By Amanda Morrall
Today, on my regular personal finance slot for TVOne's Good Morning show, we discussed the importance of fitness as part of one's financial plan.
We don't tend to think of money and health going hand in hand but there is a strong and growing correlation between the two. Given our ageing population, which is expected to live longer than ever, health care related expenses are set to explode. Research has found that after the age of 65, health care costs are three to four times higher than for those under 44. For those 85 and up, it's about 12 times higher. Given that a quarter of the population by 2050 will be 65 or older, health care costs for Government are going to sky rocket. Square that against the long-term costs of national superannuation, and the situation isn't pretty.
What this signals for me is an inevitable decline in the level of public health care that people have become accustomed to. It means longer waits, less subsidies, fewer choices and some tough calls by the Government and those working in the health care profession. For those that want better, it means higher health care premiums as insurers will also face undue financial pressures caused by this demographic time bomb.
So what can you do about it?
As your single greatest asset, it means looking after No.1. Staying fit and healthy will become an integral part of a sound financial plan because a) you'll probably need to work longer than your parents did and b) people in better health tend to chew up less money seeing on medical visits etc. Of course there are exceptions but this is the general trend.
My links today reflect this theme.
1) Pump up your pay
I linked to this a while back but I'm putting it out there again. Time Money reports on findings from the Journal of Labour Research that suggests those who exercise regularly earn on average 9% more than their sedentary peers. The extra pay wasn't chewed up in gym fees either.
In my upcoming book, due out in February, I dedicate a chapter to well-being. In it, I refer to research from the Centre for Well-Being (run by the New Economics Foundation in the U.K.) that looks at the components that make up well being and five positive actions that help to promote it. Guess what? Money didn't make the cut. Nic Marks, founder for the Centre for Well-Being, published a TEDbook on the subject called the "Happiness Manifesto."
In brief, they are:
1) Social relationships (quality over quantity).
2) Being active (promotes mental and physical well-being).
3 Taking notice (being more self-aware about your moods, attitudes and behaviours and how they impact on you and others).
4) Lifelong learning (not giving into old age and sitting in a rocker but remaining engaged and sharp).
5) Giving (volunteering and doing good).
3) A dog's eye view of work
I would add to the list above, a happy home life and work life. With respect to the latter, here's a very funny dog's eye view of how to make yourself happier at work from thoughtleadersllc.com. This will resonate most with dog owners I suspect but still worth a read. Nic Marks, the fellow I mentioned above is also conducting research in this area. You may wish to take his survey which aims to assess workplace happiness.
4) Pressure points
Many officials, including the Retirement Commissioner, are warning New Zealander to save more and also to gear up for the possibility of working past age 65 to keep up with living expenses and having to work longer. Age Concern outlines just where the financial pressure points will lie particularly for those who are living off on New Zealand Superannuation income alone. Some alarming numbers here.
5) Private health care
Some might take issue with it however the public health care model (in its current form) offers a pretty high standard of care. As a result many New Zealanders prefer to go without private health care insurance. How much does it cost and how much do you need? The FSC has a new calculator on its website to help you figure this out. Financial advisor Liz Koh, who also blogged on this subject recently, suggesting those on private health care plans increase their excess to lower the premiums. Instead of spending the difference, she suggests you bank it to build up your own health care emergency fund for later in life.
To read other Take Fives by Amanda Morrall click here. You can also follow Amanda on Twitter @amandamorrall