I just wrote a blog today on How Healthy Are You? (http://redshealthtips.com/2011/05/how-healthy-are-you/) I am researching materials to quantitatively define health for a book that I will be writing shortly. As I was thinking about ‘how healthy’ one might be, it occurred that the ‘wealth’ aspect of life was just as apropos. Do you know how wealthy you are?
The obvious answer is the bottom life of your bank, savings and investment accounts – plus the assets you have accumulated along the way – minus the ‘money owed’ that is still currently due. That is a traditional way to look at wealth. The truer answer might include a different mindset. If something happened to you tonight, and you were never able to work another day in your life – how long could you survive? This includes escalating costs for health care, food, gasoline, and discretionary spending.
Most people operate their finances on a month-to-month basis – with little long-term savings. A million or two dollars in the bank will evaporate in a short period of time if you do not have the discipline to control routine expenses. Any one who has been fired or laid off from a job knows first-hand the bleakness of the future and the hemorrhage of money that continues to flow out of your bank account. It is a difficult thing to change a lifestyle at a moment’s notice.
Yet, most of us are saving what we can out of our paychecks and spending as much as we can on new clothes, cars and homes. The habit of spending – uncontrolled spending – will exacerbate the best retirement savings plan. Most people don’t realize that they should plan to live to the age of 90. Statistically, if you make 70 years of age, you will make 80. What is the number one expense in retirement? Health related expenses – drugs, treatments, surgeries, hospitalizations, doctor visits, etc. Medicare and Medicaid are partial solutions – and they take you out of the decision process in many cases.
If you are in decent health now, what are the odds that you will be at that same level of health twenty years from now? You might be interested in reading the series of blogs that I will be producing on assessing and improving your health as you age. My father, like many people, had a big fear of dying. It’s not in the top fear in life, but it is in the top ten. I believe that the quality of life is more important that dying. Do you want to wait while someone gets around to changing your diaper for years to come? I don’t think so.
When you look at the definition of wealth, it includes riches, means, capital, material goods, funds, treasure, fortune, resources, holdings, etc. I view wealth under the general term of prosperity and include health with wealth. Why would you want to have twenty million dollars in the bank and unable to spend it because you are bed-ridden in later life? Health should be a major portion of your wealth equation starting today. Without it you will not be able to enjoy the wealth you accumulate.
Social Security Administration studies have proved that after forty years of working, only five percent of the people receiving social security payments were truly wealthy. They did not need the government sending them extra checks each month in their retirement. I thought those figures were inaccurate when I first read them. I think about all the people I know and associate with and I believe the majority of them to be self-sufficient and ready for long-term retirement. However, as I look closer, I see that many of them are on four or more prescription medicines – not to mention health issues that have gradually been creeping up over the years.
That nest egg of retirement money does not go far when you have to supplement you poor health. To review the question asked earlier – how long could you last financially if you found yourself unable to work starting tonight? Add the secondary question to that one – how long could you maintain your health – or improve it – given the same situation – immediate cessation of a paycheck starting at six o’clock tonight?
Choices have consequences. Your Prosperity Professor, Red O’Laughlin
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