Living Frugally: Healthy AT Retirement

As mentioned in other Savvy posts, physical and fiscal health are both very important and closely linked. We know that healthy eating, exercise and being in a supportive environment all contribute to physical health which help us remain frugal and fiscally fit. We know fruits, veggies, nuts and legumes provide us with the vitamins and nutrients we need to build muscle, fight off diseases, remain energetic and keep up with those demanding youths in our lives.

Many documentaries such as Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead have shown that making healthy choices can help us get off medication (consult your doctor), cure diseases and maintain a high quality of life.

Well, here’s a connection you may not have considered … we need to make healthy choices now so we are physically able to do what we want at the time of retirement.

I love the elderly. I have respect for those who have made it through rough times, gained high levels of maturity and are vast sources of wisdom. However, I do not wish to age as many retirees have. I refuse to be hunched over, diseased, discolored and lethargic if I can help it.

I made a decision in 2009 to only eat organic and to not eat out since most restaurants don’t have non-meat options. I also find natural, at-home remedies for whatever ails me. I can honestly say my grocery expenses dropped about 50% and I hardly have a reason to see a doctor. In fact, while working at a call center in Idaho Falls my significant other and I noticed that when everyone else was missing work – and consequently the pay – due to sickness, we weren’t. We continued earning money while they lost wages and spent money on doctor visits and medication. That’s significant!

I’ve recently joined CrossFit in an effort to stay healthy as possible. (No I don’t pass out after every workout.)

ChalkMonkey CrossFit near my home in Pasadena, Texas charges $125 for an unlimited number of training days per month. This is money well-spent because it’s exactly the style of training I need – intense, 100% all out – and it contributes to a healthy routine which becomes a habit that will follow me into retirement and beyond. In addition, the owner/head instructor, has proven knowledgeable in helping me get in shape while protecting both of my back injuries. I’m already enjoying several benefits; but the one I feel is most significant is improved mental sharpness. I can be absent-minded, I’ll admit that. But both eating well and regular exercise help keep me focused and at my mental best.

As mentioned previously, the documentary Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead showed real-life examples of multiple folks who were able to reach such a higher level of health that they no longer needed their prescription medications. Some were on multiple meds. I’m certain they were happy to no longer have that financial burden on their shoulders. Let’s face it, medications are very costly these days.

Question: Does it make any sense to save, invest, reduce debt, etc. just to hit 65 years of age and not have the physical ability to travel, volunteer, complete your bucket list, etc? No, it doesn’t. So why not start now – develop a healthy, frugal routine – forge it into a habit and watch it serve you not only physically but fiscally too?

Am I saying you have to give up meat and join CrossFit? No. While I highly recommend both, they’re not the right path for everyone. You can join a gym, do Pilates @ home, eat less saturated fat, get more sleep, eat more veggies, etc. Evaluate your health, do research, consult your doctor and act accordingly. The choice is yours. We need to recognize that healthy, frugal choices now will lead to a fiscally sound and physically healthy retirement. Period.

James
 

James retired in 2005 after serving 21 years in the United States Army. During the latter part of his career, James' interest in personal finance was piqued based on his own experiences and observations of the way most Americans plan – or more accurately, fail to plan – for retirement and the difficulty many face in starting the process. His most valued education has been lessons learned from personal experience and through conversations with smart, savvy friends.

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