“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise.”
In 1739, “Poor Richard” published this simple axiom in his annual Almanac to remind readers about the vital role that good health habits played in building wealth. In the two centuries since then, a host of research studies have confirmed what “Richard” and the rest of us have suspected all along: People who are healthy earn more money.
So if being physically fit and financially successful go hand in hand, which comes first? Does the money that wealthy people have help them stay healthier? Or is the fact that a person is healthy give him or her more stamina and mental acuity to become wealthy?
Research still hasn’t solved this “chicken and egg” conundrum. But since we know that one affects the other, why not start now to improve both in 2017?
INVESTING IN YOURSELF
Making your personal health and fitness a priority this year can pay big dividends over time because it helps you:
- Reduce your health-care costs: More exercise and a better diet can mean more resistance to illness and fewer medical bills for visits to the doctor and the pharmacy. They can also help you lower your blood sugar levels and your heart rate. And considering that it can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $14,000 per person, per year to treat diabetes or heart disease managing these conditions with diet and exercise can have substantial financial benefits as well.
- Lower your insurance premiums: Life insurance premiums are typically higher if you show signs of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or being overweight, so improving those risk factors by changing your health habits can also reduce your insurance costs. Becoming a non-smoker can lower insurance costs even more dramatically. You could save as much as $11,000 a year when you factor in life and health insurance, lost productivity, AND the cost of the cigarettes.
- Manage the effects of stress: According to the American Psychological Association, the top sources of stress that cause people to pursue costly, unhealthy habits are: money (67%), work (65%) family (54%), and health (51%).1 By adopting a routine that helps reduce the effects of these stressors, you can regain a positive outlook, increase your mental acuity, boost your earning power, and improve your overall well-being. Some ways to reduce stress on your own:
Recommit to exercise – Just 3 hours a week may be enough. Dr. Thomas Stanley, author of The Millionaire Next Door discovered that most self-made millionaires exercise an average of 3½ hours a week.
Recruit a partner to stay on track – If you’re so inclined, walking or working out with a friend or colleague can keep you motivated. It also can help you avoid the costly mistake of paying an annual fee for a gym membership that you won’t use after a month or so. This will just add to your costs – and your stress level.
Set aside a little extra time (and money) for yourself –Yoga classes or an occasional spa visit or massage can be excellent stress reducers.
WORKING WITH YOUR ADVISORS
Taking more control on the financial side with the help of your advisors can also reduce stress and give you peace of mind while you improve your financial health. Some areas to explore with your Boston Private team right now:
- Review your portfolio’s asset allocation and diversification: Make sure you’re investing appropriately for your current goals and risk tolerance. As the stock and bond markets continue to shift in the year ahead, your asset allocation may need to be adjusted and rebalanced regularly. Do you anticipate more market volatility in 2017? You may want to schedule more frequent check-ins with your advisor to feel comfortable that your savings and investment accounts are aligned with your expectations.
- Prepare for life’s curve balls: Having sufficient insurance and some money set aside for emergencies can go a long way in reducing your stress. This may also be a good time to review your options for self-insuring or purchasing an insurance policy to address the possibility of unexpected long-term care expenses in your later years as well.
- Plan for the future: Before things get too hectic with your New Year commitments, why not spend a few minutes with your attorney and financial advisor to make sure your assets are protected for the future with:
- An updated will, advance directive and health care proxy
- A strategy to manage the high cost of health care when you’re older, including:
- Saving more today to manage the extra Medicare premiums paid by high earners
- Taking advantage of a Health Savings Account if you have access to one
- Trusts to protect your real assets and other wealth for the next generation
- A business succession plan that paves the way for the orderly transfer of your firm
1 Stress in America™: Paying with our Health, American Psychological Association, Feb. 2015
At Boston Private, we look forward to working with you to explore the connection between your physical and financial well-being – and to realize the full potential of your wealth. We pride ourselves in taking a holistic, big picture view of your situation and identifying solutions that address your unique and highly personal wealth management, trust, and private banking needs.