Your Body the Bank
Health care never fails to make headlines in America. Taking care of body, mind and soul has been a challenge for every human ever. If you don’t feel well, nothing else matters much. You’re not worried about your tax rate or the stock market when your body hurts so bad you can’t think straight. To be well and to feel well is top of mind for every single human.
Our physical and mental health is also a consistent predictor of your future financial success, and therefore our future freedom to pursue what’s most valuable to us.
The system of healthcare in our country is not a model of efficiency and productivity. There are multiple and complex reasons why this is so, and an analysis of the system is beyond the scope of this article. But it does help us understand why healthcare can get people in such a financial bind, and why there are outcries for more reforms to the US healthcare system.
When our health isn’t going well (aka getting or being sick) it’s easy to feel like a victim. It is tempting to believe external factors came and acted upon us and have made us unhealthy. And many times, it is true that our health is out of our control. However, like most things, to go into that victim mentality does much more harm than good.
There is plenty that each of us has within our control to influence our physical and mental health. The primary challenge of managing our health well is that there is a large time gap between the performance of an unhealthy behavior and the long term negative consequence. And the other challenge is the fact that one small action has hardly no impact on your health. What really matters are behavior patterns.
For example, ending your evening with a bowl of ice cream each night isn’t that financially costly. It probably costs you about $0.50 per bowl if you bought your ice cream from the grocery store. The bowl last night had no noticeable impact on your overall cholesterol level (especially since you probably only check your cholesterol once every year or few years).
But if you enjoyed that bowl of ice cream every single night of your life before bed, there’s not much saving your long term cholesterol, and therefore your risk of heart disease goes WAY up, and you’ll end up spending thousands in insurance deductibles (and possibly higher premiums). More than that, you’ll also end up costing your federal and state government (subsidizers of health care) hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars.
Alternatively, if you instill healthy behavior patterns in your life, you’ll not only avoid higher medical costs, you’ll also find an ability to serve others better for longer, which often translates into much higher incomes. If not higher income, a much higher satisfaction in life.
Stop looking externally to catch a break. Your body and your mind are your bank. They are the tools you have to create financial freedom and a full life.