Money and Health: A Tale of Two Treasures

The quest for wealth and well-being is a universal pursuit, with money and health often cited as the two most valuable treasures in life.

A Thought: by Dr. Jesse Greer.


The quest for wealth and well-being is a universal pursuit, with money and health often cited as the two most valuable treasures in life. At first glance, although both are obviously vital for our quality of life, the two aspects seem unrelated; one being found within us and one forming an external support system. Some might feel they excel only in one area or the other, as if such differing aspects of life must require completely different skill sets to nurture their success. But the more I think about it, the closer these two pursuits feel, and I wonder if looking at one’s health through the lens of something we are vastly more familiar with, such as financial well-being, might be a way to more clearly understand how to manage it.


For a moment, let’s see your life as a bank balance. Both your money and your health require consistent, life-long attention and maintenance to ensure adequate reserves are available for your well-being, however long you live. And, just as financial investments can lead to exponential growth, adopting healthy habits early in life can have a similar compounding effect, and yield long-term benefits for our overall well-being.


Most of us must rely on the experts to guide us in both areas – and accept the associated outcomes of risk. Doctors and financial advisors provide specialized knowledge and guidance, hopefully enabling us to do the very best that we can with the tools available to us. The biggest caveat, however, is that if our human guides make mistakes, it's the individual who must bear the consequences. So, as much as we may wish to leave it all up to the experts, abdicating personal responsibility is the road to all sorts of future problems in both camps. We have to pay attention. We have to own it. And, just to make it even harder, in the case of both our wealth and our health, the problems we face might have started before we were born... Parents can significantly impact their children's financial and health outcomes through the habits, genes and values they impart – and we have no choice but to work with the cards we’re dealt and the situations we were born into. This is all in our own hands.


So far, so similar. But, if I dig deeper into the two, a chasm between their similarities begins to widen – and it worries me. Firstly, financial planning and education often start at a young age, preparing us for the future and setting good systems in place. And, if things go wrong, financial setbacks can be resolved or buffered with measures like bankruptcy and borrowing. But, in direct contrast to this, education around health doesn’t start early, nor is our performance tracked. Health monitoring and preventive care in modern medicine usually begin only when problems and disease arise, and yet, unlike bank loans, poor health cannot be instantly restored, and irreversible damage may occur. We cannot borrow our health from others.


Why are we so conscious of our financial health from an early age, and so aware of its ability to improve or degrade, and yet so uninvested in the same measurements of our health?


I look at these two vital pursuits and contemplate the power of them both. Could we not see their part in our lives from a similar point of view – with longevity in mind? Money and health are undeniably intertwined, with striking similarities and crucial differences. But my experience in medicine also highlights an angle that perhaps not everyone gets to see when balancing the importance of both: While a rich person may desire many things, a sick person longs for just one – health. Health is invaluable, and I’ve never met a sick and wealthy individual who wouldn’t trade their fortune for good health.


Our pursuit of both wealth and well-being may appear as separate objectives, but they are equally crucial for a fulfilling life. Good health serves as the foundation for all other aspects of our lives, including our financial prosperity, as we strive for the right balance of duration and quality of life. Therefore, we must prioritize our well-being and invest in our health with the same dedication as we would for our financial future. By adopting healthy habits early on, we can secure a brighter and more prosperous future for ourselves and those we care about. It's important to remember that while wealth can bring us many things, good health is invaluable.


How does your health stack up against your wealth?