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An ounce of prevention is a life-sentence to eating the recommended number of vegetables. I need them but prefer something melty and cheesy.
The irony is that recently I’ve accepted a cheese sensitivity. A mindful realization that when I eat cheese-heavy foods like pizza or Alfredo, I will feel the urge to vomit while still consuming the dairy delight.
My body rejects cheese, but that hasn’t changed how the gooey goodness tastes. For every ounce of cheese consumed, there is a painful price tag.
Prevention is like that but with less gas.
Everything the light touches is prevention’s kingdom.
An emergency fund can prevent going into debt when a surprise $545 medical bill comes calling. Eating vegetables and working out can prevent awkward conversations with my doctor about high cholesterol and blood pressure pills. Listening to Mr. BuLL have a monologue about work nuances prevents couples counseling.
Prevention is challenging because it’s a long-term commitment. One salad doesn’t equal a lifetime of health. One dollar saved doesn’t cover a $545 medical bill. Instead, it’s the cumulative effect of tiny, petty things, day after aching day even when I would prefer to eat family-sized pizza every day.
Selfcare before Disrepair
As a female who drank too much productivity haterade, I struggle with selfcare. Selfcare feels valid only after work hours are complete and the today’s to-do items are checked off a list.
Selfcare has gradually shifted to a priority not a minority. Just like turning off a screaming alarm clock when I would rather sleep for another 8 hours.
Selfcare before disrepair looks and feels like 9 hours of sleep; fruit, veggies, and lean meat as a baseline for heart and mental health; and water as a default.
These habits weren’t automatic, but a lifestyle built over time. In my less wrinkly years, I could function on a few hours of sleep, soda, and fast food. Now, my body tells me directly that I’m making poor life choices in the form of exhaustion, crankiness, and repeated Tums infusions.
Going from questionably healthy to healthy with questions was a lifestyle overhaul that happened with slight adjustments over many years.
I used to hate mornings because waking up and functioning felt like the human form of a warm owl pellet. I would combat that feeling with coffee. Instead of a slow release of energy, the caffeine high would backfire and I’d end up unable to sleep. So, I scaled back caffeine and started going to bed earlier. Years later after a rinse and repeat routine, I identify as a morning person and have more energy at the beginning of the day instead of the end.
Also, a lifetime ago, I hated running like a crated cat headed to the vet.
When I choose a 4-year military contract, I routinely ran because when I didn’t, I could barely pass the fitness tests. After years of mandatory running, the rhythm went from a crutch to clutch.
Many moons later, when I feel a bubbling nervous energy, I go for a run. When stress threatens to overwhelm a perfectly nice day, I run. When I need to find solutions to dilemmas, I run.
The selfcare default took years to enact, but now it’s my identity. I find comfort in healthy food, active hobbies, and sleep. It took time, but I’m reaping the benefits of a healthy BMI, low cholesterol, and brief but pleasant doctor discussions.
An emergency fund is a strange way to keep money. It’s a fund I hope to never use but am grateful to have.
Wealth Noir sees into the bottomless pit of emergency funds, “Your emergency fund is the foundation of your financial health and future wealth.”
Recently, I received a $545 medical bill. A hefty bill from last year’s and this year’s copays of allergy shots and chiropractor visits. I collect copays like a kid collects Pokemon cards (still a thing, right?).
This bill should have been less, so I called and spoke with customer service. An audit started, so some of those charges could go away. Yet, I still had to pay the balance in full in less than 2 weeks or face finance charges.
As a financial nerd, I use a zero-based budget. At the end of the month, I have zero cents, not $545.
My ounce of prevention with financial fitness is an emergency fund. I have two months of post-tax pay in a savings account. Per the sad creed of all savings accounts, the interest generated is small and far from current inflation rates.
The high returns come from peace of mind when unexpected bills threaten to upend savings goals.
I paid $545 in full because I had an emergency fund. Without it, the surprise bill would have been more painful and expensive with finance charges.
An Ounce of Prevention
In a world where inflation is daily news, chronic crisis, and climate change, an ounce of prevention pays long-term dividends.
Investing in selfcare with sleep and healthy habits pays big dividends in long-term health and happiness. An emergency fund is how I ensure that life’s surprises down spill their drama all over my personal finances.
I didn’t start my journey at prevention hero. Instead, it’s been a slow, gradual slog that started at zero, but an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of medication.