Each year we set resolutions, goals, intentions or affirmations to ultimately become a better version of ourselves. Getting healthy and saving money are the top new year goals for millions of people every time the earth completes one revolution around the sun. The reasons for setting these goals are simple: we want to feel better, live longer and worry less about money. Unfortunately, very few of us actually stick to the plan. Statistically, 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February. For many, the motivation to keep working toward our healthy resolutions is lost after a night out with friends. For others, saving money becomes difficult after the first unexpected flat tire.
But your physical and financial health are more closely tied than you may realize. For example, overweight and obese people spend on average almost $10,000 more on healthcare each year than people with a healthy BMI. Weight gain puts you at risk for a bevy of medical problems including conditions that require costly, ongoing treatments such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Out-of-pocket expenses can quickly add up for people with serious health concerns. In fact, medical debt accounts for anywhere from 25-50% of U.S. bankruptcy filings. That said, sticking to your healthy resolutions can actually save you money. When you feel ready to give up on your healthy resolutions, consider a life where you wake up feeling better than usual and live worry-free of medical bills.
In the last decade, cigarette smoking has declined by more than 5%. While more Americans seem to be getting the message that smoking is the worst possible thing you can do to your body, as we move into 2020 nearly 38 million American adults continue to smoke.
Smoking affects every part of your body leading to a wealth of health problems. In fact, smoking has such a negative effect on your body that the law allows health insurance companies to charge up to 50% more than non-smokers through a tobacco surcharge. Tobacco smoke:
- Raises blood pressure
- Reduces good cholesterol (HDL)
- Damages your blood vessels
Additionally, smoking harms the health of those around you. Have kids? Well, lighting up around your little ones can lead to them developing ear infections, asthma or other breathing complications. Depending on your health insurance, each trip to the hospital and prescribed medications may lead to out-of-pocket expenses. For example, treatment for asthma carries a medical cost of about $3,266.
Beyond medical bills, buying cigarettes also turns a nice chunk of your discretionary income to ash. For example, if you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day and pay $10 per pack, sticking to your 2020 resolution to quit smoking could save you:
- $70 a week
- $300 a month
- $3,650 a year
- $18,250 after five years
- $36,500 after 10 years
Despite its prevalence in American society, nearly 100,000 people die annually from alcohol-related causes. The effects of alcohol on the human body are significant and should be taken seriously by anyone setting healthy resolutions for 2020.
A study from the University of Maryland showed that alcohol weakens the immune system temporarily. The more you drink, the less immunity you will have to sickness. Additionally, alcohol can worsen any existing illnesses you may already have.
A 2016 study shows a strong correlation between alcohol being linked to 10 different types of cancer. Cancer treatments can balloon up six figures and is a major contributor to medical debt. Additionally, prolonged alcohol abuse can contribute to permanent amnesia, seizures, and other brain disorders.
Finally, drinking and driving can lead to arrests that cost tens of thousands in fees and fines. Alcohol also puts you and others on the road at risk for crashes that can lead to costly medical bills.
Get More Active
Many people view the New Year as a chance to make physical activity a piece of their day to day routine. Although sticking to an exercise routine is challenging, it can also be rewarding to both your physical and financial well being. Whether you commit to the local gym or to walking with your spouse every night after dinner, getting your heart pumping lessens the chances of cardiovascular disease.
Although gym memberships or purchasing new running shoes that fit comfortably carry some upfront costs, in the long run, choosing to take care of your body can actually save you money. A 2012 study found that those who are inactive with no limiting health conditions spend an annual average of $9,419 more on healthcare than those who are moderate to vigorously active.
Physical inactivity is a major contributor to the world’s leading killer, heart disease. Heart disease accounts for more than 375,000 American deaths each year. It is also one of the most costly diseases in the U.S. For example, in 2016, heart disease cost around $555 billion, with an average cost of $15,000-$20,000 per patient. Fortunately, the disease is largely preventable. By sticking to your daily workouts, you can reduce your chances of developing heart disease and keep your wallet’s financial health intact.
Even if you can’t afford a gym membership, taking a brisk walk 5 days a week for 30 minutes can keep your heart healthy and stave off costly medical expenses.
Eat Better and Meal Prep
The combination of a healthy economy and busy schedules make cooking at home less of a priority. And there is no shortage of fast-food chains ready to feed you and your family with value meals. Falling into the convenience of quick-serve restaurants is a hard habit to break. You may even tell yourself that eating healthy is more expensive. However, eating healthy isn’t as costly of an expense as you may believe. In fact, according to research from the Harvard School of Public Health, a healthy diet costs only $1.50 more than even the most unhealthy diet. This is a small price to pay for ensuring that your body is getting the nutrition it needs.
Eating greasy foods leads to issues ranging from gut bacteria imbalances to heart disease. Certain foods cause the body to make too much cholesterol. When cholesterol combines with fat and calcium in the blood it forms plaque. Plaque buildup in the arteries leads to atherosclerosis which can lead to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
However, by sticking to your resolution to meal prep for the week, you set yourself up to successfully establish healthy eating habits that can cut back on cholesterol levels. The average American household spends more than $3,000 a year dining out—a majority of which is unintentional dining out. When you meal prep, you will save money by eating food that you have already purchased in your home. Additionally, you will not need the convenience of strategically placed fast-food chains on your route home because you’ve already got breakfast, lunch, and dinner waiting for you.
Sticking to your meal prepping resolution saves you money in two ways:
- Cutting down the amount you spend on eating out.
- Slowing down or halting unhealthy foods reacting negatively in your body and the resulting medical bills.
Weight loss goes hand in hand with eating healthy and increasing physical activity. As such, it is one of the leading New Year’s Resolutions set each year. We all know that obesity contributes to an array of health conditions. But did you know that obesity also contributes to financial loss beyond the medical expenses incurred from doctor’s visits? Obese Americans miss work more often than colleagues with a healthy BMI. In fact, researchers found that obesity costs the U.S. economy about $8 billion a year.
One study found that the costs for time away from work costs overweight and obese Americans between $108 to $1,857. If eating healthy and exercise doesn’t seem to be working for you, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your concerns.
Embrace your healthy resolutions by remembering your health and finances are closely related. Reach your weight loss goals this year by eating right and incorporating more physical activity into your daily routine.
Visit your Doctor
This may seem like an out of the box resolution, but nearly half of U.S. adults fail to visit their primary care doctor for an annual checkup. Incorporating doctor’s visits into your healthy resolutions is crucial to financial wellness. Visiting your doctor at least once a year should always be a goal. The annual physical, well-woman and well-child exams are intended to screen for the early signs of ailments that can lead to costly medical bills down the line. The earlier a disease or other condition is caught, the easier and less expensive it is to treat.
The Carlson Law Firm
Your physical health is closely tied to setting yourself up for financial success in 2020 and beyond. Be it healthy resolutions or financial resolutions, the New Year is the perfect time to hit the reset button. If you are currently dealing with serious debt, filing bankruptcy may give you the fresh financial start that you are looking for.
Whether you are looking to file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, there is no substitute for professional experience. The Carlson Law Firm has an experienced, award-winning bankruptcy attorney who can help you navigate the bankruptcy process to give you the fresh start you deserve. Contact The Carlson Law Firm to discuss your case and find out if bankruptcy is the right option for you.