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MoneyTalk: The Relationship Between Health and Finances

September 24, 2019 @ 3:57 pm CDT

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In this episode, Dr. Barbara O’Neill discusses the research around wealth’s impact on health. In addition, she talks about some strategies and tools practitioners can use with clients and students to talk about health when discussing finances.

  1. The webinar included an activity called the Wellness Wheel. Can you describe how it works?

The Wellness Wheel looks like a pizza pie with 8 slices representing 8 aspects of wellness: health, money, work environment, home environment, relationships, personal and spiritual development, fun, and career. People rate themselves from 1 (worst) to 10 (best) with a dot on the line for each area of wellness and “connect the dots.” If they rate themselves with 10s in each area of wellness, their wheel looks like a “well-rounded” circle. Otherwise, their connected dots look like a flat tire (or an amoeba). In summary, the Wellness Wheel is a visual depiction of a person’s overall wellness.

  1. The webinar also included a great quote about health and wealth. What is the key take-away?

The quote came from Virgil more than 2020 years ago. He stated that “The greatest wealth is health.” What this means is that all the money in the world will do you no good if your physical health is poor or deteriorating. Unfortunately, some people sacrifice their health in the pursuit of wealth and don’t get to fully enjoy the fruits of their labors (e.g., 60- to 80-hour work weeks).

  1. What are some of the interesting findings that you shared about health and wealth relationships?

The number of research studies linking health and financial practices is increasing. Four recent studies that I shared were:

  • A study that found that healthier people have higher lifetime out-of-pocket costs for health care than others. Reasons include more out-of-pocket expenses and an increased likelihood of chronic conditions and long-term care expenses in later older age.
  • A study that found that healthy living habits such diet and physical activity improve during tough economic times such as economic recessions. People who are unemployed or work fewer hours have more time to exercise and to eat better.
  • A study that found that contributors to a workplace 401(k) plan were more likely than non-contributing co-workers to take action to correct poor physical health indicators revealed during an employer-sponsored health exam. The results were attributed to conscientiousness in both aspects of life.
  • A study found that people who read nutrition food labels were more likely (than those who don’t read labels) to engage in financial planning activities
  1. What is the Personal Health and Finance Quiz that was described in the webinar?

The Personal Health and Finance Quiz is a 20-question assessment tool used to determine how frequently people perform 10 positive health practices and 10 positive financial practices. It has been used for the past five years to study relationships between various health and financial practices with different independent and dependent variables. To date, all hypothesized variable relationships have been positive and statistically significant. Performance of specific positive health practices is associated with positive financial practices and performance of specific positive financial practices is associated with positive health practices

  1. What are some interesting research findings from analyses of data from the Personal Health and Finance Quiz?

Three studies especially had interesting findings and were mentioned during the webinar:

  • The first study investigated the relationship between planning behavior and health and financial practices. Respondents who reported frequent planning behavior had higher health and financial practice scores than others and those with higher health practice scores also had higher financial practice scores.
  • A second study found positive and statistically significant relationships between using a budget and 18 positive health and financial practices. Perhaps this is because both budgeting and weight control (reflected in health practices that control calories) both require discipline and staying within limits.
  • A third study found that respondents who reported reading nutrition labels had higher health and financial practice scores than others. Also, again, those who had higher health practice scores had higher financial practice scores.


September 24, 2019
3:57 pm CDT
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