It should no longer be a surprise that being healthy is costly. The practice of meditation can cost upwards of $20 per hour. Gyms can cost near $75 per month. Nutrition ranges but likely averages $75 per week per individual. Seeking a counsellor or life coach can cost close to $200 per hour. Feeding your stress with fast food, drinking, and smoking is also costly. Not to mention the ample amounts of dollars spent on medications, vitamins and other supplements. Being healthy is not just a mental, physical and spiritual feat, it is also a financial feat.
Being unemployed has provided me with a new insight on finances. I have always been good with my money yet I like to splurge, often. I spend a lot on random things: books, electronics, water bottles, shoes, sporting equipment, stationary, pens and the list can go on and on. Often times I get the urge to spend on something, anything. It is those moments that hurt my bank account the most because spending $5 or $10 just does not feel like enough – it needs to be a BIG purchase!
However I have had to step back a little lately. Question and debate each purchases value. I think about things like how will it make me happy (because I think a large part of spending is to bring materialistic happiness), how long will it last, and does it fit with the theme of my being at the time. For example, I just purchased a new pair of headphones. I easily could have not purchased headphones or purchased ones that were half the price if not a quarter of the price. But I am in this theme right now about doing everything possible to make my days at the gym more entertaining, exciting and to keep myself motivated and inspired to continue along the “get ripped” journey I am on. It is not easy eating well, going to the gym, studying smart, and still being a social individual so I find pleasure where I can (in spending money on materialistic things). This brings me to the main point of this post.
We are often taught at a young age to financially plan for our futures. Likely (in Canada) our parents created Registered Education Savings Plans for us when we were first born. As you get your first job you are taught to put x-percentage away in savings for “rainy days”. Then money is put aside for academic fees cause the cost of educating yourself is continuously rising and many are spending more years in university than previously. As you settle into more permanent employment you begin to plan for retirement. You may even put money away for vacations, have a separate account for basic needs like rent and groceries, and I have even heard of people saving to purchase BIG items (that is beyond my banking abilities). But do you put x-percentage of your income away for your own health? I never have before and it is something I recently started doing.
Every week I put the same amount into a new and separate savings account that is allocated to moving from health 2 healthy. More than what the money is used for the part that excites me is that I know exactly how much I have to dedicate to things like a personal trainer, new runners, nutrition planning and groceries, and the fun materialistic things like workout clothing and headphones. For me the simple task of setting aside money for my health has made it easier to focus on the actual getting healthy component. The interesting thing to me was that the financial advisor I sought out (who has been working in the industry for just about as long as I have been alive) has never heard of someone wanting to open up an account for health related costs expect for those individuals who separate their medication costs from the rest of their spending. I was a little surprised and yet not surprised at all. It only highlighted that we are not taught that our health is a priority that likely costs the greatest of our spending.
Thus, I encourage each of you to think about how you are financially planning. Question if you are saving for today or tomorrow and if you are saving for tomorrow what are you doing today to help your probability of making it to tomorrow? Our health needs to be cared for in the present so all the money you may have stashed away to pay for medical bills during your retirement could perhaps be used today to promote a healthy life and thus limiting its financial value in the future. Please do not get me wrong, I believe it is critical to save for the future but what I want to get across is do not forget to save for the present. Your health deserves the same financial treatment as your closet does!