Written by Joe Daniel, CPA

Your health is your greatest retirement asset, so invest now!

Have you ever had a thought pop into your head that seemed so revolutionary and new, but it’s actually a pretty basic concept? Well, that was me when I thought about investing in health in relation to investing for retirement. Why do we have a fundamental understanding of the power of time and compound interest when it comes to investing money for retirement, but we can’t comprehend that investing in our health is the same?

Think of it this way: We know that someone who begins saving at age 20 will have more money in retirement than someone who starts saving the same amount at age 30. So, it makes sense that someone who began prioritizing their health at age 20 will be healthier later in life than someone who started at age 30.

It’s never too late

Imagine you’re 30 years old. Instead of saving in your 20s, you paid off student loans, got married, started a family, bought a house, and patiently worked your way up from the bottom in your career. When you finally can save for retirement (note the recommended move is to prioritize saving for your future despite all those other factors), would you say, “All my friends who started when they were 20 are so much further along than I am, so there’s no point in starting now.”?

OF COURSE NOT!!! That would be a crazy thing to say. You would start saving immediately.

So why do we consistently sabotage our future health because we “missed the boat”? You might think it’s already too late to see transformative results because you’re so far behind. Some of the common excuses people give include:

  • “bad” genetics
  • spending your college years pigging out in the dining hall, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, and eating more processed meals than you’d care to admit
  • focused on your career, so health took a backseat
  • started a family, which took up all your time,

But all these things are part of life. They’re important in shaping who we are, but they cannot be an excuse for sacrificing your health in the future. Even if you’re just starting now, each healthy habit is an investment that will compound over time.

Practice moderation

With all of this in mind, you don’t need to do a complete 180! While that may work for some people, it would be equivalent to saving all your money for retirement instead of taking a vacation, buying a nice gift for a loved one, or donating to charity. All of these things are pit stops on your financial journey. Do you ever regret them and beat yourself up over them? No. You feel good about the experience and know that it doesn’t completely knock you off a retirement saving plan.

You should say the same about indulging in your family’s favorite desserts, or having second helpings of your favorite holiday meal, or sleeping in one day instead of going to the gym. As long as you practice moderation in health and don’t spend beyond your means financially, these pit stops on our health and financial journeys should be savored and appreciated. We can course-correct and ensure we spend the majority of time and money on doing the right things for our future health and wealth.

Think of your health and financial journey as a long road trip. If you miss an exit, would you keep going in the wrong direction because you “messed up” this one time? Nope. You’d turn around as quickly as possible and get right back on track to your final destination. Bouncing back from detours on your health and financial journeys is no different.

Investing in your health takes the same amount of patience, discipline, and ability to course correct that investing for retirement does. I think it’s time everyone has the same mindset about their future health that they do about their future wealth!

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