Everyone talks about financial freedom. Being rich can mean doing whatever you want, whenever you want, and wherever you want. However, what does it mean to be financially healthy?
Financially healthy to me means that you can:
- Afford the basics like food, shelter, and water without stress or anxiety
- Eat the foods that you want in order to build and sustain a healthy lifestyle (i.e. organic foods and non-fast food)
- See a doctor whenever you need to, without worrying if you can afford to pay the co-pay or medical tests. Pay for necessary vitamins, supplements, or medications, without foregoing them to pay the mortgage
- Obtain comfortable measures for long-term care and have sufficient funds for funeral expenses without burdening other family members
When you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck and going into debt each month, you are NOT financially healthy. If there was an emergency, you could not afford it. I am a risk-adverse person and usually try to think of that 1% situation.
There is a big misunderstanding of the definition of needs versus wants. I know people who would choose to pay for luxuries like cable, but then say that they don’t have money for their blood pressure medication, to go to the dentist to fix a tooth, or to get eyeglasses with the correct prescription. These are medical necessities that should be prioritized over cable, a leased luxury car, or vacation with friends. If you are foregoing medical needs, you are both physically and mentally in bad financial health.
What about unexpected medical expenses? Many of us probably don’t expect to have a stroke, survive, and then are wheelchair bound. This happened to my very active maternal grandmother who had been living on her own until she was 70 years old. Right up until the year before her stroke, she could walk up the New York City subway stairs faster than my mother, my brothers, and me by a good three minutes. Despite our health in our youth, we should all save and get the proper insurance to comfortably cover those expenses should the unfortunate circumstances occur.
Now, let’s talk about the one thing that’s certain in life – we will all pass away one day. No one, regardless of wealth, can escape this. If we all know this, then why do many of us not plan in advance for this? I have heard many personal stories where lack of money was a big issue for a family member’s funeral. Hearing these stories makes my heart heavy for the burden it causes the family.
These stories include:
- Funeral was postponed for almost two weeks because there wasn’t enough money and they kept passing around a “collections hat” until they raised enough money from family and friends to pay for the funeral.
- Daughter-in-law had to withdraw over $8,000 from her own savings to help pay for estranged father-in-law’s funeral expenses.
- Adult child had to take on credit card debt to pay for parent’s funeral expenses.
Please take the steps to be financially healthy – make sure you are covering the day-to-day life as well as planning for the longer-term, bigger picture.