Your health and money have a closer relationship than you think. Read on for tips to improve both!
Money is one of the tools we resort to when we are feeling unwell, stressed or depressed. Our language reflects that there is a deep connection between health and money. The moniker of “retail therapy” was coined for a reason. Intuitively, it is easy to see how more money might result in better health. The good news is that the connection works in the other direction, too! Taking better care of your health can lead to a healthier bank account balance.
Frequent snacks out of the vending machine, lunches at a local fast-food joint and dinners out wreak havoc on your body. Sure, eating out can be convenient and fun. However, unless you are consistently choosing super healthy and balanced options, restaurants also surround us with tempting options. Why not have a piece of fluffy and deliciously-smelling bread fresh out of the over? Heck, why not have it the whole loaf? And how can you say “no” to that piece of pie with a scoop of ice cream for dessert?
By eating at home, you re-stack the odds because you are the one in control of planning your meals, buying the groceries and portioning the food. And you get to save money in the process! Recent USDA numbers show that nationwide costs of home-cooked meals have been stable or slightly increasing with inflation, while the price tag for eating out has been climbing steeply. This does not mean that you can never eat at a nice restaurant again, just that making a habit out of grabbing meals and snacks out can be harmful for both your health and wallet.
Does a full night’s sleep make you more financially savvy? Actually, it might help more than you realize! We have all heard about the studies that showed sleep deprivation has the same impact on performance as being drunk. Virtually every adult is familiar with that woozy, drowsy feeling of being exhausted and running on fumes.
Acute sleep deprivation (i.e. going 24 or more hours on no sleep) is dangerous, but chronic shortage of sleep is just as harmful. Your mind is not as quick, you cannot think as clearly, and you make decisions that aren’t the best. That includes your decisions with money. Depending on the day, that might mean adding two magazines and a pack of chocolates to your pile at the grocery check-out (none of which you needed), or buying a new car with more options than you planned and financing terms that are unfavorable in the long run.
What can you do about this? Make sure you get enough sleep, to start. For most adults that means somewhere between 7 and 9 hours, although sleep needs are individual. If a continuous stretch that long does not work for you, try adding a mid-day nap. Be sure to also address your waking rest by building in some walking, reading, gardening or other activities that recharge your batteries while you are awake.
Yes, getting on that stationary bike or into a Jazzercise class can be good for your wallet! For one, you would be using that gym membership you have purchased back in January. You would also be getting the benefit of more oxygen, better blood circulation, a boost in your mental clarity and a lift from the happy chemicals called endorphins. All of that does not just potentially lead to fewer doctor visits – it helps you make better decisions. That means next time you are facing a sale rack in a department store or an impulse purchase of some other kind, your odds of walking away from it are better.
If an exercise program seems out of your reach, choose a physical activity you genuinely enjoy (perhaps hiking or walking), recruit a friend to keep you company and help you stay accountable, and pick a routine that’s reasonable for your lifestyle. Small early wins beget more wins and bigger goals.
If you are looking for an additional kick in the pants, apps like Pact allow you to tie your fitness goals to a financial reward or punishment. Make a bet to get to the gym 3 times this week. If you make it, you get free money. If you don’t, other Pact members will reap the financial fruit of your slacking.
Have you noticed how sometimes we shop because we are bored? Stimulating projects at work or at home, conversations with friends, exciting new books and TV shows have a way of keeping our minds fascinated and busy. In addition to creating greater quality of life and making you a more interesting conversationalist, mental stimulation can lead you to spend less money mindlessly.
Finally, a strong connection with the world around you can help you re-discover and focus on what matters most. Money is an important vehicle for allowing us to have what we need and what makes us comfortable. However, life’s greater joys cannot be purchased at a designer boutique or a department store. Spiritual practices will look different for each person. Whether you attend church service, meditate or walk on the beach, be sure to create opportunities to re-connect to the greater Creation and what’s most meaningful and important for you. These rituals can be very effective at putting money in the right place in your hierarchy of values, and they also have the side-effect of fostering more joy and deeper personal relationships.
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