Slimmer Waist, Fatter Wallet

Your exercise, eating and sleep habits are all wreaking havoc with your your financial well-being.

We all have biological needs — sleep, food, water, exercise — that need to be taken care of in order to keep your body in top working order. But did you realize checking the same boxes is also key to maintaining your financial equilibrium? That’s the word from Dr. Brad Klontz, financial psychologist, who says if you don’t pay attention to these important line items, your wallet will suffer as a result.

Get 7 to 9 hours of shut-eye

It may seem counterintuitive for those of you who stay up late working, but getting more sleep may actually make you more productive — and richer. A 2015 study conducted by Matthew Gibson, assistant professor at Williams College, and Jeffrey Shrader, research assistant at the University of California, found that people who increased their sleep by one hour a night saw their pay increase by five percent in the long-run. Too little sleep can also mean being inefficient — 24 percent of Americans said that lack of sleep makes them unproductive, according to a survey by CareerBuilder.

Here’s why: when you stay up late and don’t give your brain a rest, it can’t go through it’s natural cleaning mechanism. When we don’t get enough sleep, it’s like our brain is a dirty kitchen, says Nancy Rothstein founder of the website thesleepambassador.com. When your brain goes through that cleaning mechanism, it can function properly. And when you’re able to function properly, your decision-making skills are sharper. This means you can realize that buying everything in your Amazon cart is a bad idea because yesterday you went a little overboard at Target.

If you’re struggling with getting some extra Zzz’s — log off. Stop scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Turn off notifications or put your phone on silent recommends Sarah Asebedo, Ph.D., CFP and president of the Financial Therapy Association, who notes that while you may not be able to control when your baby falls asleep, you can control signing off email.

Foods for finances

Eating healthy, done carefully, can be as good for your wallet as it is for your body. Filling up on in-season (and therefore less expensive) fruits and veggies can help fight off viruses and infections because they boost your immune system. This’ll likely save a few trips to the doctors office (especially during flu season) which means saving money on medication and visits. That also means missing less work — which can translate to not losing income or losing opportunities for advancement.

More specifically, foods like kale, blueberries and avocado can increase your focus and productivity — allowing you to get more done in your day. If the thought of eating a sad spinach salad makes you want to run to the nearest vending machine, try sneaking spinach into a smoothie instead, or throw it into the pan with your morning scrambled eggs.

Drinking water and staying hydrated are equally important. And the best part? Water is (mostly) free. Swap the soft drink or the cocktail for plain tap water (or as we call it here, New York’s Finest). You’ll be surprised how much better you feel, and how much you’ll save by making that simple switch. Staying hydrated has the added benefit of keeping you fuller longer — which means fewer trips to the vending machine or coffee shop down the block.

Slimmer you, heftier wallet.

Finally, if you’re looking for motivation to hit the treadmill (or the streets), a 2016 survey from the Journal of the American Heart Association found walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week translates to a savings of about $2,500 annually on health care. Regular physical activity also helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, breast and colon cancers. Oh, and it boosts your mood, relieves stress and generally leaves you feeling happy. “Research shows that happy people behave differently with their money — they tend to take more time making decisions and they have great financial control,” says Asebedo. Sounds like a good, all around, plan.

With Hattie Burgher

Jean Chatzky