easily under $50, and that's being generous. Next time you're grocery shopping, take a look at how the boxed items hurt your health as well as your bill. And yes, this includes the plastic package of Oreos, I'm sorry to say.

Of course I'm not saying that you can't ever treat yourself. Life should be enjoyed, after all. But simply eating a little better a lot of the time, and regularly exercising, can make a huge difference when they're part of your regular lifestyle. Trust me: you'll feel better, have more energy, and a more positive outlook.

Financial planning is about all about chances and how a person handles risk. It's true that we don't know what the next day holds, but if we can do things that make our chances of that next day being even better, then we actually have a little more power to control our destiny.

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