Let's Get Physical

Let's Get Physical

April 29, 2024

It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold or silver.”  - Gandhi


Ask Steve Jobs as he was lying in a hospital bed – or even 93-year young Warren Buffett as he tap dances to work – what the most important thing in the world to them is and they would not cite their bank account balance but rather their health. 

 

To be sure, even for those with many years left on the clock, the importance of – and connections between – health and wealth are undeniable.  Here are some commonalities that can help you enhance both your physical and fiscal well-being.

1. Success comes from repeating small processes consistently for years.  Short of winning the lottery – or getting liposuction (both of which tend to end very badly) - being fiscally and physically healthy is a function of making small, smart decisions day in and day out for years.  Having a long-term orientation and an ability to adhere to good daily habits puts you at a huge advantage vis a vis the general population (which is why over 60% of adult Americans are obese, and a similar percentage can’t afford a $400 emergency bill).


2. To the extent that you are going to make a mistake/take risks, do so in a way that will limit your downside.  If you are going to invest in an unproven company, keep the position size small (under 5%) relative to your portfolio. If you are going to binge eat or drink, preset a limit so that you do not undo hard earned gains – or worse.


3. People who achieve positive outcomes tend to keep things simple.  I have seen personal trainers who seem to know every last fact about the human body, yet they don’t execute the basics and are themselves not in particularly good health.  There are a few basic mistakes you need to avoid when it comes to health and wealth, and if you can get the basics right and stick to a plan, then the chances of success over time are very high.  Don’t overcomplicate things.


4. Just as a pilot who has flown through hundreds if not thousands of storms has confidence when turbulence arises, those who have endured countless stock market or health challenges proceed with confidence and patience because they understand and trust the process.  One of the biggest mistakes people make is to set forth a plan – one that is well thought out and built to endure inevitable challenges – and then divert from the plan at the first sign of trouble.  Take the time to think through your goals and timelines and move forward with confidence. Yes, monitor and make adjustments to evolving circumstances, but those who flit from one program to another before real results can truly be effectuated are doomed to repeated failure.


5. Bonus concept: Along the lines of ‘the rich get richer’, having muscle is to owning dividend stocks as having too much fat is to being in debt.  When you own dividend paying stocks, you get paid in your sleep (whereas expensive debt can lead to an ever deeper hole). When you have more muscle, you burn calories (given that muscle requires more calories per pound than fat just to ‘exist’) while you sleep.  When you reduce your debt and increase your stock ownership, your financial health can improve dramatically.  Similarly, exchange 5 pounds of fat for 5 pounds of muscle, and your health – not to mention your aesthetics – can change profoundly for the better.


Life isn’t always fair, and it is often those who are in a position of strength (literally and figuratively) who get farther and farther ahead.  Set a goal for January 1st 2025 to gain X pounds of muscle, lose Y pounds fat; reduce X $ of debt and add Y $ of dividend paying stocks, and watch your world brighten as you let muscle and money do much of the work for you.