I had an unfortunate incident at the gym last week that some of you might be familiar with. While I was doing my best hamster-on-a-wheel impression on the stair-climber, the football highlights showing on one of the TVs came as a welcome distraction from the fact that I hate doing cardio. Apparently, the middle-aged guy in the one size too small spandex didn’t share my same gratitude for ESPN, so he started flipping through the channels without the courtesy of asking me first. Not being one for confrontation over such trivial things, I channeled my inner zen and just hoped that he wouldn’t land on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”.
Before I knew it, I was being forced against my will into watching the financial porn that is CNBC. For those of you lucky enough to have not witnessed the circus of the show “Mad Money”, it’s 30 minutes of Jim Cramer prognosticating about what stocks you should and shouldn’t buy, and all with a great deal of emotional fanfare. As I watched the strange scene of the red-faced host frantically waving his arms in the air to the soundtrack of Jay-Z in my headphones, I actually had a revelation…
I’ve been going about my entire career the wrong way. I realized that people don’t want advice. Taking advice usually involves actual effort, but who wants to do that? People don’t want to be told to live within their means, they want you to find them the next Google. So it seems to me that if I’m going to be elevated to financial guru status anytime soon, I’m going to need to start giving out “hot tips” instead.
That’s when those pesky ethics kicked in and I had a flashback to my finance teacher in grad school shattering a few dreams when he told the class that nobody, including Jim Cramer, has a crystal ball. And the evidence shows that he’s right. Forbes magazine recently presented a study that tracked the accuracy of predictions from dozens of “gurus” since 1998, finding that as a group they were correct only 48% of the time. And how did our friend at “Mad Money” fare? His forecasts were correct a whopping 46.8% of the time. So the reality is that any given prediction from an expert has about a coin flip’s chance of being right, and a monkey throwing darts at a dartboard might do better at finding you a good company to invest in.
So if the fancy experts can’t reliably pick individual stocks, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I can’t either. But in my title, I did promise a hot investment tip, and I really do have one. One that I guarantee hands-down will produce great returns for the rest of your life. An investment that no matter what happens with the stock market, Federal Reserve, or anything else in the economy, is going to pay great dividends. And no, I’m not talking about an annuity. I’m talking about making an investment in your health.
Everyone is well aware of what avoiding a steady diet of Krispy Kremes and Netflix will do for your waistline, energy levels and general health; but there are also some huge financial benefits. Consider that collectively as a nation we will spend over $3,200,000,000,000 (that’s $3.2 trillion, but all those zeros are so much more dramatic) on healthcare just this year. No matter how you write it that’s a huge number and one that I’m quite confident could be lowered drastically with a few more vegetables and a little sweat. A few more fun facts to back up my “hot tip”…
1 in 3 kids born today will end up developing diabetes
Health care spending is five times higher for people with a chronic condition
The average per capita healthcare spending in 2013 was $9,255
Medical bills are the #1 cause of bankruptcy in the US
A couple retiring at 65 can expect to spend almost $400,000 on out-of-pocket healthcare costs over their lifetime
You can see with those numbers how a few bucks a month spent at your local gym could give you a pretty incredible return on your money. So the next time I’m struggling to find the motivation to power through a session on the stair-climber, I’ll take my own advice and remember that I’m not sweating, I’m investing!
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