We have all heard the maxim, “Health is Wealth.” But have you ever considered if the opposite is true as well? What if “Wealth” is also “Health”? It’s posited that only 20% of our genome is responsible for our physical and mental health. If that’s true, then a massive 80% of our physical and mental health comes from the personal choices we make each day. We are conscious of what we eat, we exercise and try to treat ourselves and others with respect.
What if that same effort and intention we put into our physical and mental well-being and our day-to-day interactions could also be directed toward our financial well-being? What if we treated our finances with the same intention, respect and structure as we do to feeling, looking and thinking “good”?
How I Got Here
My name is Judith Lu and like some of you, I am a single mom, as well as a minority business owner. I know all too well the never-ending struggle of balancing work and home life. There are never enough hours in the day and no matter how much you get done, you still feel that nagging sensation that you are behind and failing at everything. But, things didn’t start out that way.
In fact, as the daughter of immigrant parents, personal finance and the struggles of a single mom were never further from my mind. As a child, I excelled in dance and was a competitive gymnast. When I got to college, I discovered a love of Flamenco dance and found myself after graduation moving to Southern Spain. Taking dance and Spanish classes during the day and working as a bartender at night, I earned a Diploma of Spanish as a Business Language and eventually returned to the states to go to graduate school and focus on business.
Even upon finishing graduate school with an MBA, I never set out to specialize in finance. In fact, I figured I could work in finance for a year or two, pay off some student loans and then settle back into my goal of helping people in the non-profit world. Well, twenty years later my life in finance has taken me to jobs around the world, with stops in New York, Miami, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, Switzerland and eventually back to Los Angeles.
A funny thing happened on this journey. I had a personal revelation that if I could help those with financial means to manage their wealth, why couldn’t I also help them figure out how to integrate that wealth as a means to give back and help those less fortunate? And a step further, how could I merge the idea of financial wellness with physical and mental wellness? A pie in the sky concept to be true, but as I rose through the ranks working for Wall Street banks and asset managers as almost always the only woman, let alone woman of color, in the room, I knew I had to realize this vision. And that’s when I discovered the concept of “Blue Zones.”
Blue Zone Philosophy
For the uninitiated, Blue Zones are unique communities dubbed by National Geographic around the world where people regularly live to be over 100 years old. They not only live longer lives, but also live happier and healthier lives free of stress and disease. Researchers discovered that those who live in “Blue Zones” have no specific DNA that contributes to this longevity. They do, however, live a life of intention involving structural simplicity, clarity, purpose and connection to those around them. As I delved deeper into the idea of Blue Zones, I happened upon the “Blue Zone Power 9.” These 9 tenants are the habits of the world’s healthiest and longest living people:
- Move Naturally
- Down Shift
- 80% Rule
- Plant Slant
- Wine with friends at 5
- Loved Ones First
- Right Tribe
So, how does all this tie into, “Wealth is Health”? In 2019, I started Blue Zone Wealth Advisors, a wealth management firm focused on inspiring financial well-being through clarity, purpose and empowerment. Now, I do encourage you to delve into each of the Power 9 in further depth, but for the purposes of my mission with Blue Zone Wealth Advisors, I’ve focused on three of the Power 9 to holistically enhance my clients’ financial well-being so they can better merge it with their physical and mental well-being and in turn, hopefully inspire greater well-being among those around them.
First is PURPOSE. Money means different things to different people. Having a sense of purpose about money and what is most important to you is step one, whether it’s meeting a specific financial goal, creating positive impact through investing, giving back to help others, or providing a legacy for your loved ones. When your investments have a purpose, it results in alignment with your personal values and allows you to feel good about your wealth.
Second is, RIGHT TRIBE. These are social circles that support healthy financial behavior. Having the “Right Tribe” of advisors allows you to connect the dots in your financial life. Your financial advisor should be speaking with your accountant, your bookkeeper, your banker, your trust and estate attorney and your insurance agent. The connectivity of your “Right Tribe” is vital to communicating and working together toward your financial health.
And three, DOWN SHIFT. When we simplify our financial lives, we engage in a routine that sheds stress. A good financial advisor helps to shed stress by 1) bringing transparency to your investment portfolio, 2) explaining what’s at risk, 3) building a financial plan so you understand how you’re spending and 4) aligning priorities with cash flow planning so you end up feeling a sense of ease and clarity about money.
Of course, nothing in life, especially in the world we live in right now is ever that simple. But we can encourage that simplicity and eventually introduce an ease to which we approach our financial health that mirrors and even enhances our physical and mental well-being. You do not need to make financial decisions in a silo. Rather, your intentional lifestyle can work in concert with your financial life to not only bring you greater clarity and a sense of well-being but also a calming sense of longevity and satisfaction.