When my clients describe their ideal retirement, the most common responses are “healthy”, “comfortable“ and “secure.” Typically most successful retirees find ways to align these goals...while pursuing the things that make them the most happy in their life. There seems to be a definite psychological connection between how we plan for our money and how we plan for our health.
Developing good habits can lead to big dividends down the road for both your health and your nest egg.
The Harvard School of Public Health studied how five habits affected long-term health: eating well, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy body weight, avoiding smoking, and drinking alcohol in moderation.
According to the study, women who adopted four of these habits by age 50 lived 34 more years free of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer than women who did not. Men who adopted four of the five habits lived 31 more years without developing these diseases. And both men and women who adopted this lifestyle lived almost 24 years longer than those who didn’t.1
Building daily wins towards weekly and monthly targets can make a difference for your health in the next 12 months and beyond. Focus on the steps, not the mountain itself.
Of all the tools that make up your financial plan, nothing has a bigger and more immediate impact than your spending. How many of these healthy spending habits can you check off?
- Spend less than you earn
- Have a strong awareness of your “Money In vs. Money Out”
- “Pay yourself first” by making automatic monthly contributions to savings and retirement accounts
- Avoid unnecessary high cost credit
- Always maintain ample liquidity for emergencies (Savings, Liquid Investments, low cost accessible Lines of Credit
The relationship between your money and your health is something you and your advisor should be monitoring closely once you do retire. Without a monthly paycheck and employer-subsidized health care coverage to fall back on, your nest egg will have to pay for whatever Medicare doesn’t. If you or your spouse have any significant health issues or prescription drug needs, choosing the right Medicare options will be especially critical to keeping your out-of-pocket expenses under control.
One way to keep those expenses low is to improve your lifestyle now. A study by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine linked the healthy habits discussed above to significant health care cost savings for seniors.2
By controlling the things you can control early in your retirement, the money you can possibly save on health care could provide a cushion later in retirement if something unexpected does occur...or if you or your spouse need in-home nursing or an assisted living facility.
A healthier lifestyle will also give you more options for enjoying the assets you’ve worked so hard to save and grow. Do you want decades of “less-than-healthy” eating habits to hinder you and your spouse from taking that dream trip to Europe once you retire? If a lifelong lack of exercise creates a serious health problem at 65, the money you earmarked for a move to Florida might have to cover gaps in your Medicare coverage.
My goal for all my clients is they live the best life possible with the money they have at every stage of their lives. Taking the proper daily steps in both your daily health and finances will allow you to continue the ongoing journey up the mountain. Assessing your situation and planning now will help secure your success.