The last two years, my word of the year was “Simplify”. Yes, it did take me two years (2018 and 2019), but I finally feel like I accomplished it! I simplified my financial accounts, my daily processes and even my own expectations for myself.
This year, my focus is on health. After our move to China in summer of 2018, we were in a kind of survival mode for a while. Adjusting to a new culture with new daily routines, a new school and even new food was stressful.
The short version: I gained quite a bit of weight (apparently I ate a lot of those feelings!).
What does this have to do with money? Everything has to do with money (or at least it does if you’re on a personal finance blog, ha!). From budgeting for healthy food to making space in your budget for fitness classes or a personal trainer, there’s definitely a financial impact!
PRIORITIZING SPENDING ON GOALS
I’m a firm believer in value-based spending. I spend freely on things that are important to me because I also cut spending on things that simply aren’t a priority. This is true with any limited resource: prioritizing is everything.
While you can definitely eat healthy on a tight budget, factoring in the challenges of finding the time to plan, shop (especially in China!) and prepare healthy food can be difficult. You can exercise for free at home with some videos, but that requires a lot of motivation as well.
At this current stage in my life, I’m much more limited by time and motivation than I am funds. This means I’m able (and definitely willing) to spend more in order to make it easier and more likely that I will follow through with my health and fitness goals.
MONEY AND HEALTH
As I went through my initial 2020 annual budget in detail, I intentionally focused on ensuring I had allocated resources for categories that will most impact my health goals: groceries, eating out, and group fitness classes.
I’ve found for myself that convenience is essential. I work remotely from home, so it’s too easy to grab a snack here and there or eat something quick and easy rather than something healthy. While it may be more expensive to buy pre-cut fruit and vegetables, it sometimes can make a big difference between eating processed food or something healthy. The same goes for eating out: fast food is cheaper and sometimes easier (especially with kids), but sacrifices both the experience of eating out and healthy options. The trade-off is a no-brainer for meeting my goal.
As for exercise, I’ve discovered (surprising myself!) that I love group fitness classes. It gives me the accountability to show up each week and put in my best effort without making excuses. It can be expensive, but it’s totally worth it! I’ll be continuing as many classes as I can this year, as well as keeping up some workouts on my own during the busy tax season months where I can’t attend as many.
In addition to physical health, there are other self-care expenses that I will continue to prioritize as well. We’re incredibly lucky to have an ayi (“auntie” in Chinese) that works for us on a part-time basis and helps with the cleaning, food preparation and childcare. This is essentially a mental health care expense living in China, and I’ll be utilizing her (and paying her more) during the months that I’m really busy.
For me, I’ve found a lot of the same principles apply to managing my health as to managing my finances. The same things are important:
- Setting achievable goals
- Tracking progress in quantifiable ways
- Intentionally setting aside time each week
- Keeping up your motivation by celebrating small gains
- Giving yourself some grace to make mistakes
The saying goes “healthy, wealthy and wise”. Taking care of your health impacts all other areas of your life, and I’m looking to improving both health and wealth (and maybe becoming a little bit wiser) this year!