Financial advice and budgeting is a routine part of the way we think about wealth management. There is no magic money tree and you don’t have an infinite supply, so you have to consider how you generate it, spend it, save it, invest it and so on. Unfortunately it’s not an equal playing field. Some people do have a helping hand to begin with like inheritance, trust funds, investment into their education, a helping hand to start a business, a foot on the property ladder, a job in the family enterprise or an internship in the organisation of a family friend.
The economic environment you grow up around will shape the way you think about finance and can contribute to the way you assess risk, short term gain or long term reward and such like. There is tax to pay to contribute to the greater good of society and to help build that safety net that we all need. Some of course will do their best to avoid tax and hoard their cash like a modern day Silas Marner and potentially isolate themselves from the community at large. Some will squander the wealth they have been given as they may not understand the value of what they have never had to work for.
Some will take what they have been given and make it flourish to improve the opportunities they have and of those in their orbit, creating an environment or culture of wealth around them. Some will start with very little and make choice after choice that moves them into a different environment than where they started from. Some will be inspired by individuals showing them a different path and some will be demotivated or disincentivised by those with nefarious purposes.
External circumstances play a part. Financial crisis and disasters are ever imminent and how you mitigate and hedge against such things or what the safety net looks like influences the remainder of the journey. How you think about wealth, financial management and budgeting will influence the life options you have. How you play the game will be the life you live.
Now swap wealth for health and it’s very similar. Your genetics in part determine your starting point. The environment you grow up in, the culture you grow up around and the individuals who inspire or suppress your health goals determines your outcome. How you play the game and manage your budget determines how healthy your portfolio looks, how you will cope with the demands of life and the uncertainties it can bring.
If you are surrounded by bad choices, poor diet, no exercise, poor sleep, poor health literacy, it’s going to be harder to make a success of your health. If you have no clear sense of purpose and are easily distracted from what matters it’s going to be harder to make some gains. If you don’t take a long term view you’ll likely burnout or suffer indefinitely.
Just as with finance you need to be prudent but you also want a standard of living along the way, benefit from your hard work as well as keeping a long term view in mind.
It’s easy to get caught up in the latest financial bubble and invest everything in the latest craze and maybe it pays off but more often than not the bubble will burst. In health terms it’s jumping on the latest fad or health craze and putting all your eggs or goji berries or whatever the latest superfood is into one basket.
Solid financial advice would suggest taking your income and covering your essential expenditure such as mortgage, food, utilities etc. Set a percentage aside for your pension, a percentage so you are saving for a rainy day or emergency fund, something for a speculative investment and then some care free spending cash. Because you’ve budgeted for the essentials and you are preparing for the future you can allow yourself a slush fund to spend as you like. It’s a carefree spend. It’s the payback for your labour. It’s sprinkles life with spontaneity and you’ve budgeted for it so it’s not putting you in debt.
In health terms, I like to consider those the indulgences. If you are managing your Health Hexagon well (Sleep, Diet, Exercises, Cognitive Stimulus, Emotional load and Spiritual off-loading) then you have a buffer zone for a bit of spontaneity. A lazy afternoon on the sofa is ok provided your health plan has accounted for it in the budget. You are doing your exercise regularly and consistently. A late night is fine because typically you get a solid 8 hours a night, a sweet treat is nice every now and again because your diet is primarily fresh unprocessed food and so on.
It’s easy to allow the pendulum to swing from one extreme to the other. Be reckless with your wealth/health or overly obsessed and never allow yourself some frivolity in your life. I regularly see patients who are obsessed with their health routine to the point that it’s rigid and it’s creating anxiety. Think Silas Marner being obsessed with stockpiling money, never spending and having an isolated miserly life. Where is the quality in that? If you don’t allow yourself the occasional indulgence and to go with the flow every now and again, you’ll likely miss out on occasions and situations that ad colour to an otherwise bland existence. If you budget for it there is space for spontaneity.
Tracking every micro fluctuation in the health portfolio can be exhausting and counter-productive. Like watching your pension on a daily basis it’s probably going to stress you out more than it’s worth. It’s healthier to build a sound plan and let it roll. Yes, of course, update it every now and again as the markets dictate and your plans change but don’t let it be every waking thought. I also see patients who have no plan, no safety net and assume it’s all somehow going to work out fine. That’s not the strategy I would suggest.
What’s the tax equivalent in your health budget? I guess it’s doing the right thing for your health and making those tough choices for the greater good of society. Minimising your burden on the health service. Look after yourself and you won’t need to use the safety net so much but it’s good that it’s there. It’s essential but we’d rather not have to use the safety net if possible.
Wealth may perhaps grow indefinitely with wise and prudent financial management but your health is a depreciating asset with a finite end point you just don’t know where that is, so look after it as best you can. My view is that if you do manage your Health Hexagon you will get the return on your investment. Not only in years to life but also in life to years.