Does Wealth = Health?
They say money can’t buy happiness. And the Beatles told us that money can’t buy them love. (And they had lots of money, which doesn’t bode well for the rich and single…)
But a new study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine suggests that even having a rudimentary financial education can lead to better health.
The study consisted of 345 low-income single mothers. Some were given financial education and coaching. Others were not.
The results showed that not only did the women who received the education have less financial pressure than the control group but they also smoked less, slept better, saw the doctor more frequently and enjoyed lower stress in relationships than those who did not receive coaching.
There are countless studies that show lower income tends to lead to worse health. There are plenty of reasons for this, including the lack of healthy foods in low-income areas, not seeking early medical treatment due to costs, greater stress, etc.
Today, we asked my daughter to pick up a few things at the supermarket. When she walked in the door, she said, “Organic fruit is expensive!”
We’re very fortunate that we can afford to buy lots of fresh produce, belong to a gym and visit the doctor when we need to.
But I’ve also seen how the cost of healthcare can literally mean life or death.
A close family member fell very ill a few years ago. Fortunately, she had long-term care insurance. That paid for a live-in aide who helped nurse her back to health. Had she not been able to afford the aide, she would have likely been in some facility that would not have provided anything close to the same level of care. I’m fairly certain she wouldn’t have made it.
Healthcare Gets Expensive – Here’s How to Cut Your Costs
We know that healthcare costs soar as we get older.
According to Fidelity, an average 65-year-old couple will spend more than $300,000 in out-of-pocket healthcare costs in retirement.
So on top of retirees and pre-retirees needing funds to pay for their housing, food and other expenses, they need a chunk of change set aside for when they fall ill.
Here are a few ways to lower your healthcare costs and increase your income so that you don’t wind up unable to afford healthcare or are so stressed about finances that it leads to you getting sick.
Get healthy. It’s common sense, but not enough people do it. Eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep will have you feeling better, and it’s cheaper.
Cooking at home with fresh produce is a lot more affordable and healthier than going out.
Furthermore, if you can stay out of the hospital or avoid countless doctor visits, it will save you a bundle.
Shop around for medication. Just because the CVS or Walgreens on the corner is convenient, it doesn’t mean you’re getting the best deal. There are free apps and services that can help you save a lot of money on your medicine.
Invest, invest and invest. Did I mention you should invest? You need your money to grow and to continue growing as you get up there in age. As we’re currently seeing, prices can inflate. You need your money to increase in value along with prices.
My favorite way to keep up with inflation is investing in Perpetual Dividend Raisers. These are stocks that pay a dividend and raise it every year. They tend to be more conservative stocks, outperform the market and, importantly, generate more income for you every year so you can afford the higher rates of Dr. Sawbones.
Use a health savings account (HSA) if it’s available. An HSA is similar to a 401(k) in that you can put money away pretax (which lowers your taxable income so you pay less tax). Best of all, if you invest the funds, they’ll grow tax-free if you use them for healthcare expenses. If you don’t, you’ll pay penalties.
You don’t have to wait for retirement to use the money. You can tap it anytime you have a healthcare expense. But the longer you let the money grow, the better. And since you’ll likely have six-figure healthcare costs in retirement, try to keep the money invested for as long as possible.
Note that in order to contribute to an HSA, you must not be enrolled in Medicare. HSAs are usually accessed through an employer.
If you want to see the best doctors – or at least not the worst ones – you’ll need some money to pay for it.
More money leads to better health outcomes. Take the steps now – both lifestyle and financial – to protect your health later in life.
P.S. I hope you all have a meaningful Memorial Day as we reflect on those who gave their lives to protect our nation as well as their loved ones who miss them dearly.