In many ways the secret to wealth comes down to two things: cultivating gratitude and our overall health. On the second concept, it can be hard to feel good and “wealthy” if we are not healthy.
The good news is that much of our health can be managed with habits, choices and setting ourselves up for success. We are continually looking for ways to hack our lives for greater health.
Grinding Away & The Power of Intention
If you have not conquered your financial freedom yet and are still grinding away at the 9-5, it can be challenging to fit in any kind of exercise and healthy habits. Therefore, throw in the demands of raising a family and work stresses, and taking care of ourselves becomes exponentially harder. Then add in the standard American diet (SAD), full of low nutrition sugar and bad fats…You get the picture: An all out assault on your health and your wealth.
There is a proven link between health and wealth for obvious reasons. No wonder half of Americans are overweight, tired and obese! We have a major problem on our hands. And this is not touchy feely stuff, this is about money. It costs our country billions in healthcare costs because something about our lifestyles and habits is broken. Not to mention the personal monetary costs of being sick and tired all the time. Of course the ideal is to be able to have some dedicated time each week to exercise, play tennis, lift some heavy objects, do some yoga, etc. But how do we find the time each week or the energy, we may not, so we need some health hacks to at least keep us as healthy as possible.
A life of “True Wealth” is comprised of healthy finances, strong mind and body. So what is a Money Viking to do? It is a big challenge for me to fit any kind of self improvement workout time into a very demanding schedule. Therefore, here are some ideas I deploy in order to increase my chances of staying strong and healthy.
The ideas below are simple and do not require a big effort to implement. In other words, none of them require an expensive gym membership or huge amounts of time you may not have. We are what we eat say medical professionals and health experts. Therefore, if we fill our bodies with highly refined junk food and bad oils, we feel bad. I believe this limits our ability to be productive and harness our wealth building potential. For food choices I really like the Michael Pollen mantra of:
Eat real food
Not too much
One definition I personally have about living a life of “True Wealth” is the opportunity to have healthy, wholesome and great tasting food. But let’s face it, food can be expensive, especially if you are concerned with the nutritional quality. So here are several ideas on eating and living our way to wealth and health:
1. Think Real Food
I have started getting my mind into the habit of asking a simple question before I eat something: Is this real food? In other words, did it actually come from nature or is it something that has been highly processed. See, highly processed foods have been stripped of nutrients and then injected with bad fats, sugar and sodium so they will sit on a shelf in a store.
For other good food ideas: 7 Foods That Unclog Arteries.
2. Just Walk
Every chance you get no matter where you are, just get up and walk. Around the neighborhood, in the office to the printer, on the lunch break. Take the stairs, park farther away, go to a park with your kids. Simple, free, clears your mind! As a result, I feel healthier and have a clearer mind almost instantly.
3. Add or subtract one thing
I certainly do not have a “perfect diet”. There is probably no such thing. But a mental trick I try is to either add something healthy to an otherwise unhealthy meal or subtract something unhealthy. For example, if I get some crazy burrito, I will add guacamole. It tastes good and I just added some nutrients. On the flip side, if I get a Mexican Pizza at Taco Bell, I remove the meat to lower the calories and bad fats. If I get a regular pizza, I try to load it up with veggies. Again, I am at least gaining some nutrients and fiber. Consequently, I end up consuming more vegetables and less processed stuff in aggregate.
4. Play with your kids
Kids just want to spend time with you and play. Consequently, this can be good for you too! It’s not about the stuff and the toys and the gadgets, it’s about your attention as a parent. Just go out in your backyard or park and play around with them. We have a big bin of soccer balls, frisbees, and other outside things that can just be tossed around. Turn on the sprinklers in summer and run through them. Instant exercise and all star parenting all in one!
For goodness sake people, get some good rest! Sleep literally cleans the brain of toxins and protein buildup each night. Therefore, this is one reason it is so important. Sleep is free and healthy and I can’t think of anything easier to improve health, well being and decision making.
Life and building wealth is a marathon not a sprint, so get some good deep sleep every single day. However, you will have to create the right conditions. You will have to pry yourself from the addictive grip of devices and social media.
By the way, social media is designed to trap you, it is playing off your physiology and makeup to keep you addicted and connected, so beware, it will be hard to turn it off. As a result, If you are staring at a screen at night, you are shooting blue light into your eyeballs. Therefore, at least wear some protective glasses if you can’t pull yourself away. The blue light tells your brain to be active and alert and wears you down. The room should be cool, comfortable, quiet and free from the electronic wonderland we have become so addicted to.
We are what we eat say medical professionals and health experts. If we fill our bodies with highly refined junk food and bad oils, we feel bad. As a result, I believe this limits our ability to be productive and harness our wealth building potential. One definition I personally have about living a life of “True Wealth” is the opportunity to have healthy, wholesome and great tasting food. But let’s face it, food can be expensive, especially if you are concerned with the nutritional quality. So here are several ideas on eating our way to wealth and health:
6. Load up on healthy foods that are typically lower cost:
Whole wheat or multi grain pasta
Greek Yogurt (watch the sugar)
The average American family’s 3rd largest budget item is typically food. Find every way possible to trim this bill. One easy way to save 6% automatically is to use this great credit card:
7. Opt for “fast casual” or “take out”, but make good healthy choices
One can save money by avoiding sit down restaurants with the white table cloths and service. These elements add to the cost and do not add any nutritional value. There is a trend of “fast casual” eateries where you can pick up delicious and nutritious foods without the extra costs. There is a great chain called Tender Greens here in SoCal that offers up the right price point and awesome nutritious foods.
Another savings people don’t usually consider is saving on tips. At fast casual pick up you don’t add 15% or more to the bill to pay the server!
8. Limit buying Alcohol while out
Alcohol at best seems healthy only in moderation. Too much has many health hazards and seems to increase the risks of all sorts of diseases. Alcohol is highly marked up when eating out. Think about the cost of a glass of wine when eating out, it is typically the cost of a whole bottle. If one is on a path to FI, it’s best to avoid as much as possible. Save that money and plow it into paying down debt and investments.
Big drinking has many negative externalities beyond the costs! A person loses production and health the next day as well.
9. Harness the power of leftovers
I try as much as possible to halve my dinner amount and save some for another meal. This is an instant 50% reduction in the cost of the meal. If it cost you $8, you made it two $4 meals! Invest in some good glass tupperware and get your leftover game on.
Leftovers use is also a great way to simply have lunch the next day. I save tons of lunch money this way. The main point here is to think about the per meal cost.
10. Share with a friend or colleague
Who really has time to have some big lunch during the workday? no one. Plus it results in a heavy lethargic feeling. Therefore, consider splitting quick pick up meals with colleagues and friends. For example, split a sandwich or bagel. Half the calories and half the cost instantly. Sometimes my work friends and I take it a step further and bring a coupon and still split the sandwich and costs. This can get the meal cost down to a couple bucks. We do the same thing with coffees, we can share a coffee and split the cost.
BONUS: The importance of a cheat meal (or two)
Years ago I completed the Body For Life fitness program by following their workout routines and nutritional recipes. I really enjoyed the challenge and was able to reach a higher level of physical fitness and health. One thing I liked about the program was the ability to have a “cheat” meal or two each week. This was a powerful physiological trick that made one feel like they were not “depriving” themselves. We are biological creatures and pretty well wired for survival. It would not have been natural in a hostile world for us to deny ourselves a high caloric meal. This could trigger a feeling of stress given that our ancestors needed every calorie they could get just to survive. The problem with the modern environment is that we are surrounded 24 hours a day with high calorie, low nutritional low cost foods and food substitutes.
Having a cheat meal is similar to having a little splurge in the budget.
A Life of True Wealth
At The Money Vikings we are about more than money in terms of building and living a great life. We have this chance sometime in early adulthood to start to steer our own ship a bit. Living a life of True Wealth is about relationships, balance, a healthy mind and body, etc. Money is part of the fuel and energy we need to manage and harness. This is why we need to ensure most of the foods that are going into our bodies are nutritionally dense and packed with energy. We need this energy and health to build a great life. Go Money Viking strong and invest in one asset that is more precious than any: Your mind and body!
* These are some simple health hacks that I believe work for me. None of this is intended as medical advice for any one particular person. Please see a medical professional for advice on your specific situation.