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Integrating Your Health and Your Wealth

Integrating Your Health and Your Wealth

What do you think Gabby Douglas is up to these days? It’s hard to know since, despite her astounding gymnastic performance in the 2012 Summer Olympics, the press has long since moved on. Media attention may quickly fade, but tending to one’s well-being should last a lifetime. So I thought I’d share the results of our “Sage Strong” Global Corporate Challenge, as announced in my June 2013 post, “Sage Gets Motivated.” It also lets us revisit the timeless importance of minding our health and financial wealth in pursuit of a meaningful life. 

The “Sage Strong” Team Results

By completion of the 16-week program in September, our seven-member team had collectively:

  • Walked, cycled or swum a total of 3,995 miles
  • Burned 405,073 calories – the equivalent of 844 hamburgers
  • Doubled the number of us who are now taking on at least a half-hour of planned physical activity four or more times a week
  • Measurably increased our overall health ratings as well as our on-the-job productivity levels (Employers, take note of this one!)

In short, we felt the burn, and we liked it enough to want to keep coming back for more.

Integrating Your Health and Your Wealth

But what is this report doing on a financial advisor’s blog? I believe that health economist Jane Sarasohn-Kahn’s recent blog post title says it all: “Health is wealth and wealth, health.”

Healthier living can directly contribute to (and be affected by) one's financial bottom line. At a recent NAPFA conference I attended, health economist Sanford Barth, PhD, described a dearth of understanding surrounding expected healthcare costs during retirement, which he said can easily exceed $200,000 for a 65-year-old couple.

A prescription for addressing these costs is to tightly integrate them into one’s financial life planning. This is simple enough advice but, like daily exercise, it’s all too often overlooked. For example, does your financial planning in or leading up to retirement account for:

  • Desired retirement age
  • Current health status and life expectancy
  • Available employee healthcare benefits
  • Expected healthcare inflation
  • Integration of additional resources such as long-term care insurance, health savings accounts and, potentially, an annuity dedicated to covering healthcare costs

Once your plans are in place, are you regularly revisiting them with your advisor to ensure they remain relevant to you and your circumstances? This seems especially important in this era of heightened uncertainty accompanying the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare.

Healthy Living: A Financial No-Brainer

Dr. Barth also pointed out a financial “no brainer,” in the form of adopting a healthy lifestyle and preventive care to dramatically reduce your lifetime healthcare costs. This, in turn, can contribute to your sense of overall well-being.

This echoes Sarasohn-Kahn’s blog post as well, in which she notes: “Financial wellness is an integral component of peoples’ definition of their whole health. The Edelman Health Barometer found that 4 in 5 people cite personal financial health … as the most important aspect of health and wellness just after physical health, mental and emotional health, and physical appearance.”

In short, healthy living and healthy habits are a great start, as we discovered for ourselves during our Sage Strong program. Where you take it from there is up to you … and your financial life planner.

This post originally appeared on

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.