You’re going to lose all your money if you don’t do this

Recently I was talking to my Dad who is in his 70s and I’ve noticed that as people age, they become more preoccupied with their health. In your 20s you talk about partying and sex, in your 30s its your career and possibly family, in your 40s its interest rates, finances, family, the economy. I’m not in my 50s yet, so I’ll let you know when I get there. These conversations are recurring. At every gathering one of those topics comes up. As we age, that topic invariably shifts to health. Have you ever hung out with a group of people in their 70s? Did they talk about their medications like it was a deeply detailed hobby? They know their pill counts, dosages, pros and cons of each drug. They could practically be sales reps for Glaxo Smith Kline (Fun Fact: I worked for them as an intern decades ago when they were just Glaxo).

There are countless studies and books on how fruits and vegetables are what keep you alive and healthy. They’re full of anti-oxidants, pro-biotics, immune system builders and other magical goodness. I am not going to pretend to be an expert on that subject. Do your own research, there are mountains of opinions, approaches, and methods to achieve your flavor of optimum health. My point here is that preventative medicine is usually the best and cheapest. If you reach a point where you have a chronic disease, modern medicine can pull us back from the brink for a second chance. When that happens its usually very expensive. Any American knows that healthcare is broken in the US and the best medical insurance policy is either to be very wealthy to afford medical care, or a healthy lifestyle.

The number one reason people go bankrupt in the United States is medical bills.

When you look at the lifetime savings and spending curve of most lives, wealth is accumulated into late age and then you hope that you don’t out live your money during your non working years. You spend most of your time trying to maintain what you have to live on. The greatest risk to running out of a retirement fund is medical costs.

So eating healthy and regular exercise may sound like drudgery, but think of each stalk of broccoli, and each mile walked as another dollar in your retirement plan or differed medical expense. Humans have an amazing ability to adapt. If we live in the cold long enough we get used to it and eventually accommodate. People live in Alaska and love it. The more we exercise, the easier it gets. The more you convert your diet to plant based foods, the more you get used to it. The hard part is pushing through that initial barrier of change. You have to create that habit so that it is part of your identity. Only then will it stick. But when it does, there is a huge payoff.

Ever heard of a vegetarian have a heart attack? It’s almost impossible as they just don’t put those animal fats in their blood stream. The next time you go to Chipotle, try the veggie burrito instead of the chicken one. The difference is subtle, and you won’t miss it after a while. Try a green smoothie for lunch just once a week. Walk your dog every day. You don’t have to be a crossfit ninja. Dodging a heart attack (which is the #1 cause of death in the United States) can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as your life. Just imagine saving up a nest egg of one million dollars over 30 years or more of work to have it nearly all destroyed due to surviving a heart attack in your 50s or 60s. Make that lifetime of investing count by protecting the asset you built it for, you. There’s no point in achieving financial independence if you’re going to die early.

Learn to love healthy eating.

So back to my Dad, his conversation with his doctor was naturally about his meds or the fact that he wasn’t on any which was a shock to his physician. Now Dad has smoked most of his life with efforts to quit thrown in every few years, but he’s a wood craftsman which keeps him exercising a lot. I am so very grateful that he doesn’t have any serious health problem and is having a full rich life. As a concerned son, I ask him to quit smoking and he has for some periods of time. I will keep asking. It is my way of saying ‘I love you.’

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