Ask Steve Jobs, wealth don’t buy health.
- Pusha T, Exodus 23:1
I have been listening to Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr by Ron Chernow on audiobook. It is quite long, but I am almost done. Something struck me recently that has stuck with me of late: despite being one the richest men of all time, Rockefeller’s entire family and in-laws battled serious health problems for a significant portion of their lives, with John Sr being the lone exception. On a related note, Rick Ferri (@Rick_Ferri) tweeted on Tuesday of this week, “Today is my 58th birthday. Here is one thing I learned so far in life; if it’s not your health, don’t worry about it. You can get over it.” Between the Rockefeller situation and the Rick Ferri tweet, it is clear that, as Pusha T says in the song Exodus 23:1, certain financial goals do not matter if one is in poor health.
Health is everything, both physically and mentally. The relentless pursuit of money or love or whatever it might be won’t matter if one has a heart attack at 40 years old. Frequently, we put the cart before the horse when it comes to our health. That is, we try to fix problems rather than proactively addressing them before they become problems.
This is also true for our financial health. Just like the best medical advice is to eat healthy and exercise, the best financial advice is to spend less than you earn and save/invest the difference. The perfect portfolio can’t fix a spending problem, and the perfect medicine can’t fix a sedentary lifestyle. One must address the tree at the roots, not the branches.
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Unhealthy food is often cheaper, quicker, and more convenient. It is tough to stay disciplined to exercise after a tiring 10 hour day at work. Similarly, lifestyle creep - raising one’s standard of living as discretionary income rises - might be the biggest challenge people face financially. It is crucial to take conscious steps to combat these obstacles head on, and prioritize building a strong foundation in order to live a long healthy life, financial and otherwise.