Well if you hadn’t heard about Baker and Man Vs Debt then you probably aren’t involved in social media. He is probably one of the most popular topics right now in regards to personal finance in social media. He is doing a great job with his blog, that I believe he said is just over six months old. The reason I’m telling you this is not only because, from the comments I’ve been reading, he’s been affecting a lot of people’s lives but also because he is the inspiration behind this post. Before I continue, go read Would You Rather Be Fat or In Debt? It is a great post and there is a lot to learn from all the comments he’s collected.
So as I read his post I couldn’t help but think about financial independence. For me financial independence means maximizing choices and minimizing risk and loss. What most people might consider the biggest factor (I don’t) in your financial independence is how much money you have for retirement. The three main factors for this are the amount you invest, time and rate of return.
What about your health independence?
Is there such a think? There is now. So your health independence would be maximizing choices and minimizing risk and loss. You want to be able to choose to do what you want to do. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of people out there that don’t get around well. I don’t just mean old people but younger ones as well that have difficulty with mobility. Their choices are limited by their health. You also need to minimize risk and loss. This is a little more self explanatory and is about controlling the bad things that being unhealthy can lead to such as health issues and costs, illness, disease and death, to name a few. I’m sure you can think of or might have experienced more.
The main way people determine how healthy they are seems to be based on three factors: diet, exercise and weight. Now something might jump out at you right away as it did me. You only really control two of these factors, diet and exercise. The third, weight, is determined by an outside force. This relates to the factors for money. Two of which you can control (amount invested and time) and then a third that is determined by an outside force (rate of return).
Why do people seem to fixate on the two things they can’t control the most?
Weight and rate of return are just numbers. By themselves they mean nothing but are most commonly used as a frame of reference. Think about it. Just because two people weigh 200 lbs doesn’t determine how healthy they are. One could be grossly obese while the other could be extremely thin and malnutritioned. The number by itself means absolutely nothing, just as rate of return does. Just because someone is getting a 10% rate of return doesn’t determine their wealth. You might work hard to try and figure out how to have some control over these numbers but in the end it’s probably more of an illusion.
At any time it seems as though the stock market can go up down or any which way. I think we’ve all experienced that. How many people have experienced this with their weight? I actually have experienced that recently as well. Over the last few months I’ve lost 20 lbs or so and I wasn’t even trying. I have exercised about the same and didn’t consciously change my eating habits. I think I just decided that I wanted to weigh closer to 200 lbs. At first I was started to worry a bit but since my weight has leveled out. I’ll just keep an eye on it.
To give you some background, my highest weight was around 245 lbs give or take. This was when I played football in college and was during the winter. I didn’t once consider myself fat. I was putting on muscle at the time, that was my goal. The opposite might have been my senior year of college when I was trying to keep my weight down during the football season in an attempt to be faster. Since college, I’ve consistently weighed around 220 lbs give or take, until now.
Do these numbers mean anything to you?
What if I told you I got a 10% rate or return? In 2008 you would have thought I was God but in 2009 you would feel bad for me. I just gave you a bunch of numbers about my weight but you get no real context without knowing me and my situation. You can’t determine how healthy I am from my weight alone. Just like you can’t determine someone’s wealth from the rate of return they get. Stop chasing a number.
The numbers will come.
It’s Field of Dreams all over, “if you build it they will come”. Think of the movie. He went against what people said, the popular way of doing things and even went against his family’s wishes a bit but I think it was worth it for him in the end. It’s hard to change but once you do things get easier. Make it a habit to just eat a bit healthier. Start by cutting out excess eating or spending and fatty foods or luxury items. Then start exercising. Maybe you go for a walk or open a savings account. When the time is right talk with a personal trainer or a financial planner. The best part is if you start exercising NOW and your start saving NOW you really don’t have to be quite as picky with your eating or save quite as much. It will definitely help if you do but it’s not as detrimental. What are you going to change today?