The connection between health and finances

While wealth won’t ensure wellness, bad money habits can be detrimental to your health.

Most of the time, when I tell parents I write a blog about teaching money skills to kids, they totally get it. They understand that the earlier children begin to learn concepts such as spending versus saving, delayed gratification, budgeting, and so on, the better the chances they will be able to put those smart money lessons into action by the time they become adults.

Occasionally, though, I get a different reaction. Something along the lines of: “Oh, I don’t want my kids to focus too much on money. So long as they’re healthy, that’s all that really matters.”

I completely agree with the sentiment — I don’t want my son to be driven by money, either. Where my view differs, however, is that I don’t think teaching financial skills makes kids obsessed with money. On the contrary, it demystifies the concept and gives them a reality check as to what they can expect money to do, or not do, for them in the future.

Regarding the health aspect, I think we can all agree that money is nothing without well-being. But the two aren’t mutually exclusive, even in a country like Canada that has universal health care.

Knowing how to create a budget based on needs and wants, for example, can be invaluable when faced with rising food prices that make it challenging to buy healthy, nutritious food. Similarly, because Canada lacks a national pharmacare program, knowing the importance of saving for a rainy day and keeping an emergency fund can make the difference between being able to afford prescribed medications or not — as is the case for about one in 10 Canadians.

Understanding how credit cards work (it’s not free money!) and the concept of double-digit interest can prevent young people from digging themselves into a financial hole that can cause years of stress and even physical pain, according to new research published in the journal Psychological Science.

“Our findings reveal that it physically hurts to be economically insecure,” says the study’s lead researcher Eileen Chou, a public policy professor at the University of Virginia. “Results from six studies establish that economic insecurity produces physical pain, reduces pain tolerance, and predicts over-the-counter painkiller consumption.”

This is, of course, in addition to previous research linking debt to depression. 

I’m under no illusions that financial literacy is a cure-all. But ignoring it altogether seems like bad medicine. 

Keep the conversation going

Have you ever felt emotional stress or physical pain because of money? Post a comment below.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of CPA Canada.

About the Author

Tamar Satov

Managing Editor, CPA magazine
Tamar is a journalist specializing in business, parenting and personal finance. She blogs regularly in this space with advice and anecdotes on her efforts to raise a money-smart kid.