Health vs. Wealth: What’s More Important?

health-is-wealthMy Comments: When I took economics courses in college in the early sixties, there was a common adage when talking about politics and business that you could not, at the same, have both guns and butter. This meant that at our industrial heart, we could either produce weapons of war, or we could produce products for general consumption, but not both at the same time.

Then came Lyndon Johnson, and his Great Society. He was somehow able to fight the war in VietNam and at the same time, cause many social changes that served to improve the standard of living for those of us not fighting the war.

When I saw this headline, my first reaction was “Why can’t we have both?”. What logic dictates that it is one or the other? Then a re-read of the headline reminds me that it is only asking which is most important. I believe they are equally important, as having one most often leads to the other, regarless of their order.

By Christine DiGangi / February 6, 2014 9:00 AM

As far as self-improvement goes, personal finance and health are important to Americans — just think about how many people have New Year’s resolutions like losing weight, getting out of debt or making more homemade meals (a potential two-in-one resolution).

But if you had to choose one or the other (financial health or physical health), what would you prioritize? In an informal, online poll conducted by American Consumer Credit Counseling, nearly 59% of those surveyed said they were more concerned about the state of their finances than that of their physical fitness. A lot of people are looking at both, though: About the same portion, 60%, said their resolutions include money and health goals.

Which Comes First?

It’s not a scientific study — the Health and Wealth poll reached 243 adults — but the results might hint at what people prioritize when it comes to well-being. Money and health have an interesting relationship, because issues in one area could adversely affect the other, like the costs associated with weight-related health issues and the sometimes-expensive aspects of maintaining good health.

Fewer than 4% of respondents said they would go into debt if it would make them more physically fit, and nearly 30% said they would trade their physical fitness for a better financial situation.

Health & Credit
At times, these goals could be at odds (i.e. forgoing a gym membership to save money or being forced to go into debt to pay medical bills), but they can also work together. Like so many things, improving financial and physical health requires balancing priorities, even when life throws you for a loop.

No matter how much work you do on your finances, an unexpected or major illness can still put your financial health in peril. For example, we hear from readers all the time about how an unexpected medical bill went to collections and ruined their credit because they hadn’t budgeted for a major health expense or they didn’t see the bill coming.

The best thing you can do to prevent this from happening is to get informed about medical billing, make sure you’ve saved for a rainy day and monitor your credit. You can do this for free with the Credit Report Card, a tool that updates you two of your credit scores every month for free. Any sudden, unexpected drop in your credit scores could signal a missed medical bill, but you’d need to pull your credit reports to confirm this (you can get free copies of your credit reports once a year from each of the major credit bureaus).

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One thought on “Health vs. Wealth: What’s More Important?

  1. Matt @OvisCreative

    Good post, Tony. For me, it’s health. Health, because you won’t be earning if your body is down, causing you to be unproductive and helpless. So better take good care of your body to become wealthy and rich.

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