Healthy, wealthy, and wise….And the most important of these is, (you fill in the blank).
For me, it’s health. Those that have read my prior blog posts know I’m in that nefarious “over age 50” category. Physically, it’s true. Mentally, possibly but it’s debatable, especially If you know me! I believe being healthy deserves a closer look – it is closely tied to our financial freedom in many ways, and it deserves a post on our bank blog!
Our bank just completed a two-year health & wellness Get Fit Program. Health-conscious team captains were asked to lead employee teams that included family members. We kept track of healthy things that got our heart rate up from walking and running to playing volleyball just to name a few. Getting an annual physical (yes, men, this means you, too!), keeping a nutrition log, even coaching a child’s sport team earned us points. Our employees focused on doing healthy things hoping some of those things they did would become habits. Prizes were awarded a few weeks ago and our winning team will get some extra paid time off, cool logo wear, and the ‘bragging rights’ for this year’s event culmination.
Not only did we create new, healthier habits, we put up some pretty fantastic results too. At week 26 this year, we had 8 participants who had lost 10% of their total body weight and 4 more that lost 20% of their body weight. One employee stopped smoking, and 10 employees reduced one prescription (under physician care) previously needed due to health issues. Those are winning statistics, for me, and much more important than who won.
We will all have to seek ways to continue our healthy habits. I know the bank will support endeavors to keep this mindset at the forefront. We are generally a sedentary workforce, so any efforts can only bring positive results.
From the financial side of things, how can being healthier help? Let’s see, that former smoker is saving money they formerly spent on cigarettes, right? If they smoked 1 pack a week, that translates to $260/year in savings. If they smoked 1 pack a day, that equals $1300. It does start to add up. Similarly, the folks that were able to reduce one prescription medication as a result of being healthier gained back some financial rewards, too. I cannot analyze the numbers on that, but the facts prove the healthier lifestyle puts money back into the pockets of our employees.
As one of 80+ million Americans in the age 45-64 category (U.S. Census, 2010), health has become more important to me. Hindsight is indeed 20-20, and I only wish I had paid more attention to my health when I was younger. Now, I have to reduce weight, increase & maintain regular healthy activity, and pay much more attention to my eating habits. Had I done this as a 30-40 year old, I might be sitting differently. There are more people in my age group, 31% more according to the U.S. Census, 2010, than in 2000 and we account for more than a quarter of the US population. When our large demographic gets ill, or when we fail to take good care of ourselves, that can be detrimental in cost – of health care, to name just one.
Getting back to “just me”… I’m thinking more now about retirement and wanting to have fun when I do retire. I’m putting money into my 401(k), trying to pay down debt, preparing for ‘the teenager’s’ college expenses by contributing to a 529 plan and keeping some amount of ‘nest egg’ cash available to me for emergencies.
I look forward to both taking it easy in my “golden years” and enjoying travel time, family time, volunteer time and of course one of my favorites - future fabulous (old) girls’ trips. I won’t be able to have much of that fun if I’m overweight, tired, out of shape, and fighting more possibilities of disease that run in my family – diabetes, heart issues, cancer. Keeping myself healthier – er, getting myself healthier now can pay off for me when I get to retirement. Excuse me, I need to get up and get moving before it’s too late!