When we think of investment we might think of stocks, housing or high interest accounts. Something we do not often consider is an investment in our own health and well-being. Investing into your health can seem confusing as it is difficult to see the return on your money. Money spent on your health is not wasted and is likely to provide an even greater return on your initial investment than many other investment options.
What do I mean by investing in your health?
This could be buying better food, gym equipment/membership, training services, regular dental check-ups or even seeing a psychologist (mental health is just as important as physical!). As an example this could be spending $100 a week in order to get the best food you can instead of spending $50 a week on average food. Read here about eating healthy on a budget. Another example is spending $1000 each year on a home gym that will give you a huge range of exercise gear and most of it will last a lifetime. Read here about making a cheap home gym!
What is the return on investment?
This is where the hard part comes in. How do we track the return on investment for your hard earned money invested into your health?
Many of the benefits of investing in your health come from what costs they help you avoid. Living a healthy lifestyle is a proven way to reduce your risk of almost every major disease. Heart disease, diabetes and cancer are just some examples of chronic and debilitating illnesses that cost the individual as well as society at large huge amounts of money every year.
Let’s take a look at heart disease as just one example; there are many other chronic diseases that cost us just as much. The average heart attack in Australia ends up costing $250,000+ as an overall figure. The vast majority of heart attacks can be delayed or avoided entirely through eating better food and exercising regularly.
This is just the financial part, it goes without saying that avoiding these chronic illnesses is also investing in not having to deal with potential death or long term suffering that is involved. Nobody likes to be unwell, and having chronic illnesses almost always reduces our life satisfaction, if not our lifespan. Most of us would pay what it takes to heal ourselves after we fall ill, but very few are willing to part with money to help avoid the situation in the first place.
Living a healthy lifestyle gives us more energy and more ability to perform at our best every day. Being able to perform better means we will have higher productivity and in turn enable us to earn more money. This could mean 10's of thousands more in your yearly salary, more than enough to offset the comparatively small amounts you have invested to ensure your good health.
How can I invest in my health?
The most useful investment in your health is good food, followed by equipment or memberships that allow you to do the exercise you enjoy. Healthy food is not as expensive as people make it out to be, and often you can get healthy food for almost the same cost as unhealthy foods. Likewise with exercise equipment, there is no need to spend huge sums of money on it, a little bit of money goes a long way.
Consider your health as a monetary priority, not something that is left as an afterthought. Seeing a dentist might cost you $100 now, but that check-up every few years will likely save you thousands in the long run. A psychologist could help you overcome some issues that are holding you back from excelling in your field and crippling your ability to earn more money. The short term cost of this service will likely be outweighed by your resulting increase of life satisfaction and productivity. This goes for any healthcare service that is provided. Consider how much poor health will cost you and not just how much good health will cost you, often it is far more.
Gym equipment and fees can be expensive and I think home gyms are a better cost long term, but don’t be deterred from the fees of a gym. They are often good value for what you get especially if gym classes are included. If you enjoy cycling then get a reasonable quality bike that will allow you to enjoy your riding, if you run get some decent running shoes and so on. If you need some guidance on weight training then ask a personal trainer to help you out for a while to ensure you are doing everything right. Be smart about how much you are spending but don’t avoid spending it if it is enabling you to enjoy exercise.
An example of how much I spend on food
Now my food list for the week is quite a big one, I am very active and eat a good amount of food. I generally eat a large amount of organic vegetables, a small amount of organic meats and a few store bought goods. Overall my diet would seem very expensive but when added up it comes to about $100-$150 each week.
What do I get for that much money? Here is a list of everything I purchased last week costing me around $120. All listed vegetables are organic from farmers markets:
This may seem a little or a lot of money depending on which view you take, but keep in mind the median income is around $60,000 with many people earning far more. Lets say you are left with $45,000 after tax, this means that only 10-15% of your after tax income is dedicated to food. To only spend 10-15% of your income on the best food money can buy would be the envy of many of our ancestors.
We will happily buy a new car, a new TV or a new iphone and then scoff at the idea of paying $100 a week for fresh fruit and vegetables. The money you put towards your health and well-being will always save you far more in the long run, in both money and the ability to live a longer, happier life. I can’t give you a dollar figure on your return on investment, but I can assure you that money invested in your health is money well spent.
What do you do to invest in your health?