Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Healthy Finances

If we were to contemplate healthy finances what might that look like? 
Food on the table
Bills paid on time
Reserve in the bank

Conversely what would sick finances look like?  At the end of the post I hope you will consider your own finances and decide:  Are they healthy?, Have a cold?, in ICU?, or, on life support?  Knowing the answer will help you view your situation more objectively and possibly make some adjustments in your way of dealing with the choices and attitudes available. 

Switching gears for a minute let's think about health in the physical aspects.  What is a healthy person? 
One who can meet their own needs who can walk, dress, dial a phone, cook their own meals, etc.  If you have ever filled out a disability form all these things are listed and to the extent that we have to rely on others for our basic needs is the extent of the disability.  For some it is temporary caused by illness, accident, injury, or lifestyle, and to some it may now be a permanent condition. 

Taking this scenario a step further, imagine yourself in the hospital.  Your life is confined to a bed.  Assistance is given for all basic needs including bathing, eating, and basic hygiene.  Regular responsibilities are set aside for a time.  Possibly jello or liquids are your only meals and pain medication is administered until you are able to heal and begin taking steps to health and wholeness.

I'm sure everyone has either been in this situation at one time or visited those who have been.  For most, even the extreme need to be in the hospital has the goal of getting us back on our feet, restore us to health, and enable us to resume living our own lives with minimal assistance to the degree possible.  It may take a number of steps along the way to accomplish this:  from ICU, to regular care, to rehab, to outpatient home health care.  Each step of the way has the progressive goal of greater health and independence.  Professionals assist us every step of the way but we have to cooperate and play a part in this healing.  When they say "rest" we rest and when they say "do these exercises three times a day" we do them.  If we don't our healing is delayed or may not occur at all.  It may be extremely difficult but when our goal is health we take those directions one step at a time even if we have to grit our teeth to progress.  If we lag behind or push ahead too quickly there may be a price to pay in added pain and suffering.

During this process friends and family encourage us and may provide additional help and care.  What a blessing and comfort this is and not to be taken for granted in any way. 

In the end hopefully we will be back on our feet sometimes completely and sometimes with future limitations and restrictions.  Then the doctor bills begin pouring in.  This too is part of the price of our healing and can often be difficult and require additional sacrifices and stress but it is all part of the process.

This is the extreme example of health issues and there are degrees all along the way from a cold that needs a couple days of rest, to ongoing allergy treatments, or a pair of glasses to improve our vision.  From the smallest to the greatest our physical health has an effect on our day to day living.

Financial health has many of the same degrees and levels of wellness and many of the same parallels exist.  There are those that are healthy and robust and there are those who need intensive care.  Just as it is the goal of the medical profession to assist people to a full recovery or at least the best possible care for the situation so it should be our goal to be in the best possible financial health requiring the least amount of care from others be it loans from financial institutions to receiving support from other taxpayers. 

This may require eating jello for a while (limited consumption) , intensive rehab (job training, and education), and paying the doctor bills (paying off debt and getting off public assistance programs) but all these things are necessary to become financially healthy to the best of our ability.  Just like a hospital would not allow someone to stay indefinitely just because they did not want to do the therapy neither should we allow ourselves to stay beyond our ability to give 100%. We should expect the same from others.  Personal finances are called such because they are something that we must ultimately take personal responsibility. 

Today I contemplate my own personal financial health and know that I still have much to do.  How about you?  Are you financially healthy?  What are your symptoms?  Just like in the health example not everyone will be able to achieve the same degree of health so too we will not all reach the same degree of financial health. Some may need ongoing care but are we giving it our 100% and following the advice of those who are trying to assist?   As readers of financial blogs I believe you are making efforts and want to move forward.  We want to move forward.  We want to be financially healthy.  We want our nation to be healthy. So keep working your program and encourage those who are and expect others to do the same.

Photos from Google

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