I’ll be honest, I love money.
I love making money, saving money, learning about money, teaching about money, talking about money, writing about money. All of it.
Investing, budgeting, saving, earning more, real estate, stocks, and even crypto.
I also love fitness.
This may go against the crowd, but these two passions of mine have taught me that your health is an investment not an expense.
John Quelch is quoted as saying almost exactly that: “view health as an investment, not an expense.”
There are a few different ways to look at this, and I want to spend some time covering them both. The first is from a quantitative perspective: taking a look at the numbers and what it means financially. The second is from a qualitative perspective: the impact it has on your day-to-day life.
Purely Quantitatively or Financially
Key Financial Terms
Before we get into the numbers, I want to quickly explain how I define and view two key terms in the financial world.
First, is “assets.” According to Robert Kiyosaki, assets are things that put money in your pocket, while liabilities are things that take money out of your pocket.
Another definition of “assets” I really like is from Rich Fettke. He says, “assets are anything that brings you income, better health, happiness, or time.“
The second key term is “investing.”
Too many people think that day trading or buying penny stocks is investing. It’s not. That’s gambling.
True investing is when you deploy money into assets with the expectation of earning a return with relative certainty. This does not mean it’s guaranteed, but it is at least reasonable to assume that a material return is viable.
Okay, so now that we’ve covered those key terms, what does that have to do with “your health is an investment not an expense”?
Referring to Kiyosaki’s definition of assets, on the surface, your health appears to be a liability.
But, is it really? I’d argue it’s not.
Sure, in the short run your health is only “taking money out of your pocket,” but in the long run, it is putting money in your pocket in the form of savings (we’ll touch on this again in just a minute).
How about Fettke’s definition?
He specifically calls out better health as an asset. I’d say that’s as straightforward as it gets. Case closed.
Now, when it comes to investing in your health, you are spending money with the expectation of having lower health costs in the future (this is your return).
By definition, your health is an investment not an expense.
Your Health is an Investment not an Expense: The Numbers
I mentioned previously that we’d touch on this topic again in just a minute. That time is now.
In the short run, making healthy choices seems more costly and it increases your expenses. It’s likely that your grocery bill goes up when you start buying healthier foods and you may have to sign up for a gym membership that costs money each month.
There is no doubt that those are expenses in your budget in a traditional sense. However, instead of thinking of them as expenses, you should consider them investments in your future.
If you invest a bit more each month in making healthy choices, that should lead to significantly less medical bills and health costs in the long run. You may spend a few hundred dollars more each month, but that could save you tens of thousands of dollars on your medical bills in the future.
Those healthcare cost savings and medical bill savings are your financial return for thinking of your health is an investment not an expense.
The numbers are only half of the reason why your health is an investment not an expense. The second half is the overall improvement in your quality of life.
By choosing to invest more in your health, you will feel better on a day-to-day basis, have more energy, make better decisions, and be happier.
And, just like how you receive a financial return later in life, you can also receive a qualitative return later in life that has nothing to do with money. You’ll get to spend more time with your family and experience things you may not get to otherwise.
I actually have a personal story that illustrates this perfectly.
The Best Investing Return Ever
Warren Buffett is considered the best investor of all time by many. In fact, I think so, too. I’m a huge Buffett fan.
But, you know who else I consider one of the best investors of all time?
And it has nothing to do with his stock portfolio or any financial return.
My father had smoked my entire childhood, and for a while before that too.
I had asked my dad to quit smoking many, many times, but he never did. Even at a young age, I knew smoking was bad.
Nothing else I tried had worked, so when I was 12 years old, I wrote my dad a letter begging him to quit smoking.
This was possibly the first hint that I was meant to be a copywriter because I used some powerful language in it. Especially for being only 12 years old.
In the letter, I told my dad that he needed to quit smoking if he wanted to be around to meet his grandkids (my future kids). How I knew to say that at 12 years old still puzzles me, but I did. My dad still has this letter to this day.
Those words hit him hard and he stopped. He finally quit smoking.
We just celebrated his 15-year anniversary of being smoke-free this past summer, two days after my son’s 4th birthday.
Guess who was there opening gifts with his grandson? My dad.
Did he save some money over the years from not having to buy cigarettes? He sure did. But that’s not even the best return.
Getting to be healthy and experience life with your family and grandson is.
If that isn’t the best investment return you could earn, I don’t know what is.
Remember, your health is an investment not an expense.