THE BLOG

Understanding Finances Can Lead to a Healthier Life

06/10/2014 12:40 EDT | Updated 08/10/2014 05:59 EDT
Danita Delimont via Getty Images

I live and breathe health and wellness. In my practice and in my role at Bright Almond I am driven by the core belief that when people are well, they can change the world.

As a naturopathic doctor I work with patients to remove the obstacles to one achieving good health. We work on diet, address hormonal imbalances, support healthy digestion and assess lifestyle influences that are detracting from health-related goals. Key, among the sources of stress impacting the daily lives and quality of life of my patients, is the unrelenting pressure of money management.

Financial stress has been identified on the intake forms of nearly 80 per cent of my clients, most of whom are women. For a significant portion of these individuals, it is not that they don't have adequate earnings; it is usually that their money is not managed in a manner that supports their lifestyle or long-term goals.

I am not a financial planner. I am not wealthy and I do not always make the best financial decisions -- I am human. What I do have however, is a level of financial literacy that empowers me to understand when the decisions I am making are helping or hampering my long-term goals.

For as long as I can remember, my dad has encouraged me to understand how money works. As an eight year old, my daily exposure to Disney was not the Mickey Mouse Club, but rather their stock price. We watched how it fluctuated, we talked about financial markets and he implored the concept of making your money 'work for you.' As I got older, my dad crafted a more ingenious scheme to support his belief that children need a financial education -- he tied my allowance directly to my acquisition of financial acumen.

The Wealthy Barber, The Richest man in Babylon and even One Up on Wall Street, became core tenants in his version of home schooling. I never had to read the books, but when I did, and when I was able to talk about the principles, my allowance increased accordingly. On a rare occasion, there was even a cash reward.

His belief that kids, and girls in particular, not only need but deserve to understand money management, is a value I have adopted for my daughters as well. This is not about having an obsession with money, it is about teaching responsibility and an empowered approach to investing in one's hard-earned success. Perhaps even more profoundly, for daughters in particular, it is about knowing how to self-sustain should you ever find yourself alone or needing to walk away.

I often write about the top things people can do to influence their health. Drinking water, eating greens and sucking on smoothies are all important to maintaining a healthy vitality. Arguably, on par with the management of one's gluten-free, paleo anti-aging smoothie regiment is addressing the most significant sources of one's stress.

Just as I provide my dad with the harsh reality that cheese and peanut butter are poor quality sources of protein (he calls me Dr. Kill-Joy), his commitment to my financial education have differentiated a path dedicated to my long-term success. Scoops of peanut butter or an extra-cookie always taste good in the moment but rarely provide the level of satisfaction you can derive from an hour at the gym (right dad?). Right up there with teaching me to ride my bike, thank you dad for instilling the principle of paying myself first.

This post and others have appeared on Dr Meghan's Blog

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