3 Ways Your Health Can Affect Your Money

#1: How Sleep Affects Your Finances

Remember those all-nighters you used to pull in college before midterms?
Science has an explanation for the wooziness you felt right before you crashed: Going without sleep for 24 or more hours makes a person perform as if they had a blood-alcohol level of 1%—.02% more than the legal limit for drunk driving.

Most likely, all-nighters aren’t your M.O. anymore, but if you’re consistently getting just four or five hours of sleep a night, your decision-making skills may not be as sharp as they could be. And that can have implications for your money.

“Lack of sleep can cause us to make many poor decisions, all leading to negative financial consequences,” says Bob Gavlak, a CFP® with Strategic Wealth Partners in Seven Hills, Ohio. “It could be as simple as buying a magazine that you don’t need at the grocery, or as big as drastically overpaying for a new car.”

#2: How Diet Affects Your Finances

Eating too many restaurant meals is a hallmark of poor nutrition—those who indulge too often have higher levels of obesity, body fat and unhealthy BMIs.

Plus, as anyone carefully tracking his expenses can attest to, dining out can also wreak havoc on your wallet. According to the USDA, a family of four eating moderately at home will spend about $245 per week on food—that’s half of what they’d shell out eating at restaurants.

And there’s more: It seems that eating high-fat restaurant meals may also affect cognitive abilities. In an Oxford University lab study, researchers found that rats eating a high-fat diet for several days showed signs of short-term memory loss and lower levels of brain function than those receiving a low-fat diet over the same period.

“There are a lot of parallels between good eating habits and good financial habits,” says Jeff Reeves, author of “The Frugal Investor’s Guide to Finding Great Stocks.” “If you don’t have the discipline to say no to junk food or count calories, you probably make a lot of impulse buys and have trouble balancing your checkbook. Self-control is the key to good financial health, as well as a healthy diet.”
How to Get Healthier “A good tip for your nutrition and finances is to plan your meals in advance,” Gavlak says. “Even if you plan to go out for a few meals during the week, it still helps prevent gut decisions to stop at a restaurant instead of eating a good, home-cooked meal.”

And feel free to take a few short-cuts if it means you’ll be motivated to maintain your healthy diet.
“Don’t feel guilty about spending a little extra money for prewashed spinach or precut carrots,” says Marguerita Cheng, a CFP® and C.E.O. of Blue Ocean Global Wealth in Rockville, Md. “If it means you eat at home and you eat better, it’s worth it.”

Bonus tip: Instead of filling up on empty calories, add more energy-boosting foods to your diet, like almonds and blueberries, so you’ll have a clear mind to tackle your financial to-dos.

#3: How Exercise Affects Your Finances

We won’t sugarcoat it. Exercising regularly is no easy feat. But skip this good-for-you habit, and you’re likely to sacrifice more than just a smaller pant size.

For starters, regular exercise results in more energy for your brain, boosting your cognitive ability and sharpening your memory. So one consequence of staying sedentary could be that you’re operating at a significant disadvantage at work, compared to your more active coworkers.

You could also be missing out on a positive attitude that could help you tackle your finances head-on. “Exercise can improve confidence, which can help people make more informed decisions and take the meaningful actions necessary to reach their goals,” Cheng says.

In fact, Cheng says she often comes up with many of her most creative ideas after attending a cardio kickboxing or Zumba fitness class.

How to Get Healthier To fully gain the health benefits from exercise, try to clock about two and a half hours of exercise each week. If you need to ease into it, make it fun by incorporating more physical activity into your daily schedule—like, say, biking to work instead of driving, or watching your favorite TV show while on the elliptical.

The upshot? You’ll start to notice the benefits of sticking to healthy habits.

“In turn, you can take that experience and apply it to your financial goals,” Gavlak says. “If you want to pay off debt, increase your savings, or be ready to retire early, you’ll need discipline to stick to a long-term plan, much like regular exercise.”

3 Ways Your Health Can Affect Your Money

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