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Financial Reasons to Prioritize Your Health

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Keeping our priorities straight is a challenge, but it’s essential to prioritize your health. Without a healthy body, everything you’re working for doesn’t mean much.

Finances and health are nearly impossible to separate. After all, health care costs money, and making money is a lot simpler when you’re healthy. You may be thinking you just don’t have time to focus on healthy habits like a balanced diet, exercise, or sleep. But you might change your mind if you consider the many financial reasons to prioritize your health. 

One study showed that medical reasons may account for two-thirds of bankruptcies in the U.S. Even if that stat is skewed, we all know that medical costs can be really tough for the average family to handle. Keeping yourself healthy can prevent a ton of extra costs. 

When we adopt healthy habits in one area of our lives, those habits tend to have a ripple effect on other areas. For example, I know when I’m exercising regularly, I’m also more likely to eat healthy foods. 

It works the same way with finances and health. When your finances are in order, it’s much easier to live a healthy life. And when you’re a fairly healthy person, following tried-and-true financial wisdom can be a lot easier to do. 

Following a healthy lifestyle has a ton of benefits, of course, but let’s focus on the financial benefits you gain by maintaining your health. 

Employers Give You Financial Reasons to Prioritize Your Health

More and more employers are beginning to recognize that healthy employees are better for business. After all, healthy employees take fewer sick days and cost the company less in health insurance costs. 

Many employers offer financial perks to those employees who adopt a healthy lifestyle. Employer health incentives are meant to inspire more healthy habits in their employees. 

Whether or not the employers actually care about the well-being of their employees or not, these financial incentives for healthy habits are a great step that more businesses should take. 

Useful Health Incentives

  • Reimbursement for gym memberships and health-related subscriptions
  • Offering an on-site fitness center or exercise classes
  • Free or discounted health coaching
  • Bonuses for being tobacco-free or quitting smoking
  • Insurance premium discounts for meeting health standards (and surcharges for those who don’t)
  • Discounts or bonuses for meeting healthy standards for BMI, blood pressure, and cholesterol
  • Discounts for submitting to yearly checkups on basic health markers like BMI, blood pressure, and cholesterol

If your employer provides some or all of these kinds of incentives, why not take advantage of them? You can save a decent amount on your insurance or receive cash bonuses or gift cards as a reward for engaging in healthier habits

Take Fewer Sick Days and Improve Your Career

It’s a pretty logical connection: people who are generally healthy don’t take as many sick days as people who get sick. So you should prioritize your health to improve your work performance and career prospects.

Now, I’m not suggesting you should never take a sick day when you’re ill. Working while sick should not be the norm for any of us. When you prioritize your health, sometimes that means staying home, getting rest, and staying away from others while contagious. 

However, taking fewer sick days is good for most people’s finances. For one thing, if you happen to work at a job where you don’t get paid unless you show up to work, sick days hurt you directly. You lose income for every day you can’t go to work due to illness. People who work in a service industry of some kind are all too familiar with this unfortunate fact. 

Adopting healthy habits may lead you to getting sick less frequently. 

Taking fewer sick days also benefits you because you can often bank your unused sick leave. I mean, I hardly missed a day in my first decade of teaching. When it came time for maternity leave, I had banked a full three months’ worth of days off. 

That meant—guess what? I still got paid while on leave. Not everyone in this country has access to paid maternity leave, so I knew that was a huge blessing. 

You can also look at a better work attendance record as showing your boss or supervisor that you’re dedicated. Faithfully showing up to work day after day helps you stand out as a hard worker, and you may see more financial bonuses or promotions as a result. 

Employers also appreciate employees who don’t chronically miss work due to illness. The CDC reported an average cost of $1,685 per employee due to productivity lost from absenteeism. 

Healthy Habits That Directly Improve Your Finances

Now, let’s talk about some of the basic habits that people can adopt to help improve both their health and their finances. 

Prioritize Your Health by Getting Enough Sleep

Most adults need between 7 and 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. But far too many of us in the busy modern world get much less than that, and it’s hurting us in a lot of ways. 

When we focus on prioritizing sleep, we gain lots of benefits. Every single one of these can impact you financially as well:

  • It’s easier to maintain focus throughout your day, leading to better productivity and fewer mistakes. 
  • Your mood improves. 
  • The risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity decreases. 
  • Your body fights off germs more effectively, preventing illness. 
  • Energy levels throughout the day are higher.  

Prioritize Your Health by Exercising Regularly

Exercise brings many of the same benefits as sufficient sleep. (Plus, when you exercise enough during the day, you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly!) 

With exercise, you can maintain a healthy body weight, build muscle tone, improve energy levels, improve your focus, and more. Each of these can make you eligible for your employer’s health incentives, as discussed above. 

Plus, exercise means you’re less at risk of developing serious diseases like cancer and heart disease. Getting plenty of physical activity can also reduce feelings of depression (mental health is also a huge part of our overall well-being). Depression can lead to a lot of missed days at work and expensive treatments, as well. 

The experts recommend adults get about 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or a combination of both). 150 minutes works out to just 30 minutes per weekday. Strength training is also recommended to keep your muscles in shape. 

Prioritize Your Health by Eating a Nutritious Diet

Healthy eating isn’t easy for us. That’s probably why so many Americans make some sort of diet-related resolution around the first of January each year. But eating a healthy diet is one of the best weapons we have against illness. 

Much like exercise and sleep, eating a variety of healthy foods filled with vitamins and nutrients offers numerous benefits. 

  • Lowered risk of Type 2 diabetes, some cancers, heart disease, obesity
  • Higher energy levels and greater ability to focus on tasks at hand
  • Better dental health (dental costs can be super-expensive!)
  • Stronger bones and muscles (meaning lower risk of injuries)

And contrary to popular belief, eating healthy doesn’t necessarily have to cost a ton more than eating junk food. We’ve all heard the complaints about how cheap fast-food burgers and fries are compared to a salad. 

But it’s absolutely possible to eat a healthy diet without breaking your budget. Just think of all the ingredients that are cheap and healthy: rice, beans, oats, frozen or canned vegetables, and more. Decreasing meat consumption is a huge factor in lowering your food bills. 

Another way to save money while prioritizing your health is to cut out the dining out. You’ll save a huge amount just by buying ingredients and making the majority of your meals at home. Restaurant markups are huge. (Of course, with the pandemic, it’s still great to order carryout to support your favorite local eateries if you can!)

Let’s add in what you drink: cut your food and drink budget drastically by drinking mainly water. Cutting out sugary drinks and excess alcohol is better for your waistline and for your wallet. That’s another great financial reason to prioritize your health. 

Finances Are Connected to Health—and Vice Versa

A 2015 survey found that most people viewed their financial and physical health as strongly linked.

81% of those who responded felt that when their finances were in good shape, their other goals became much easier to achieve. Along the same lines, 70% said that good financial health had a positive impact on their physical health. 

It’s easy to see this as true in our own lives, isn’t it? Each healthy habit motivates us to add another layer of health, and another. Maybe you start with diet, add in more aerobic exercise, and then tackle your sleep habits. Each one of these healthy lifestyle habits has an effect on your finances, whether directly or indirectly. 

Entrepreneurs are sometimes known for sacrificing aspects of their health—sleep, exercise, nutritious diet, and more—for success. But professional success doesn’t mean much if you aren’t taking care of your body. 

The financial reasons to prioritize your health should be enough to convince you to live healthier, even if health itself isn’t enough of a reward. 

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Personal Finance Writer
Kate Underwood is a personal finance writer who frequently annoys her friends and family with finance recommendations. She graduated from Wheaton College with a teaching degree. She pivoted a few years ago, leaving a longtime teaching career to pursue freelance writing, and has loved every minute of it! She’s a mom of two and in her free time enjoys all things related to nature, hiking, and The Office.

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