We’ve all heard the saying “Health is wealth”. While many would think this adage means staying healthy is already a treasure, it also means good health leads to financial security. One of the keys to a wealthy and productive retirement is indeed staying healthy and fit. Not only will staying healthy give you more retirement years, it will also give you the financial capability to enjoy it. Here are the key points and actions to show why healthier indeed means wealthier.
Insure Your Future
How important is health when it comes to retirement? Majority of today’s American workers believe that staying healthy can help you save on health care costs and lead to financial security during retirement. In fact, a survey sponsored by Principal Financial showed that 84% of respondents said being physically healthy is good for their financial future, while 76% prefer spending time and money on their health today to avoid major health costs during retirement. Americans without health insurance have a higher chance of experiencing a financial catastrophe. There are workers who are guilty of working past their desired retirement age just for the health benefits, knowing that they will not be able to afford their health care costs if they retire.
Since past the age of 50 there are higher health risks, a serious health condition can eat up the majority of one’s assets. This means that some are at risk of losing their entire retirement savings because of medical expenses. For example, a heart attack has immediate costs, including diagnostic tests, hospital charges and possible surgery. Long-term maintenance after a heart attack includes maintenance drugs, regular testing and monthly cardiologist appointments. There are also indirect costs, including lost productivity, if experienced before retirement. It will also take several months before you are allowed to work. If after retirement, this will mean no active source of income while paying for your medical costs. Imagine working your whole life and then spending your savings on health risks you acquired while working. One should also take into consideration that insurance rates are lower for those who live a healthy lifestyle.
Did you know that 4 out of 5 retirees claim to spend more on health care than they expected before retiring? Among those, 43% spend more than $5,000 annually and 14% spend more than $10,000, according to the study Health, Wealth and Happiness in Retirement, published by MassMutual. Another research showed that there are those who retire early due to a major health concern. Retiring healthy has more benefits – a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 20% of the healthiest retirees in their fifties had three times the assets of the least healthy. This means they are able to enjoy their retirement years more. You also have a better quality of life by retiring healthy – instead of giving out bucket loads of money on hospital bills, you can spend your hard-earned money on traveling the world.
The six major illnesses that retirees encounter include: diabetes, cancer, lung disease, stroke, heart problems and psychiatric problems. These are commonly known as degenerative diseases or lifestyle-acquired conditions based on how you live out your working years. These diseases may take years to manifest but health risks continue to rise if one does not acquire a healthy lifestyle. Many businesses nowadays offer financial incentives to employees who prioritize their health while working. Employers recognize that a healthy employee can be more productive. They will miss fewer days due to sickness. They can work longer and harder. In fact, countries with a better health care system and a healthier workforce are generally richer and grow faster. Living a healthy lifestyle may sound very expensive given the cheap alternatives of processed food. The average cost of a 2,000 calories diet in America is around $4.00 for junk food and around $40.00 for healthy food. Eating healthy does cost more, but considering that heart disease caused by junk food can drain your budget (and not to mention be life threatening), it is worth the money. This is a good example of delayed gratification where workers may appear to sacrifice during their early days to enjoy more reward during their retirement.
It is important that while you have an active source of income, you should also be physically active. Develop a routine of regular physical activity that you can do even during retirement. Active retirees have better strength and agility, and are less prone to accidents such as falling. It also lowers the risk for any psychological problems, such as depression, because physical activity improves mood and energy. Aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week, especially as you grow older.
Health does lead to wealth, especially in our twilight years. Many people spend their working days building up their wealth while ignoring their health. Real freedom during your retirement years means having good health, enough savings, and plenty of time. Never sacrifice one for the other.
Have your retirement years be healthy, wealthy and filled with joy!