When we talk about Health and Wellness, we usually think only of our physical well-being. However, academics and healthcare providers use a broader definition to include the ‘Eight Dimensions of Wellness’: Emotional, Environmental, Financial, Intellectual, Occupational, Physical, Social and Spiritual. Health, by comparison, consists of the ‘Health Triangle’ concerned directly with our long-term physical shape, along with our mental and social capabilities.
As Planners and Consultants, we look at improving our clients’ situation by helping them better understand their finances, their options, and the consequences of their choices. Why is this important? How is it relevant?
A major cause of death among business owners, heart disease, is frequently caused by stress from work. Often the most stressful part of work is finance related, whether dealing with an uncertain income or changing taxes, or their lack of confidence in what they are doing in these areas.
If you know your systems are functioning efficiently and well, and you have a system to test them frequently, you can sleep well at night.
While educating clients and helping them implement systems to find lost dollars and collect them, we are often asked to create a clear map of where their financial future is headed. When you know where you are going and have a map to get there, with stops along the way for enjoyment and reflection, the journey is less stressful.
As there are always unexpected construction delays or accidents, it is best to plan for them by anticipating and mitigating their disruption. A combination of protection and planned rerouting will usually suffice. As the trip progresses, periodic additions to reserves will assure the ability to find a smoother road. Plans for the unknown future are essential, whether via a qualified plan or a tax-favored non-qualified plan, or both
We all need to take positive steps to assure our health and a healthy lifestyle. Besides reducing stress by boosting our financial confidence, it is important to keep a positive attitude. Ulcers are a real roadblock.
Health and Lifestyle are intertwined to include our work environment and the incumbent pressures and responsibilities. It behooves us all to be aware of how they affect us internally and externally. How we react to challenges and conflict or refuse to react may have dire physical and mental consequences if they become too acute.
Life is a balancing act of different wants and needs, attitudes and activities. Gurus are always preaching Family-Work-Social balance with effort taken to support each. It makes sense. You just have to remember to do it!
Some practical steps we should all consider:
If, like me, you are mostly a “couch potato” you need to get exercise – not that unused gym membership you got last Christmas.
Review your Health Insurance coverage to see if you are missing out on any benefits or paying for some you will never need. Make the necessary adjustment.
If you have the option of opening a Health Savings Account, do it. An HSA functions like an employer-sponsored Roth IRA for health expenses. Money contributed via payroll deduction reduces your taxable income and can be used tax-free to pay for medical expenses, including Over-The-Counter items like aspirin and Band Aids. The account is yours and travels with you from employer to employer and can be very handy in retirement.
Your health insurance includes a free annual physical. Use it. Ask for a printout of your examiner’s findings and share them with your family. It’s easier and more effective if you have support following your doctor’s instructions, despite your reluctance. Your family wants you to “stick around.”
When you look at your future health concerns and their potential cost, the specter of rising insurance premiums looms large. While there is no solution in sight, good planning demands we estimate when and why increased costs are likely and if there is an economic way to mitigate that expense.
Anticipating old age, we recommend looking at Long Term Care expense (Nursing Home) coverage. This particular coverage has already put several insurance companies into bankruptcy as it was underpriced. Today, reasonable coverage is available to “young’ people in their 50’s and/or as a rider on some Life Policies for all ages. For older ages, coverage a part of a Life or Hybrid contract is a better bet. Be sure to shop around and read the limitations carefully.
Another reliever of stress and preserver of wealth is the establishment of an Estate Plan that clearly delineates who gets what accompanied by a personal letter, outside the will, to principal heirs explaining your wishes. Kiplinger’s just reported that more than 50% of Americans do not have a will. The alternative, State-dictated Administration, guarantees maximum fees and delays.
Similar planning for a business or practice can preserve value and avoid waste and disappointment at its disposition. Unfortunately, most owners wait too long to make plans to sell, losing the value of their hard work. Too many owners assume (bad word) a buyer will be easy to find or that a willing buyer will have sufficient capital when the time comes. ‘Exit Planning’ is as much art as science and is best begun 10 to 5 years before any transfer takes place.
Finally, in getting rid of stress and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, even the most ardent workaholics would agree that ‘Decompression Time’ – away from the office, co-workers and the job site – is a great help to keeping one’s sanity. For some, a College Reunion, a cruise, or two weeks in the sun at dead of Winter will do the trick. Everyone has, or should have, his or her own method of unwinding and recharging. Too many of us, myself included, forget to take advantage of such relief.
A healthy mind, free of undue stress is most able to make wise decisions – in life as well as business. If you want guidance or review in any of these areas, we are here to help. Email or call us for a no-obligation exploratory discussion.
This article was originally published in the October 2019 Morning Star Business Report.