Written By: Valerie Richards
Certain life events should come with a “How To” guide. Age-Proof, Living Longer Without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip, by Jean Chatzky, NBC financial editor and financial wellness expert, and MIchael F. Roizen, MD, is a health and financial life guide that gives readers tools to live a “winning life.” In the foreword, Dr. Mehmet C. Oz defines a winning life as “living strong, living healthy, living with low stress and high passion, living with security, and living with the people you love.” How is this achieved? The book is broken down into eight parts to answer this very question, emphasizing how and why health and wealth are so important and intertwined.
Part I—System Checks, The Science of Diagnostics is full of ways to assess your current health and financial posture. It provides several formulas for tracking your current situation and for getting where you want to go. An important number in tracking financial health is determining net worth, which takes a look at your whole financial picture. This is important as a high salary alone does not ensure a healthy financial picture. Having significant debt has become the norm, however, “a little debt may harm you, may age you, but won’t kill you; the more you have, the worse it gets. Formulas for quick insight and encouragement are also given to improve health.
Part II—Breaking Bad Behavior. “Rhythm happens not just in music, but all around us—whether it is waves crashing, rain dropping, or a sun setting. For many of us our rhythm—spending more than we earn or eating more than we should is off, and we have to readjust our life playlist to find a new beat.” Part II is about finding a new beat, creating new healthy financial habits and ways to deal with stress. My favorite financial tip is to accelerate savings by increasing your savings every time you get a raise or windfall. As for dealing with stress, I found the recommendations to be aware of your stressors in order to be prepared for them to be useful. The authors recommend an app called “Sharecare App” track stress and emotions.
Part III—Pressure Situations. This section is all about managing stress, which they refer to as “the greatest threat to your health and wealth. They further stress that the biggest way to combat financial stress is through a windfall of information.
Part IV—Team Works is all about surrounding ourselves with people who help us be our best. Throughout the book there are conversation bubbles between “Jean” and “Dr. Mike,” which give a personal and practical approach to reinforce information in the text. The conversation bubbles not only demonstrate how health and wealth are truly coupled in the story of our lives, they also create an atmosphere of chatting with friends and provide practical ways to apply the information in the text.
The authors emphasize that no single person has the time or knowledge to adequately address aspects of their own health and wealth. The solution is to create a team “that fits your personality and problems.” The chapter “Inside your Health Huddle,” provides detailed information on creating a successful team to guide you through the areas of health and wealth. A team is essential to success in these areas, yet difficult for many to build as we find these topics private and difficult to discuss. In writing extensively on the importance of a team, how to do it, and showing that even experts have a team, it empowers the reader to mirror this strategy in their own lives.
Part V—Survival Instinct. Here we learn about the power of nutrition, the fuel we put in our bodies and how it affects performance. The authors share a fun mnemonic device in this part to remember oils to stay away from: SSSSnake Oil Foods: Saturated and trans fats, simple sugars, simple syrups, stripped carbs. Jean’s trick to eating healthy and saving money include grocery shopping online at peapod.com and meal planning on the weekends.
Part VI—The Science of Catching up. This chapter is all about getting life under control whether financial or physical. The best part about this chapter is the reinforcement that it’s never too late to change. This part outlines how to reduce debt, repair a credit score, and break bad habits. “You can’t take back time, but you can make up for lost time.” I know after reading this section I am going to make sure to get back into a workout routine.
Part VII—Making a Living. “Happy people have younger hearts, younger arteries, fewer infections and cancers, better brain function, the ability to recover more quickly from surgery and cope better with pain, lower blood pressure and longer life expectations than unhappy people.” This section is about being happy with your life. It breaks down different aspects of health insurance and the importance of having it, employee benefits, and my favorite, IRAs.
Part VIII—Domestic Engineering. The Science of Home “And in the pursuit of an Age Prooflife, part of the journey is about stripping your life of the excess so you can make the most of what’s most important to you.” From making your room perfect for sleep, to the aspects of what makes a house perfect for later stages of life. This section is about health and happiness in the home. Your home should lift your spirits and your health. Several charts in this section help the reader assess whether homeownership is right for them, as Jean states, and I fully agree from my own experiences. When it comes to homeownership it should “bring enough emotional benefit,” as home ownership is never easy.
The book is written for people in all financial and health situations. It shows steps to take if you have neglected these aspects of your life, and also gives concrete numbers for those looking to measure if they are on track. It is an incredibly informative book, yet the information is fun and broken up into lists, charts, and sections called “Age Proof Essentials,” which make it easy to comprehend. Age Proof delves into the psychology behind our actions and how this information can help us change. The goal is to empower the reader to take action and get help.
Valerie Richards volunteers at Navy Marine Corps Relief Society in Gulfport, MS, is a 2015 FINRA fellow and a Coast Guard spouse. She is a 2001 graduate of George Mason University with a bachelor’s in government and international politics and holds a teaching certificate from Daytona State University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org