Its time again to start thinking about documents for your income tax and making those promises to do better this year keeping track of papers and expenses. What about those promises to eat better, lose weight and exercise? Have you thought about how your behaviors in these two areas are tightly linked and jointly affect your life?
Your wealth directly influences your health, and equally important is that your health dramatically affects your wealth. If you dont feel well, there are medical expenses, you dont eat well, stress increases and you dont want to bother with daily joys.
We know that healthy eating, physical activity and controlling stress are interrelated, but I suggest you add financial health to this , as well. How does this quadrangle affect you and your family?
For starters, compare yourself to some key benchmarks. Benchmarks help you visualize your plan and goals. When you start looking at real numbers, real improvement begins. Here are a few benchmarks for financial health:
You follow the guideline that housing mortgage or rent is 30 to 40 percent of gross income. You pay yourself first (savings) at least 5 to 10 percent; transportation is 20 percent or less; and food is 20 percent or less.
Is your monthly debt (including things such as credit cards, student loans and car loans, but excluding mortgage) less than 15 percent of your take-home pay?
You have an emergency fund (access to cash) equal to three to six months income.
You have a will in place (who will take care of your children, how you want your assets handled and by whom) that is checked every five years.
Your advance directives are in place (what you want done medically if you cant respond) and have been discussed with your family.
You review credit reports annually from each of the three credit bureaus to be sure the information is current and accurate (www.annualcreditreport.com). As a Colorado resident, you are entitled to two free reports from each annually.
Here is a fun one: Calculate your net worth benchmark annually. Multiply your age by pretax (gross) income and divide by 10. For a 37-year-old with a gross income of $50,000 that is $185,000 ($50,000 times 37 divided by 10).
Some health benchmarks require at least an annual visit to your health-care provider or local health fair. Some common health benchmarks are:
You eat at least three cups of fruits and vegetables daily.
Your blood pressure is close to 120 over 80.
Your body-mass index is close to 27.
You get at least 2½ hours weekly of moderate physical activity and twice a week some form of muscle-strengthening activity. (Rule of thumb: One minute of vigorous activity is about the same as 2 minutes of moderate activity.)
The foods you consume are nutrient-dense rather than highly processed foods or empty calorie.
Your cholesterol level is below 200 with your HDL (good cholesterol) at 60 or greater.
Your liquid intake is around 0.5 ounce per pound of body weight daily.
How close are the benchmarks to your goals? Small steps to health and wealth make big changes.
email@example.com or 247-4355. Wendy Rice is family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.