Budget Today for Your Future Health

A few years ago my wife and I became frustrated by Quicken’s continued decline on the Macintosh platform and, enticed by a colleague’s endorsement, we decided to try the financial software YNAB (You Need a Budget).

Unlike most other financial software, which focuses more on past spending and pays lip service to budgeting, YNAB’s unique approach to financial freedom is to stridently emphasize budgeting above all else. YNAB’s philosophy so strongly embraces honest budgeting and accountability that the ideal implementation of a YNAB budget does not allow forecasted income at all, instead structuring one’s monthly budget to spend the previous month’s income, not the current month’s income.

This paradigm shift away from “can I make enough this month to pay my bills?” into “how shall I structure my spending this month so that I can live off of last month’s income?” may take some time and sacrifice to achieve, but doing so results in a level of financial comfort foreign to most of us. It’s truly refreshing to spend with an eye towards the future instead of spending impulsively and then running a report to see how bad the damage is.

“That’s nice,” you say, but why am I talking about budgeting on a blog devoted to preventive health?

Simple. It occurred to me this evening while working in YNAB that most of us treat our health the way we treat our budget: we eat whatever we want, typically sugar, vegetable oils, and grains, and when our health slips into the red, we then talk about making changes to improve things. In other words, we treat instead of prevent.

That’s living Quicken style when we should be living YNAB style.

Imagine living a life of minimal sacrifice today that repays significant health dividends in the future. Imagine turning off the television so you can make preventive health your new hobby. So you can give up reacting to sound bites and physical maladies and truly take control of your future health.

The analogy between acting today to achieve future financial freedom and acting today to achieve optimal health as you age is a strong one. Both require some study and some effort and both can pay handsomely.

Think about “budgeting” for a healthier future. Your future self will thank you.

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