The Cost of Health
As I was talking with a friend about health, I mentioned that my wife and I do our best to get organic healthier foods, but how it can be pricey compared to other food choices. To this she responded, “You either pay for it now or pay for it later.” How true that is! What she meant by this is that we all have a choice. We can either use money now to sustain a healthy lifestyle or spend a lot more later to pay for all the medical expenses due to poor health.
According to the American Diabetes Association, the average annual cost for medical expenses for diabetics is a little less than $8000 USD. If there are other medical issues (as is often the case with diabetics), those costs were upward of $16,000 USD a year. Other medical related costs for illnesses such as heart disease, arthritis, or cancer range from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars in bills.
These numbers aren’t meant to scare anyone, but simply to put things into perspective. Too often we focus on the short-term (What will this cost me now? How do I want to feel now?) instead of looking at the long-term (What will this save me down the road? How do I want to feel in 10, 20, or 50 years?). Would saving some money now by keeping unhealthy habits really be worth it if we end up spending a whole lot more later in medication and doctor’s visits?
It should also be noted that although we may be trying to save money by buying cheaper foods, an unhealthy lifestyle leads to a lack of energy, creativity, and productivity, as well as leads to illnesses. All of this affects our ability to work, affecting our pay. We can’t work if we’re sick. If we’re less productive and creative, we’ll miss out on opportunities for raises and promotions at work, or opportunities to grow a business. We may be trying to save money, but we’re actually hindering our ability to earn money.
Often times the reason we choose to avoid paying for organic foods, buying a health program, or anything else that can improve our health is because we have an unhealthy view of money; how we feel about spending money is a reflection of our beliefs about money.
When we have an unhealthy relationship with money, we believe there’s never enough money. This often leads to us saying phrases such as, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”, “I can’t afford it.”, “I’m poor.” etc. These limiting beliefs keep us from seeing the abundance all around us. I once heard that we shouldn’t say, “I can’t afford it.” Instead, ask yourself, “How can I afford it?” This helps bring out your God-given creativity and helps you see the many options that are available. We have a great podcast that addresses the topic of money, you can find it here.
One of the greatest investments we can make is in our own health and that of our family’s. Not only does it help us feel good, but a healthy lifestyle helps us to improve our memory, learning, relationships, ability to work, creativity, and many other benefits. It seems there’s a misconception and unfortunate expectation to get sick and fall apart as we get older. It’s true that the body slows down with age, but not to the degree we have become accustomed to. When true healthy lifestyles are in place, one can live a long, healthy, energetic life for many years without ever getting diabetes, cancer, arthritis, etc. The key, though, is to invest in your health today.
Although I’ve used buying organic, healthier foods as an example, investing in your health goes beyond food. Depending on your goals and current health conditions, investing in your health could include purchasing a health program, exercise equipment or gear, a gym membership, or various other investments to improve your health.
While it’s true we must recondition and reconcile any negative associations with money, that doesn’t mean we should be irresponsible with it. In no way am I suggesting that you take your whole paycheck and buy the whole organic section of your local store. Or that you don’t pay your bills in order to buy running shoes. Practice wise financial principles while investing in your health. In that spirit, let me offer some advice on how to have healthier habits while keeping costs lower.
While making a huge overhaul of your pantry isn’t a bad idea, it isn’t always ideal. A good way to start building the habit is by trading out foods little by little. For example, start by buying just one or two organic/healthier foods (such as cucumbers or bell peppers). Then incorporate another item (such as organic chicken or turkey) the following week. Keep incorporating items every two weeks or so, as your budget permits.
Look for deals and coupons
Every store I know of has deals and coupons at some point. Look out for deals on organic and fresh food.
When buying foods such as chicken or turkey, consider buying extra if on sale and freezing it. Many meats and fruits will stay good in the freezer for months, if stored properly.
Create a home garden
If space permits, consider creating a home garden. You could plant one or two (or more) vegetables and/or fruits. Seeds and soil are generally inexpensive. All that’s required is some extra time to tend to your plants, but home grown food tends to taste fantastic.
Learn exercises you can do from home/locally
Exercise is an important part of health, but it doesn’t always require going to the gym; not everyone is trying to turn into Arnold Schwarzenegger. From qualified people, learn exercises you can do from home that require little to no equipment. Even a simple 30 minute walk around your neighborhood is good for your health.
Work on your finances
Another obvious way to afford investing in your health is to look over your finances. Are there things you are buying that really aren’t important for your family? Are there monthly subscriptions that your don’t use? More often than not, we don’t realize where our money is going unless we take the time to review our finances. Early in our marriage, my wife and I were shocked to find out we were spending nearly $200 a month on eating out! We still enjoy eating out, but not as often. Instead, we’ve redirected that money to areas that are more important to us, including investing in our health.
Additionally, as you ponder on your personal situation, you’ll receive impressions on other things you can do to improve your personal finances and create a healthier lifestyle. Follow through with the impressions.
These tips can help you develop healthy habits, without stretching your wallet. However, let’s not forget to also practice healthy habits that don’t cost anything. Learning to reconcile our past, forgiving, improving our thoughts, and getting the right amount and quality of sleep are some of the needed habits for a healthy life.
As we incorporate these habits, we are investing in our health. Although much of this blog has revolved around how our health affects our finances, at the end of the day the best reasons for investing in our health are the reasons that aren’t tangible. The feelings of peace and happiness, the energy and stamina, the creativity, the growth, these are some of the benefits we reap by investing in our health. Additionally, as our health improves, we become better able to achieve our good goals, serve others, and strengthen our relationships with friends, family, and our community. There’s no better time to start investing in your health than today.