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Episode 96: Health and your Dollars

How wealth affects your health
Episode 96: Health and your Dollars


Today, I look at the importance of looking after your health, how being obese affects your earning potential, and why the best thing to invest in will always be yourself…


Like many others, I’ve put some weight on during the pandemic and haven’t had my physical health as a top priority, but with a wake-up call from the doctor, it’s time that changed.


Today, I’m looking at the costs of being unhealthy, how wealth affects your health, and why the best thing to invest in is yourself…


“Eating healthy costs about $1.50 per day more than an unhealthy diet, that’s about $550 a year.” – Ben Jones


“The number one reason for bankruptcy is medical bills.” – Ben Jones

Time Stamps:

00:45 – My past co-worker who recently passed away from lung cancer.

01:25 – My health worries and the weight I gained over the pandemic.

02:50 – The importance of looking after your health.

03:50 – Why the best thing to invest in is yourself.

05:53 – How wealth affects your health, and the costs of eating healthy.

08:03 – How much unhealthy lifestyle habits cost the US health system.

09:30 – How your weight affects your earning ability.

10:48 – Fat tax and the importance of treating your body well.


Connect with Ben Jones:



We’ll get back to them next week. The kids have been on Spring Break, the weather is great, and there was a holiday.  So, it’s hard to get the kids together to do their thing.

This past weekend was great.  We had the family together, it was relaxing, and we had a chance to do what we do on Easter.  Eggs, baskets, the Easter Bunny and more.  However, I got a did get a text from a dear friend about a prior co-worker.  He was 52 and passed away a few days earlier.

This guy was in great health, motivated, focused, successful and more.  He had several qualities that I aspire to and we were peers.  From what I could see, he lived life with a real zeal, focused on his family and always kept his priorities laser focused.  For him, I thought it was his “super hero” ability.  I think he can be very proud of what he attained over his life. But, he had a very aggressive lung cancer, and it took about 7 weeks from start to finish. 

Yes, stuff like that makes us all think, but I actually started thinking about my health and mortality about 5 days ago, after a visit to the doctor.  I had a couple things to talk to the doctor about that were bothering me.  It’s been a tough year for all of us, and I was feeling the effects. I had a few more pains than normal, a little extra weight, sleep wasn’t as good, drinking a bit more than I would like, high blood pressure and other stuff.  

First, the doctor told me I got “The Covid 19”,  I told him I haven’t tested positive for COVID and I recently got the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine.  He said “You don’t understand, many people are getting “The Covid 19”.  Now, I’m just thinking my doctor is losing it.  Of course there have been millions of people who got COVID.  As he went on to explain, he was referring to my weight gain.  Hey, I’m not proud of it, but due to COVID I gained over 19 lbs.  They were referring to THE COVID 19, as the 19 extra pounds that people have gained over the pandemic.  Too much eating, drinking and not enough exercise combined with uncertainty, stress of many kinds, loss and so much more. I thought of it like what we used to call the Freshman “15” which happened your first year of college when you ate too many starchy foods from the university cafeteria.  My buddy Jerry used to joke he got the Freshman 50, as he was literally much closer to 50 than 15.

Anyway, I received a kind, understanding, but stern discussion from my doctor that gaining all that weight, drinking too much, and not sleeping enough wreaks havoc on your system.  He said if I could get my act together and get enough GOOD sleep, all these other issues would more than likely clear up.

It made me think about a couple things.  First, do I want to be in good shape when I’m ready to spend the money I saved for all those years.  And, econd does it cost more to be unhealthy?

Hopefully, you’re all saying “Yes, I want to enjoy my life and be healthy”.  I’m going to say it.  At this doctor’s appointment, I weighed in at 244.  That’s EMBARRASSING for me.  I’d say I’m 40 pounds overweight, technically obese and I’ve had enough.  When I’m in my 60’s the extra weight is going to be terrible for me, which gets me to my second point.  What the heck was I thinking?  I talk about saving money, watching what you spend and investing it.  But, where is the FIRST place I should invest.  If you haven’t figured it out, it should be on yourself!!

Hey, I want to cut down on eating bad food, like too much red meat, too many fried and fatty foods, too much sugar and other well known bad things.  It simply makes it really tough for getting on the right track if you don’t kick some of those out of your life.  So, what happens when you abuse your body for years?  Does your body sit there and thank you, or does it fall apart? I’ve seen it in my life with my dad, so hold that thought.

When in Chicago, we had a brand new superstar named Derrick Rose who started about a dozen years ago.  The guy was amazing.  However, he got hurt early on, then sidelined for a season, hurt again, returned, got hurt again.  I think you get the picture.  But, from what I’ve read, he has one of the worse diets out there. He admitted to regularly eating McDonald’s, potato chips and lots of candy.  He actually kept a Skittles vending machine in his home and said “Everybody’s got their poison and mine is sugar.”  There was a discussion that coming out about the diets of individuals coming from a lower socio-economic background like Derrick, where high quality food is not a big part of growing up. Fast food, chips and Mountain Dew made up the eating habits of many coming from these environments.  So, did he get hurt because his body wasn’t as healthy as it could’ve been, bad mechanics or both?  It was all discussed.  If you don’t give your body fruits and vegetables and what it needs, it’ll probably let you down.  Taste the Rainbow, just don’t make it one of your four food groups.

So, what do you think the statistics say about people with money and their health.  You knew I was going to get into the numbers and talk about money. The wealthy people I know try to take care of themselves better than those that have less money. I know, that’s completely anecdotal.  But, it would make sense.  If you have options and opportunities, you have stuff to look forward to, you want to enjoy your life, and it’s hard to do that when you can’t move really well or have several medical issues.

First things first. An article from Harvard stated that eating healthy costs about $1.50 more per day than an unhealthy diet.  That’s about $550 more a year.  It’s not something to shrug at, and it probably costs more time as well to prepare.  So, is it worth it?  First, I’ll have to say I’ve felt worse over the last 8 months than any point in my life, and I have eaten more processed meat, pizza and Doritos than ever.  Yes, there is stress, but my lifestyle has been horrible.

I found an article from about 3 years ago regarding the topic of money and health.  It says that unhealthy people earn lower incomes, save less and accumulate less wealth.  This is from the National Bureau of Economics research.  A healthy 65 year old with a highschool degree has about twice the wealth as an unhealthy 65 year old with the same degree.

My friend who passed away didn’t bring on lung cancer due to smoking.  He exercised often, ate well, and I would suspect he was healthy up until the day he went into the hospital.  He often times spent time with kids doing various sports, as his son was an outstanding pitchen, I would argue, due in a large part due to the attention he gave. 

If you haven’t seen the bankruptcy video on EduCounting, you’d find out that the number one reason for it are medical bills.  Yes, there may be a lack of solid insurance to cover the costs, but there is a cost to not living healthy. It is real.

It’s estimated that about ¼ of all health care dollars here at home are estimated to be from treatments due to changeable behaviors.  It costs the US healthcare system 100’s of billions of dollars on alcohol abuse, cigarette smoking and obesity.  

My father was obese the entire time that I knew him.  My mother told me the weight gain started after a medical issue he had and it never came off.  He was a stress eater, and having 6 kids, you might understand.  But, I honestly can’t remember a time he threw a football with me or tossed a baseball. I do remember a time or two when he rode a bike with the family, but besides that, he never moved well and couldn’t get on the floor with us when little because he couldn’t get back up.  

He had great insurance, and most of his doctor bills were paid, but for years, he must have been on at least a dozen different medications.  There’s a cost to all those medications.  He was a diabetic and had various other issues. He couldn’t walk very far, his mind wasn’t sharp and overall he was falling apart.  Hey, that happens, but if you look at the cost of being healthy versus the cost of being unhealthy, it’s a big difference.

I found a couple older studies, which were at least 10 years old.  There was some very interesting information in it that I believe has only gotten worse in our society.  So, anything I mention here, would be much higher in today’s dollars.  

  1. The research supports that your weight affects your earning ability. In one study, a 1% increase in a woman’s body mass index or BMI results in a .6% DECREASE in family income.
  2. It said that ⅔’s of Americans are overweight or obese.  They could calculate the cost for being obese due to sick days, reduced productivity, extra clothing, disability and life insurance, gasoline and other stuff could be calculated.  Annually, as a women, if you’re obese it was about $4,900 and for a man $2,600.
  3. It’s literally been calculated that inactivity will cost you somewhere between $650 and $1,200 per year, as well.
  4. And, healthy people usually pay lower premiums, and can save more.

Does this make sense, that financially, it really hurts you to not take care of yourself.

You can save some money by your junk food, fast food or alcohol consumption. They estimated you could save $1,000 per year.  Or you could eat smaller portions and stretch your food, by getting 2 meals from one.  That’s estimated to save $500 per year.

Did you know that in some places they actually have a “Fat tax”, which goes to tax things that only seem to add weight, like soft drinks, candy and more.  

I think it’s important that our kids understand that decisions today have ramifications for the future.  If you want to decide to spend your money foolishly, it won’t be there when you need it.  If you don’t want to spend your time treating your body well with good food, sleep and exercise it won’t be there when you need it as you get older as well.

I went out and got my COVID vaccine for several reasons. One was definitely to protect myself and my family.  I know there are various views if it will do the trick, if it will defend against the different strains  out there, and also a discussion about the new vaccination technology.  There are a lot of questions.  I get it.  However, my brother got COVID recently, before he was able to get the vaccine.  

He must have had a depressed immune system and he contracted pneumonia as well.  That little bout cost him several days of missed work and a big hospital bill.  This all adds up into dollars and cents, even with the best insurance.  A day in the hospital is around $4,000 and after insurance it could easily be $1,000 per day.  But, depending on the circumstance it could be much higher.  Estimates of COVID patients from what I’ve seen has been north of $50k if they were hospitalized.

There are many examples of how getting sick costs you money, and losing out on activity playing with your kids has a cost to.  I can do better, that’s why there is a set of 4 pickle ball rackets coming in the mail today.  That time flies by, and it’s priceless.

Is it time to get yourself back on track, to enjoy your life, take control of your finances, and make a difference.  Then I think you should join me, and focus on losing that weight, getting more sleep and exercising more.  Kids, help your parents. I’m going to take off the weight and work toward never taking medications, and having a happy, healthy financial life I can share with the people I love.

Take your dollars and your sense, S-E-N-S-E and put them towards living a healthier life. Start with a couple small adjustments.  Hey, I bought my bike last week, I got the Pickle rackets coming, and I’m looking at the gym again.  I’m really trying to choose activities that are fun and get the blood pumping.  I hate that I paid full price for my bike, but I’m really happy I have it since so many are now sold out. Hey, let me leave you with this last comment from the Roman Poet Virgil over 2,000 years ago.  The greatest Wealth is Health.

Thanks for being here, and don’t forget to like, subscribe and comment on the podcast, and until next week, make it a healthy day.

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