Op-ed: Are Money Worries Making You Fat?

By David Rae

Originally published on Advocate.com September 20 2012 3:00 AM ET

So you’ve hired a personal trainer, improved your diet, hit up Barry’s Boot Camp and still don’t look like a member of the U.S. Gymnastics Team.  Are you stressed about money?

A May 2012 study from Aviva USA and the Mayo Clinic suggests that financial stress may cause men to gain weight.  I’m pretty sure this isn’t the only thing causing the extra inches on your waistline. But anything that may be hiding the results of all those countless sit-ups you’ve been doing is worth taking a look at, right?

“Men who are extremely stressed are five times more likely to experience significant weight gain compared to unstressed men. The greatest reported stressor is financial concerns,” according to Philip Hagen, MD, the medical director of Mayo Clinic Embody Health and the vice chair of the Mayo Clinic’s Division of Preventative and Occupational Medicine.  The study questioned 2,000 U.S. men and women on their health habits and financial preparedness. 

The study went on to say that half of men don’t discuss their finances with others. And only one in five is working with a financial adviser. I know working with me helps my clients alleviate  some of the financial stress from their lives.  If I can help you look fabulous in the new swimsuit you just bought (on sale), all the better.

This survey reminds me of a longtime investor who was stressed and frazzled by spending several hours a day following the stock market’s ebb and flow. He’d accumulated  hundreds of pages of financial information, research as he called it. If nothing else, his hiring a financial planner took this “research” off his plate so he could go back to running his business. To say he is more relaxed when discussing his finances is an understatement. He still keeps a stack of financial paperwork, but now it’s a stack of unopened envelopes. The stack contains all the mail he’s received about his various accounts, but he works with his adviser on all the details related to his financial plan.Working with an adviser on a financial plan has eliminated two to three hours a day of financial stressing; whether he uses that time to go to the gym is his choice.

To help you make a well-informed decision, there appear to be four areas in which a financial planner could directly add value, beyond six-pack abs. First, a good adviser could help you stick with your savings plan. Second, an adviser may help you create a portfolio that is suited to your specific long-term goals. Thirdly, the adviser's guidance should help reduce the time, energy and worry that goes into managing your own investments. And last but certainly not least, he or she should coach you out of making the great behavioral mistakes such as throwing too much money at an investment fad near its top or panicking completely out of your investments near a bottom. These two mistakes may cause investors to not merely underperform the stock markets, but even to underperform their own investments.

All of these benefits of working with a trusted financial planner combined should help reduce your overall financial stress. If the Mayo Clinic’s assertion is right, getting you financial house in order may actually help you lose weight.

Whether you are about to retire or just entering the work force, the best advice I can give you now is to get your head out of the sand, pay yourself first, and start accumulating wealth now. Just getting a financial plan won’t do as much to make you skinny as proper diet and exercise. But every little bit helps. 

 

DAVID RAE, CFP®, is a retirement income specialist with Trilogy Financial Services. For more information about reaching you financial goals visit www.davidraefp.com  Follow him on twitter @davidraecfp

Securities and advisory services offered through National Planning Corporation (NPC), Member FINRA, SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor. Trilogy and NPC are separate and unrelated entities.