Column, Money Matters

The health and wealth connection

By Kevin Theissen

Are good physical and financial health driven by the same fundamental psychological factors?

Many believe it’s true that people who value their future selves enough to regularly put money aside for their futures are likely to also make healthy decisions now to improve their health in the future.

This concept is supported by a study entitled, “Healthy, Wealthy and Wise: Retirement Planning Predicts Employee Health Improvements” by Timothy Gubler and Lamar Pierce of Brigham Young University.

They explained their primary question and findings of the study as: “We found that the decision to contribute to a 401(k) retirement plan predicted whether an individual acted to correct poor physical-health indicators revealed during an employer-sponsored health examination.”

They continued: “We found that existing retirement-contribution patterns and future health improvements were highly correlated. Employees who saved for the future by contributing to a 401(k) showed improvements in their abnormal blood-test results and health behaviors approximately 27% more often than noncontributors did.”

If you’ve procrastinated to save for retirement, you may want to take a look at your physical health as well. If one is off, it’s likely that the other also needs attention — similar to diet and exercise.

This idea is also supported by Dr. Talya Miron-Shatz, a medical and health decision making consultant and author, who believes that the primary personality trait might be conscientiousness. She was quoted as saying: “… those who save and take care of their health are high on the personality trait of conscientiousness… it’s the people high in conscientiousness who are tidy, don’t skip school, take their medication on time and avoid temptation in other ways, including not spending when they feel like it.”

If you believe that you are not yet one of the highly conscientious, don’t stress. It’s never too late to be more organized, aware, and actionable. Don’t try to do it all at once and rather try to improve just a little each day – continuously. Your physical health and bank accounts in retirement will thank you.

Kevin Theissen is the owner of HWC Financial in Ludlow.

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