the value of health

let’s start with a quick story: back when we first got serious about saving money (back then to buy our first place), we learned about couponing as a way to save money on groceries. not the clip-a-coupon-here-and-there style, but the get-several-coupon-books-each-week-and-buy-only-items-we-could-get-both-on-sale-and-with-a-coupon approach. we never got to extreme couponing levels, but we knew which stores doubled coupons, and we shopped at multiple stores each week to get the best deals. did we save money? yes, we saved quite a lot. and were we healthy? not even close. most of the food that you can buy with coupons is the absolute worst for you, the most processed, with the most unpronounceable ingredients.

this is not a post about couponing. the coupon story illustrates a big example from our lives of what can happen when you get swept up in something that excites you or scares you. in our case, we were living in a big, expensive city, and we felt both scared that we’d never be able to buy a home without taking extreme measures, and excited that we’d found a way (coupons) to accelerate our progress toward our goal. and what we were willing to toss aside in the equation? our health. (and perhaps some dignity and sanity.)

the coupon phase lasted less than a year, both because we realized how bad we felt eating mostly processed foods, and because it was just too much work. the time we spent finding the best deals became its own drain on our life force, and the whole process became its own source of stress.

if there’s one thing we believe, it’s this: life is too short to deal with unnecessary stress.

so we ditched the coupons, and even ditched the stores where we had been shopping with the coupons. we decided it was worth spending a little more to feel good, and to protect our long-term health. and now our grocery budget is quite a bit more than it was in those couponing days (though our last post explains how we save loads of money now).

your health is the single most important thing you have. without it, you can’t enjoy anything you work for in your life, or not for long, at least. and to us, that’s become our very highest priority, so that we can enjoy our financial independence for a long, long time. that means spending a little more, and sometimes cutting back elsewhere. we’re talking here about groceries, but you could make the same argument about a gym membership or athletic gear — both of which are worthwhile expenses if they keep you active — or preventive health care.

we see bloggers across the web talking about the importance of their portfolio, and the sacrifices they are willing to make to help it grow. or we see adventure bloggers writing about how they are willing to eat ramen noodles every day to afford their world travels. not often enough do we see people talking about the importance of health, and how fundamental it is to everything we want to do and see in our lives.

let’s all decide to change that. let’s think of our health as its own portfolio that’s just as important to invest in as that S&P index fund. a portfolio that’s just as important — or more so! — as your financial portfolio. an adventure that’s just as exciting as any trip. who’s with us?

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Categories: goals

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15 replies »

  1. I’m with you!
    For many of the people I work with, cars are an important aspect of one’s status.
    People will have huge car payments, long commutes, plus the expenses of car insurance, gas, and parking, just to get to work every day.
    This is expensive, and it’s also bad for the environment and one’s physical and mental health.
    I see walking/riding a bike/taking the bus as a cheaper, more environmentally friendly way to get to work.

    In your situation, yes, healthy food can be more expensive, but frankly, your health is worth the money.

    • I think walking/biking is kind of the magic formula — cheaper than any other transportation, best for the environment and great for your health and fitness! Sadly, we have no commute these days to force us out of the house (my office is 10 steps from bed!), but love that you have that option!

    • So glad! It’s nice to see someone going back and tapping the archives. :-) And yeah, completely agree with you — health is everything. It is the most important factor in our quality of life and how long we get to enjoy it, as well as so many of the costs that we’ll incur or not.

  2. Oh ya, someone else who thinks coupons (in general) are bogus! I do buy certain supplies from Costco when they are in the coupon book but that doesn’t require much planning other than remembering that we are getting low on environmentally friendly dish soap, etc. Through trial and error, I’ve always figured out the places to shop for the healthy food where you get the most bang for your buck. Usually within 2-3 months of living in a community you can sort this out. It’s not that complicated. My omnivore family of 3 spends $500-$600/month on groceries and supplies, eating mostly organic, in my opinion, quite luxurious food. That number includes some high end craft beer or wine now and again for those of us legally able to drink. Taking care of ourselves and putting the fuel in our bodies that makes it run best is super important!

    • Our food budget is definitely impacted by the “mountain tax,” but I think given that, we do pretty well eating mostly very healthily. And yeah, couponing led me astray, big time! Now the only coupons I really use are on the Whole Foods app. ;-)

  3. I didnt think of that. Mountain groceries are definitely pricey and the abundance of organic and reasonably priced produce in SoCal is amazing. We don’t even need to hit up Whole Foods.

  4. A spot on blog. I speak from personal experience that when you lose health, and no one can figure out why, much less how to fix it, you will pay anything in pursuit of something that MIGHT work. Especially when its pain, and especially when you can no longer do all the fun and soul enriching outdoor sports you used to.

    The good news is it finally, after 8 years, DID get diagnosed and fixed… (for those wondering, it was lyme…that’s a whole different blog :^)

    So i just discovered you guys a few days ago in the course of working on my own (somewhat delayed now) ER. Congrats on how close you are and I have REALLY enjoyed your posts thus far. I plan a daily lunch time read to get caught up.

    • Thanks, Heather! Ugh… I’m so sorry it took 8 years to figure out what was going on for you, but I’m super glad you figured it out and got relief! I’ve lived my whole life as a medical mystery (finally getting a lot of answers with my EDS diagnosis!), so I know how common it is to chase things that MIGHT work when no one can help you. Thanks so much for reading, and glad you got some health answers! :-)

  5. Without health there isn’t really any point in retireing early. I don’t want to retire early and only physically be able to lay on the couch how boring would that be. I work in healthcare and take care of patients that aren’t able to do anything that isn’t worth all the money in the world to me