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Barbara Whelehan writes Boomer Bucks for

Health and wealth a good combo

What do health and wealth have in common besides the fact that they may appear together in a bad poem because they rhyme?

The poet and philosopher Virgil (circa 70-19 B.C.), whose own health was not terribly robust, is credited for saying, "The greatest wealth is health." He was seized by an illness while traveling and died at age 51.

Health and wealth go hand in hand
The two have a lot in common. For instance, financial problems cause stress, which impacts our health, while health problems adversely affect our personal finances.

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Solutions for problems with health or finances often involve the same terminology: We need to restrict our caloric intake and our spending or we risk poor physical and financial health.

Conscious effort is required to maintain health and amass wealth. 

Certified Financial Planner Barbara O'Neill experienced an "aha" moment when she listened to a lecture on nutrition delivered by registered dietician Karen Ensle. The two have since collaborated on the book "Small Steps to Health and Wealth," the result of her epiphany. You can read their book online at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Web site. A bonus: They don't make huge demands of their readers.

"If you start talking about saving $1 million for retirement or walking 10,000 steps a day, that can be pretty intimidating," says O'Neill. "We didn't want to turn people off and make them think that it's impossible, because anything you can do to improve your health and finances is better than doing nothing."

So the authors advocate small steps for Americans to begin extricating themselves out of trouble. What type of trouble are we in?

Here's just a handful of statistics cited in their book:
Almost two-thirds of Americans are overweight, obese or morbidly obese.
About 18 million Americans have diabetes and 41 million have pre-diabetes, a condition of elevated blood-sugar levels that can lead to diabetes if left unchecked.
Cigarette smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise are the leading preventable causes of death in this country.
The average U.S. household carries a credit card balance approaching $10,000.
In 2004 the median net worth of U.S. households was about $93,000.
In the same year about 1.6 million people filed for bankruptcy.
Next: "You could be paying for those hamburgers 15 years down the line."
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