12 Tips for Healthy Finances in the New Year

The New Year is a great time to make positive changes in your life. Unfortunately, some changes cost a significant amount of money. Purchasing a gym membership, going to the dentist, or working fewer hours can help your physical and emotional well-being, but the associated costs can quickly accrue.

However, you shouldn’t shy away from making a change just because of the expense. Making decisions to improve your health and well-being ultimatelyimproves your finances! Learn how improving your health now will save you money in the future with these 12 useful tips:

Dental Health

1. Floss Daily: It pays to take a few minutes out of your day to floss, which helps remove plaque from in between your teeth. Left alone, plaque becomes tartar, which can lead to gingivitis or periodontal disease and result in bone loss and loss of teeth. A few minutes a day flossing can save your health and your teeth. If you think you don’t have enough time to floss, do it while watching TV, in bed, or in the shower.

2. Go to the Dentist Every Six Months: A proper professional dental cleaning removes all the tartar in your mouth; and, regularly visiting your dentist can result in the early detection of diseases, both oral and non-oral. According to the American Dental Association, gum disease may be linked to other health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. Early detection of these conditions can result in less expensive, less invasive treatments. If you’re in need of affordable dental care for you or your family, DentalPlans.com offers affordable and easy-to-use alternatives to dental insurance with more than 30 discount dental plans to choose from.

3. Learn the Proper Way to Brush Your Teeth: Brush up on the proper way to brush your teeth. According to experts, proper brushing techniques include brushing all of your teeth thoroughly for at least two minutes. Using an electric toothbrush, even an inexpensive one from a drugstore, can help you correctly brush your teeth. It pays to take care of your teeth and reduce your long-term dental costs.

Physical Health

4. Protect Yourself From the Sun: To prevent early aging and health issues, cover up in the sun with protective clothing or with sunscreen. Other tips for protecting your skin from sun damage include limiting your time in the sun to early morning or late afternoon, and reapplying sunscreen every two hours. Check your skin regularly for any abnormalities in order to detect skin issues early.

5. Wear Sunglasses: In addition to protecting your skin, protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses. The sun’s harmful rays can cause cataracts and pterygium, which block your vision. People with light-colored eyes are especially vulnerable to the sun. Look for sunglasses that offer 99% or 100% UVA and UVB protection and that fully wrap around your face for maximum protection.

6. Get an Annual Physical: Even if you feel fine, get a physical every year. Your physician can check your cholesterol and check for other ailments including diabetes and high blood pressure. Simple blood tests can also give your doctor insight into your health and your vulnerability to diseases. Be sure to follow all of your doctor’s advice, including getting recommended tests and exams. Early detection can save you a lot of pain, heartache, and money.

7. Exercise Regularly: You have to exercise to stay fit, and with the rising costs of healthcare, you can also save money when you exercise regularly. Regular exercise helps prevent diseases including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. When you have a physical, your doctor will probably speak to you about exercising and the appropriate amount of exercise for you. He or she may help you create your own home workout plan so you can work out without getting a gym membership or work out without equipment.

8. Get Enough Sleep: Getting enough sleep improves your health and overall well-being. On average, adults need about eight hours of sleep. Lack of sleep may cause cardiovascular problems, including hypertension and a lower metabolism, and emotional issues, such as depression. Besides, life is just more enjoyable when you are alert and energized.

9. End Bad Habits: This year, make it a goal to break bad habits that negatively affect your health, well-being, and finances. For instance, smoking and excessive drinking cause health problems, and they also negatively impact your finances. In addition to spending a couple thousand dollars on cigarettes each year, smoking also results in increased costs for health insurance, healthcare, home and car cleaning, and dental care. Excessive drinking can also result in a variety of costly health issues, including alcoholism, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Emotional Health

10. Maintain a Budget: Worrying about debt can cause stress and stress-related health issues, and, if you don’t have a budget, you may feel overwhelmed about paying your bills. However, if you make a budget and track your spending, you can greatly reduce your stress level.

11. Balance Work and Home Life: Make sure your work-life balance is in check. At the end of your life, you won’t fondly remember all the hours you spent answering emails, developing an analysis, or sitting in meetings – you’ll remember the times you spent with your family and friends doing the things you love.

12. Have Some “Me” Time: What you do with your “me” time is up to you, but you should spend some time just relaxing. You might spend time praying or meditating, getting a massage, or writing in a journal. Use your “me” time to slow down and to really appreciate the joyous things in your life.

Final Thoughts

In addition to taking care of your health and your finances, make sure you have appropriate insurance coverage. Take the time to learn what is included in your policy and to learn more about benefits provided by your employer. For example, find out if your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program or a Flexible Spending Account that you can use with your insurance coverage. These programs come in handy, but if you don’t know they exist, they become lost opportunities.

How do you plan to have healthy finances in 2012? Share with us in the comments below.

Casey Slide lives in Atlanta and writes about health and wealth topics on the Money Crashers personal finance blog.

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