It’s pretty common knowledge that your financial health can impact your medical health, but the opposite is true, too. When you’re physically and mentally healthier, it saves you money—putting you in a better financial position.
In reality, there are all kinds of life hacks for improving your financial security. You can reduce your spending in big ways, such as trimming your fixed expenses, or in smaller increments through things like couponing. On the other side of your budget, you can try to bring in more income by asking your boss for a raise, taking on a side hustle or even selling your clothes for cash.
But on top of those financially savvy tips, you can also save money by adopting a healthier lifestyle. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “about 80% of chronic diseases are driven by lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise.” It recommends adjusting your dietary, physical activity, sleep and stress relief habits to reduce your risk for chronic conditions, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes and stroke. Making such changes leads to a medically and financially healthier you. Here’s how.
1. Healthy habits can lower medical bills.
Your out-of-pocket healthcare expenses can quickly add up. To start with, there’s the cost of filling your prescriptions, visiting the doctor when you’re sick or monitoring a chronic condition like heart disease. On top of that, the need for any laboratory tests or surgeries puts a further dent in your budget.
To put that into a real-world context, consider this comparison by the nonpartisan, nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation: A fully healthy family of four earning $100,000 per year with employer-sponsored health insurance already spends a significant 12% of its income—or $12,000 a year—on medical expenses. If just one family member experiences health issues, that amount goes up to about 15%, or $15,000 a year.
Eating a healthier diet, staying physically active and learning how to effectively deal with stress are all ways to minimize your need for non-preventative doctor visits and tests, which helps keep your healthcare expenses in check.
2. Healthy habits can lead to more affordable life insurance premiums.
Your age, gender and family medical history are three factors beyond your control that affect the amount of your life insurance premium. However, you can control your own health to a large degree, which is another important determinant in the price of life insurance.
The Insurance Information Institute confirms that taking good care of yourself can save you money on life insurance. Specifically, it says things like not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly all help you qualify for a more favorable rate class, which means a lower premium.
3. Being healthy means less expensive food tabs.
Another big chunk of the average person’s budget goes toward food, as much as 11.3% in 2022 according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with 5.62% spent on food at home and 5.64% on food away from home. Of the many ways to lower your household food costs, such as buying generic brands or in bulk, these ideas can also lead to a healthier you, which means an even cash-happier you:
- Avoid the junk food aisle altogether and eliminate that cost from your grocery bill.
- Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season, when they cost less and are often on sale.
- Save by cooking more and eating less restaurant food, which means you can control the ingredients and portion sizes.
- When you do eat out or order food in, opt for lower-calorie, healthier menu items and consider splitting your meal with someone else.
4. Healthy? You’ll need fewer sick days.
Employer sick leave policies vary from organization to organization based on whether they’re in the private or public sector. Policies can also be different for salaried and hourly employees. But regardless of your employer’s policy or your employment status, once you use up your allotted sick days, calling out of work with a bad cold or other ailment means you don’t get paid. That’s just one more monetary incentive to take better care of yourself.
5. A healthy lifestyle means no more wasted cash on bad habits, like smoking.
We already know that smoking can increase your life insurance premiums. In addition, the CDC says it seriously impacts your health by causing cancer, heart disease, strokes, lung diseases and other illnesses. So, smoking leads to higher healthcare costs.
And then there’s the cost of the cigarettes themselves. According to the American Lung Association, the vast majority of smokers now smoke less than 15 cigarettes a day. So, take a New York resident who smokes just 10 a day. At the average retail price of $10.45 for a pack of 20 cigarettes, they’re spending as much as $160 a month on cigarettes. This is just one example of how ditching an unhealthy habit can be a triple-win for your financial situation. Plus, replacing a bad habit with a healthy one like jogging, walking or biking (once you’ve invested in a bike) is free. And being outside in the sunshine helps your body produce vitamin D, which boosts your immune system. Another big win for your wellbeing and your pocketbook.
6. Healthy lifestyles are sometimes incentivized via employment benefits.
You might even earn a financial incentive from your employer for taking better care of your health. An increasing number of companies offer workplace wellness programs, some of which reward employees with cash prizes for completing health-related challenges or pay for gym memberships or fitness equipment.
Editor’s note: Quorum is not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this article and derives no benefit from these businesses for placement in this article.