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Your Health Should be Part of Your Pension Plan

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The old adage “Work hard, play hard is a good one…but not at the expense of your health.


What is the point of killing yourself to pay into a pension plan, to drop dead of a heart attack when you retire at 65? Or worse, get a stroke and be bed bound and your pension is paying for 24hr care instead of round the world trips or time spent with your grandchildren?  Or writing that book you always wanted to write?


I am not saying you should not save money – quite the opposite. You absolutely should make provision for your future —- and save even more than you think you should because if I am your doctor, I am hoping to help you live a long long time… but also live WELL for that time…. And that means you have to spend on your health too. Not just money for your regular checkups, cancer screening and health insurance. But TIME exercising and sleeping…
It is now very cheap to eat high calorie dense food. It’s actually MORE expensive to eat healthily. But you should not see that as a waste. You should see that as an investment in your future. It will not show up in your bank balance, but it will show up in your longevity. As for that health insurance – please make sure there is not an age limit or that it does not run out when you stop working…because it’s when you are older that you will most need it. What is the point in paying insurance premiums when you are young to then have no insurance when you are most likely to need it when you are old?


“But doc, I don’t have time to exercise and sleep”. Listen, I can’t tell you what to do with your life. But you only have one.  Figure it out! If having a conversation with HR about ridiculous working hours seems too uncomfortable then think about the hard conversation your children will have to have with your doctors about a “Do not resuscitate order when you have that future stroke.


If you tell me you can’t afford to eat healthily, I will tell you that you will save loads of money on clothes if you are not adding on inches to your waistline every year. Cutting down on the alcohol and giving up cigarettes with save not only your bank balance but also your weight and future medical bills.


You can’t afford a gym membership? No worries. Walk. Get a skipping rope. Don’t have time to walk because of your daily commute? Consider moving closer to where you work. It may cost more money in rent/mortgage, but you will have more time to exercise and sleep.  You will also have time to prepare meals and home instead of doubles on the side of the road on the way to work. Again, you may look poorer in your bank balance…but would you prefer to have a million in the bank and not be able to walk a mile and a half because you need a knee replacement because you are overweight? Actually, at least a knee can be fixed – it costs $ 60K for a new one. But a triple bypass because of angina? $100K… if you don’t drop dead of a heart attack first. A new heart? Almost impossible.


February is Cancer Month. I know many stunningly beautiful young women who “Can’t afford” their Pap smear. A pap smear is $500 every three years. Forget the fake eyelashes- refills have to happen every 2 weeks and cost $300- $500 a pop – so $600-$1000 per month. They take an hour. Save the $1000 into your pension plan or put it towards health insurance and use the hour to walk/skip/swim for free. Mani and pedi? About $400 every 2 weeks too – so another $800


Don’t get me started on Carnival fetes and costumes. By all means play if you can afford it. You need to enjoy life. But don’t tell me you are going to take out a “Carnival loan” to pay for your $700 make up instead of going for your check up!… If you’re 50 and over and haven’t had a $4000 colonoscopy because it is too expensive? – I totally understand, but I am less understanding if you will take the $4000 and spend it on a Carnival costume!

Enough said. Enjoy your mass but do not sacrifice more important things for it!