McMansion Economics

By Sharon Martinez
In December 2, 2010
Comments off

Spend Some of this on a Healthier Lifestyle

In last Sunday’s Los Angeles Times there was an opinion piece written by three economists.  Entitled McMansion Economics, their essay points out that the size of the average American home has ballooned from 1700 square feet to over 2400 square feet since 1980.  Larger homes mean higher utility bills, more stuff and furnishings, a bigger mortgage.  They write, “if Americans are willing to rethink their assumptions about what their houses should be, we could radically improve the lives of those who live in those homes.”  By downsizing, we could redirect a greater proportion of our income to education, cultural enrichment, and the cost of a healthier lifestyle.

I was thrilled to see someone acknowledge that a healthier lifestyle should be a financial priority.  The article points out that in China, families devote a larger share of their income to education and health than we do here in the United States.  I’d like to see more of us find a way to cover the cost of taking better care of ourselves.  Why?  In a 2009 study, The President’s Council of Economic Advisors reported that the life expectancy of an American is now below that of any other high-income country, and many middle-income countries.

I had a nice discussion with my patient Sue Gentle recently.  She is setting aside money in a Health Savings Account for 2011 to cover the cost of things like herbs, acupuncture and chiropractic care.   Good going, Sue.

They used to say, “The guy who dies with the most toys, wins.”  But the truth is, any one of us would swap their worldly goods for a chance at better health.  Let’s take that opportunity now.

Comments are closed.