Will Rogers is credited with the statement, "I'm not as concerned about the return on my money as I am the return of my money."
Hopefully 2009 will grace us with more than a temporary respite from the downward spiral we have been experiencing.
Each of us feel the need to protect what we have and hope that the economy and the financial markets will begin the recovery process. Some of us look to making ends meet, some to having a few dollars extra, some to decreasing debt. There is the ever-present New Year's resolution to lose weight, or make some major health change. To sustain these ideas starts with small steps. Small steps to health and small steps to wealth.
Just how similar are health issues and personal finance
issues? Why am I addressing them together? Problems in both areas tend to develop gradually.
They can affect job productivity, and both the health and personal finance fields are full of technical jargon and often-conflicting advice.
When we practice healthful behaviors, it decreases our risk of dying prematurely. The flip side is that we will therefore need to accumulate adequate wealth so as to not outlive our assets.
Through my years of nutrition counseling, it's been common to talk with people wanting quick fixes - though I often find disconnects between their stated wishes and actual behavior.
Now as I help individuals with budget changes, I see the same disconnects.
When you are given larger servings of food or higher credit limits, do you take them? Do you analyze each purchase? Does your automated payroll make deposits to a savings
account to help avoid available spendable monies? I recently heard that people who have it together financially also have their homes in order. After hearing that, I spent the last few months getting things in order.
It is certainly less stressful when everything has a place and it is in that place! Good health and wealth are related in many ways. Healthy people have lower medical expenses and live longer.
As we enter the New Year, here are some small steps to consider starting.
Convert calories and spending into labor: Analyze the "cost" of eating or buying something in relation to a
related unit of time.
For decisions related to food intake, ask yourself how many hours of exercise it would take to burn off a 300-calorie dessert, for example. For spending decisions, ask yourself how many hours of work it would take to buy something. In both instances, then ask yourself if the "expense" is worth the time.
Meet yourself half way: You can eat and spend money in pleasurable ways while still improving health and finances. The trick is to decrease portion sizes or discretionary spending by a third to a half.
For example, eat one 90-calorie cookie instead of three. Ditto for spending on "discretionary" household expenses such as food, clothing and
Grocery stores help by labeling what the per-unit cost is (lower left hand corner of the shelf tag). When I realized it would cost 9 cents per wet wipe to wipe down my kitchen counter, I decided a cloth towel and spray bottle would work very well.
Small steps are less stressful and make a large difference over time. When I calculate that it costs me 7 cents in gas for every mile I drive, that is not nearly as notable as realizing that that amounts to over $1,400 a year. I can't do much with 7 cents, but I can think of many things I could do with $1,400.
I wish each of you a healthy year and a wealthy year.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 247-4355. Wendy Rice is family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.