Five Minute Finances #15: Wash Your Hands

Five Minute FinancesFive Minute Finances is a series of tips on how you can save significant money or reorganize your financial life in just five minutes. These tips appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on The Simple Dollar.

Does the title surprise you? It shouldn’t. The financial costs associated with germs spread by hand-to-hand and hand-to-face contact numbers at least in the billions per year. For example, just in the health care industry, “transfer of germs by caregivers due to poor hand hygiene can contribute to nearly 90,000 patient deaths per year and $4.5 billion in medical expenses” (from Riley Hospital for Children). This doesn’t include the costs in lost productivity and medical costs from hand-to-hand and hand-to-mouth contact in the general population, which likely dwarfs this.

Odds are that sometime in the last several years, you’ve come down with an illness of some sort, and the odds are good that this illness was caused by something borne on your hands. A regular hand washing regimen, which takes just thirty seconds, can strongly reduce this risk.

All you have to do is wash your hands thoroughly each time you use the restroom. Moisten your hands, cover them thoroughly in soap, rinse, and dry, and you’ll eliminate the vast majority of the germs that may take up residence on your hands and thus vastly reduce the risk of illness due to these pathogens. This reduces medical costs and also lost productivity – time when you could either be making money or doing something you love instead of lying in bed feeling miserable.

Trent Hamm

Founder & Columnist

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 and still writes a daily column on personal finance. He’s the author of three books published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press, has contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and his financial advice has been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.