Using the Wallet to Healthy Change Stick
You feel like you’ve tried it all to get fit. You wear a device to monitor your sleep and your activity. You have a gym membership. You have an app that tracks what you eat and sends you reminders on ways to live a healthy life… but you still struggle to make healthy changes stick. What to do?
Look at the financial impact of making healthy life changes! It’s true many of us are motivated by money. Our doctors may remind us at each annual wellness visit that we should be doing more, but our wallet can have daily influence over our actions.
- What is the real total cost for that smoking habit? By real cost we mean you should look beyond the cost of the habit itself. For example, how much extra are you paying on your health, life, auto, and home insurance premiums because you smoke? (Talk to your independent insurance agent to understand how much you could save by quitting smoking…)
- What is the real total cost for eating fast food for lunch each day? This includes lost time spent grabbing that food instead of doing some healthy activity. It also includes how much extra time you’ll have to invest working out to burn off those excess calories. And of course, you need to factor in the added food costs versus bringing a healthier lunch from home.
And the financial impact of living a healthier lifestyle isn’t only about the money you’ll save… many employer based health insurance plans make some sort of financial incentive available if you perform certain healthy activities. These incentives can be $1,000 or more each year per family.
Why would someone offer such handsome rewards for trying to live a healthy life? Because studies show that 86% of individuals stick with life changes when they are attached to financial incentives. Go figure!
You can also create negative incentives as well. A group out of Australia called http://promiseorpay.com/ has a nifty concept with this in mind. You promise to make a life change or you’ll donate to a charity. Your friends who are helping you change your life also make a similar promise to pony up if they let you fail. And if you don’t like the charities offered at Promise or Pay, don’t let that get in your way… simply put this in action with any charity you believe in and like supporting. Let a friend be responsible for collecting and keeping the cash safe. If you fail, you’ve made a nice charitable donation. If you succeed, all your friends get money back. Take your portion and reward yourself or give it to your favorite charity anyway.
The more you can begin to associate financial rewards (and potentially penalties if your bad habits are really stubborn) the more likely you are to create lasting change in your life. You’ll feel better about yourself and you’ll likely have some extra cash available that you can use to save up for that next vacation!