Start taking small steps to health and wealth

Financial problems negatively affects health, and poor health negatively affects personal finances. Small Steps to Health and Wealth can help.

small steps to health and wealth graphic with food groups on plate and people standing on podium

Often, we have intentions to improve our health and our personal finances, and struggle to make lifestyle changes about our behaviors. The Cooperative Extension system has Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ (SSHW) to provide you help.

The statistics are startling. According to the 2017 Gallup Heathway’s Index, Michigan ranks 41st for overall wellbeing. Chronic diseases are among the most prevalent, costly, and preventable of all health issues. Over 60% of Michigan adults have at least one chronic condition, which results in spending 75 cents of every health care dollar to treat these conditions. Over 95% of Michigan adults report engaging in unhealthy behaviors that increase their risk of developing a chronic disease, as found in a Michigan Department of Chronic Health report in 2014. At the same time, many families are rethinking their finances around high debt and low savings. Financial problems negatively affect health, and poor health negatively affects personal finances. Both issues develop slowly and take time to address.

The SSHW program provides information to help you take charge of your health and financial future. It was designed to motivate participants to take action to improve their lives by making small, positive behavior change, such as saving five dollars a day or cutting 100 calories per day. After reading about the many similarities between health and wealth issues, program participants can then choose between 25 behavior change strategy fact sheets with health and wealth “action steps”. This provides an opportunity to apply the strategy to health and wealth goals and life situation.

The authors suggest adopting no more than three or four strategies and to coordinate those that are related such as automating a good habit to defy a statistic and to reach a recommended benchmark. The list of strategies can be thought of as a “menu” from which participants will choose the ideas that work best for their individual situation and goals.

It has been well documented that when people monitor their behavior and measure how they’re doing, they are often inspired to do better and achieve positive results. The Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ program provides tools to help participants monitor their goals. Examples include various paper tracking forms which can be downloaded to keep track of daily activities. “SSHW is a great way to convert ambitions, like losing weight and saving money, into daily action steps,” notes Dr. Barbara O’Neill, Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management for Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

Changing long term habits around health and finances is not easy but becoming necessary for many Michigan residents. Having tools like SSHW helps to focus and guide personal action steps.

Did you find this article useful?