It’s time to start thinking about your health like you do your personal finances. Building wealth doesn’t happen overnight, and neither does building health. Both require conscious lifestyle modifications, effort that takes diligence, self-control, and patience, and know-how so when you’re older you are set up for success. The following are some of the key ways to start building health wealth, just like you would your retirement fund. 

1. Start early

Experts agree that investing at an early age helps you not only practice good spending habits, like setting a budget or living below your means, it also allows time for your investments to compound. You’ve no doubt seen comparisons of an individual who begins investing when entering the workforce at 22 years old with a person who starts in their 40’s, showing that it takes much longer to reach the same goal after waiting two decades to begin. 

The same is true for health. Thinking about your health early, well before you’re likely to have a major health concern, is the best advice to give a young adult. A health habit made early in life can provide exponentially compounded benefits when you’re older, enabling you to make the most of your golden years.

If you are a parent, then start early with your children. Involve them in shopping, prepping, and cooking healthy meals. Exercise as a family – go for a walk after dinner, take a weekly Saturday morning hike, or spend 30 minutes dancing in the living room to the top 10 hits of the week. As a young adult, be thinking about habits that will impact your future health. For example, getting to sleep at a reasonable time, wearing sunscreen, not binge-drinking, and maintaining a healthy weight are just a few early habits to consider. 

 2. Do what you can

Financial blogs often suggest a number, like saving 15 percent of your annual salary for retirement. If that's unrealistic, then invest what you can. Some weeks you might only have $15 extra, some weeks you might have more. But do it week-by-week, year-by-year, and it all adds up.

Planning for health wealth is no different. This year you might have the time and money to attend a fitness class four times a week; maybe next year you could struggle to find 30 minutes to jog on the weekends. Do what you can. If time is a constraint to making your health habits a reality, then focus on small improvements. If you only have five minutes, then download a mindset app and use those minutes to focus on meditation. Only have an hour this week? Then get moving outside and take a call while you walk; or prep some healthy lunches so you don’t binge eat snacks. Next month, if you have more time, add a weekend yoga class or wake up earlier for a workout session before work. 

3. Add a bit each year

Many financial advisors tell you to add to your investments every year, because you are one year closer to retirement age when your income will likely be much less. If you invest five percent this year, then make it six percent next year. Most retirement plans allow you to make that small increase automatically because of much it's recommended to do so. 

Healthy habits are the same. An easy way to monitor your health achievements is through a fitness tracker. Count steps, calories burned, minutes in a heart rate zone, or miles ran, and add to it each year – even just a little. Find a fitness challenge online and join the movement in 2022 – lift 2,022 pounds a week, run 2,022 miles, or climb 2,022 flights of stairs a month. Then plan to do 2,023 next year.   

4. Set it and forget it 

Companies make an easy to build your wealth without thinking by electing an automatic deferral from your paycheck. You don't need to worry about transferring the money or spending it if it's not in your bank account. This amazing option allows you to automatically add to your wealth without needing to remember to do anything. 

If this sounds like your idea of investing, then the modern-day subscription service makes this option possible in the health space. Are you the type of person who doesn’t recognize you’ve run out of your multi-vitamin until the bottle is empty? Or maybe you just want one less thing on your to-do list each month. Set up your monthly supplements on a subscription service. They will arrive on schedule every time and you won’t need to do a thing, allowing you to passively support your health without actively doing anything – except to take them.

5. Set goals

Some of the biggest financial goals you read about online are things like starting a family, saving for a child's college fund, buying a home, paying off debt, or building your retirement nest egg. To get started, you need to understand where you are and what to do to get there. Many online calculators can be used to evaluate your current status. Input both subjective and objective details and your personalized plan will be calculated: how much you need to save, for how long, and at what level of risk to achieve your goal.

Starting a new health goal can happen the same way. Identifying what you’re working toward is half the battle. Your health goal might be to lose 15 pounds, resolve a nagging gastrointestinal issue, or finish a 5K. You need to know your current health status so you can set a plan to achieve your future goal. Start with an online quiz or at-home test. These health assessments utilize your subjective data (like symptoms, health goals, current lifestyle habits) and objective data (blood biomarkers, gut microbiome results) to give you a personalized plan to get started: a diet style, a supplement routine, and ways to modify your lifestyle to improve your health.

 6. Re-evaluate every year

With each passing year, you’re one year closer to retirement. And each passing year you should reevaluate your financial portfolio. Download the summaries of every account and look at their performance, growth, fees, and comparisons to other accounts. Are your accounts balanced? Are you diversified in the types of accounts to optimize growth but minimize risk for your age? Could you be doing something differently? This type of regular in-depth review can be done each year and becomes easier to understand as you watch the trends with each passing year.

Each year do a full health review – a comprehensive blood panel and microbiome test, a check-up with your doctor, check every medication and supplement you take. Download files from your smart scale, fitness tracker, and calorie counter. Review where you are today and determine if there are changes you need to make for next year. Are you spending your time, money, and effort in ways that will improve your health in the future?

 7. Work with a Professional

For a person who isn’t a financial expert or wants one-on-one advice, there are professionals who can help. We are quick to hire a professional to advise us about retirement, like a tax accountant or financial advisor.  So why not do the same and work with someone about your health?

Thorne has a network of health-care professionals all over the country who have expertise in every field. Get your health on the right path in 2022 and get just as focused on building your health as you do your wealth.

The ultimate financial goal is to retire with enough money saved to last you into your last days on earth. The same proposition can be made that the ultimate health goal is to retire with enough health so you can enjoy those days!