Health And Wealth For A Better New Year

32439334_sAs we end 2014 and ring in 2015, many New Year’s resolutions are in the formulation stages, the time when everything seems feasible and the future looks bright. And although I have never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, those who know me, know that I am a big fan of setting and accomplishing goals. I tell my kids that one of the biggest reasons we do not achieve the desired level of success in our lives is often due to the stories we tell ourselves. When they say they cannot do something, my line to them is, “What’s your story?”
While they roll their eyes at me, I tell them that the message I am trying to convey to them is that rationalizing as to why they cannot achieve a certain goal will never bring the level of success they deserve. I tell my kids that the answer to rationalization is self-honesty. And there is immense power in self-honesty. As a financial advisor I’ve learned to love January 1 because oftentimes it becomes the impetus for people to implement the financial advice they’ve been hearing for months. It is an opportunity for us to be honest with ourselves.
So, as you plan your vision for a better 2015, you are likely going to be setting goals around one of two facets of your life: health or wealth. Nearly everyone includes one or the other in their resolutions. My challenge to you, Cutter Family Finance readers, is to tackle both, together.
The largest expense for most retirees is their health care, and so oftentimes your health can have a huge impact on your wealth. Here are a few ways you can work on improving both.
First of all, keep a tighter budget in the grocery store. Doing so will save you money and make it easier to stick to diet plans. Buy the necessities and the occasional spices, but leave the extras on the shelves. Not only will this save you money, it will make it so you work harder to be more creative in the kitchen while keeping you away from things you don’t need. If you tighten your budget when you go grocery shopping, you will be much less prone to tossing snacks into your shopping cart. Therefore, once you are a few weeks in and any hidden snacks have been cleared from your pantry and refrigerator, you will not have any temptations lurking behind the cupboard door.
Secondly, count your pennies while you count your calories and make good choices. Keeping your budget balanced isn’t much different than keeping an eye on your calorie intake, and keeping track of one will help you keep track of the other. When you stop and take time to look over the nutritional information on those “low fat” snacks, keep an eye on the price tag too. It’s easy to consider your financial goals in line with your health interests when you think of them as two sides of the same coin. Just as you don’t want to clutter your body with all sorts of extra carbs and fats, don’t clutter your life with extras you don’t need.
Lastly, have fun. As contradictory as it may seem, it’s important to have some fun with both your budget and your diet. Leave a bit of room for the fun stuff, whether it be setting aside some money for the week or month to go to a nice restaurant for dinner, or allowing yourself dessert every Friday night. Allowing yourself to splurge occasionally will help you stick to your plan.
Keep in mind, as you bravely continue with your goals well into the year, that your physical health depends on many things in addition to watching your diet: exercise, doctor’s visits, taking prescriptions . . . Similarly, your financial health is dependent on many things in addition to cutting out unnecessary expenditures: paying down debt, saving for retirement, using sound and logical investment strategies . . .
But by limiting those unnecessary expenditures with respect to both your physical health and your financial health, one will help the other. You will see results more quickly and you will be encouraged to stick with your resolutions.
Lao-Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher and poet, once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Let’s make 2015 great. Let’s be honest with ourselves and take action. We can do this. You can do it. What’s your story?
Be vigilant and stay alert, because your deserve more.