Making smart money moves are important within all facets of our lives. Although we often think about money when it comes to bills, purchases, and investments, our overall health and wellness can be one of the largest costs included in our overall budgets. Relative to this, our diets and the way we eat can have a major impact on our personal finances day in and day out. If we end up having diabetes, high blood pressure, or extremely high cholesterol, these health issues can cost us thousands of dollars each and every single year to treat. Several years ago, the USDA (www.usda.org) released a report that stated medical costs that come as a result of obesity related problems are about $10,000 higher than they are for those with a healthy normal weight. What would it mean to put $10,000 back in your cash reserve, your children’s 529 college education fund, or your retirement savings? Back in the early 1990’s, the Government came out with nutrition facts to help us ultimately become more aware of the food we put in our bodies so we would begin to make healthier food choices. Guess what? It’s been 20 years and obesity is at an all-time high!
Recently in Japan, McDonald’s unveiled its highest calorie item ever called the Mega Potato, which is a table sized three quarters of a pound sack of French Fries. It’s supposed to be served as a ‘sharing’ size of French Fries, but let’s be honest; once this hits the table, those with a supersized craving of French Fries might be downing it as their entire meal. The Mega Potato is a container of fries double the size of an order of large fries and costs about $5. More importantly, at an estimated 1,142 calories it is the highest item ever in terms of calories that has hit the McDonald’s menu (and yes, that’s almost double the amount of calories than the now-defunct ‘Supersized’ option! Take that Morgan Spurlock!).
Look, we all intuitively know that fast food isn’t good for us or our overall health. Nobody downs three large Gordita Crunch’s at Taco Bell, two Big Mac’s at McDonald’s, or a whole ‘Wings & Things’ combo at Zaxby’s thinking these are good for a regular nutritious diet (unless you’re a broke college student). Fast food companies tried to change the game for us. They added salads to the menu (but beware of the dressings!), fruit choices in place of fries, smoothies, egg whites, and much more, but ultimately, we still go for the bad stuff that we’ve grown up with over the years. Over the past few years, many of the fast food chains took another step to deter us from eating food that isn’t good for us (well, even if they were forced to) by actually posting the calories of each and every item right on the big board when we order. Even as they post the caloric intake, does it actually make us think twice about what we order at fast food restaurants? Still, it’s likely we choose what is bad for us. What’s next?
Do we really expect sixteen year old Jimmy to stand behind the counter with his bright smile say to us, “Sir, I need to let you know that it appears to me you need to drop a few pounds. Since you are clearly overweight and pushing borderline obesity, I’m going to have to say a big negative sir to your order of the big burger, fries, and side milkshake. That belt looks a little tight on you. If you do me a favor and just step on the scale, I’ll highlight on the big board what you are allowed to order.” How funny would it be to see that in a fast food restaurant? If you think I’m kidding, Mayor Bloomberg might be contemplating this in New York City in the near future. Just kidding, I have no idea if he’s considering this. However, it does remind me of those recent Subway ‘Burger Town’ commercials, “do you want a side of badonkadonk butt?”
The bottom line behind all of this is that your health and food choices may impact the cost of your health care and potentially all of our health care costs in the future. Nobody is telling us we can’t enjoy some of these fast food treats from time to time. However, making a conscious effort to be healthier can be a huge smart money move to make so you can save money each year. If you eat too many of the wrong things, you might end up at a Chick-Fil-A sometime in the future and instead of “would you like to make that a combo” you just might hear “Ma’am/Sir, would you step on the scale please?”
CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Editor in Chief of Your Smart Money Moves
Co-CEO and Founder of oXYGen Financial, Inc – The Leaders in Gen X & Y Financial Advice and Services
Ted Jenkin is one of the foremost knowledgeable professionals in giving financial advice to the X and Y Generation.
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