I started playing sports as soon as I could walk. The companionship, competitiveness and fun all lit a fire in me. That fire sports gave me has now turned into a passion for truly understanding exercise, health, and the relationship between them. I’ve been a lifelong student of learning how working out and eating right can affect performance, motivation and productivity. Not just in sports, but in my life in general. Another blessing was the fact that I had parents who attended every single game I played in. I got to witness firsthand the joy that putting family first can bring. However, I also witnessed how difficult it is to balance family, careers, goals and money without proper guidance. This is what led me to becoming a financial advisor – to help people achieve that balance and enable them to focus on what’s important to them, like family.For young professionals and those balancing family and professional lives, it is easy to forget to pause and think about the relationship between your financial and physical health, and how proper nutrition and exercise can lead to long-term financial well-being. At Merriman, we believe in our tagline of “Invest Wisely. Live Fully.” Long-term success, both in finances and in health, takes a balanced and consistent approach.

Most of the time when people think about planning for retirement, their first thought is about their 401(k) and other retirement accounts. That’s a great start, but if there’s anything that can quickly diminish a retirement fund, it’s unplanned medical costs. It’s easy to focus on working hard to build up your retirement nest egg, but this leaves little time to stay mentally and physically healthy. What good is sacrificing your health to work harder and save more, just to have that money you worked so hard for go towards taking care of medical bills in your retirement? Your greatest asset is not your retirement savings – it’s you.

You’ve probably heard about the importance of saving early for retirement and letting compound interest work for you. The same principals also apply to your health. To let compound interest work for you, it’s important to start early. It’s equally important to invest time and financial resources in your health. As the proverb says, “A healthy person has a thousand wishes, but a sick person has only one.” It’s important to find the right balance between monetary investing, and investing in your health. And at Merriman, it’s why we believe it’s important to both invest wisely and live fully. The below example shows just how much a healthy lifestyle can add to your retirement savings, and how connected health and finance are.

A study done by George Washington University in 2010 quantified how much money a healthy lifestyle can save you in the long run. They considered factors such as medical costs, disability, lost wages and premature mortality. For an average person with a BMI of 30 or greater, which is roughly 40% of the American population, versus an average person with a BMI under 30, the average annual savings of the individual is $6,518 for men and $8,365 for women. If that money had been invested over a 40-year working span with a reasonable 6% return, that $6,518/year could have been a $1 million retirement portfolio, and that $8,365/year could be worth $1.29 million!

Whether you have a BMI over 30 or not, it pays to invest in your health. And while each situation is different, I challenge you to ask yourself the following question: Could investing more in your health help you invest more wisely and live more fully, both now and in retirement?

If the answer to that question is yes, you have many options. First, you could join a local gym, hire a personal trainer or enroll in something like CrossFit to help push you towards achieving your physical goals. You could also focus on the mind/body connection and take a more spiritual class like yoga and meditation. For group fitness enthusiasts, you can join a group class like spin, Barre or Orangetheory. You could even learn a martial art, join a climbing gym or take a nutritional cooking class. And for outdoor enthusiasts, hike one of the 10 Must-Do Hikes in the Pacific Northwest.

It’s important to find something you enjoy doing and makes you feel great when you’re finished. The great part is that most of these options allow for a free class or two so you can try them out before making any commitments. And, if you need help finding the right balance for you between your finances and your health, you can email me at frank@merriman.com with your questions and I will happily answer them to the best of my ability.

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