One of the main deterrents for people when getting healthy is the myth that it costs a lot of money. It’s easy to see why you may think that, as some studies have shown that the average American will spend over $100,000 on their health over the course of a lifetime! That’s a big scary number, but the reality is that it comes out to about $2,000 a year.
The good news is: you are in control! If you introduce some of our tips to healthy living on a budget into your routine, your annual and lifetime spending on your health can be much lower.
New Year Health Goals = Financial Opportunity
Making new year health goals is not only good for your health, it will be good for your finances too. When you think about your retirement and what you’ll need to reach that goal, the first items that come to mind are an IRA, a 401K, and a healthy investment portfolio. But, your health is often an overlooked part of a retirement strategy. If you really think about it, what good will retirement be if you’re too weak or sick to enjoy it? There are some obvious advantages to being healthy, but many people don’t think about the effect it has on your bank account. In order to make educated financial decisions and maximize your health, it’s important to keep a long-term view of your overall goals and set milestones along the way to help you achieve them.
First off, the healthier you are, the less you’ll pay for health insurance premiums. This will have an immediate effect on your monthly costs and can amount to savings of tens-of-thousands of dollars over the course of a lifetime.
How you eat also has a large impact on both your health and your finances. While eating out or eating fast food may be considered easier, the negative impact these types of foods have on your health is well-documented. There’s a well-circulated myth that eating healthy is expensive, but the surprising truth is that you can eat an entire day’s worth of healthy meals for the cost of one fast food meal. In addition to choosing healthy options, when you eat at home you can choose the portion size, the ingredients, and the types of meals you want to eat in advance, so you can switch it up and keep it fun.
Figuring out how to be healthy on a budget and reach your new year health goals may take time, but it’s not impossible!
How To Be Healthy on a Budget
Invest Time in Meal Prep
If you’re trying to truly learn how to lead a healthy lifestyle on a tight budget, then you want to start with saving money on the cost of food, and the best way to do this is to meal prep. Making a meal plan for the week, along with a corresponding grocery list you can reasonably stick to, will help you to:
- Reduce impulse buys
- Make sure you have healthy options on busy days
- Avoid food waste
- Give you a clear budget for grocery expenses
Becoming more conscious of what you are buying, what you are spending, and what you are eating are just some of the most important components of staying healthy on a budget. By doing meal prep, you’ll also get the added bonus of knowing how food impacts both your body and your bank account. Overtime, this awareness will make healthy living on a budget easier, because you’ll realize how much you were spending on bad food before!
Here are some great strategies to help you get started on meal prepping:
- Set aside time each week for meal prepping—like an hour every Sunday
- Join a wholesale club for increased savings on a purchase. You don’t have to get fancy, Sam’s Club will work just fine!
- Make multiple meals ahead of time that can be frozen and cooked on busier days #freezermeals
- Take advantage of slow cooker meals as an easy and inexpensive dinner option
- Switch up meal plans for variety and to keep it fun!
By integrating meal prep into your weekly schedule and even making the whole process and family bonding experience, you’ll work toward your new year health goals without even realizing it.
Pack A Lunch for Work
Using leftovers to pack a lunch will help you in a few ways; it will help you cut down on food waste, allow you to ensure you have healthy food options at lunchtime, and limit the amount of money you spend on food by eliminating the need to go out for lunch. It will also save you time on your lunch break, making it feel longer and giving you time to call a friend or family member to check in or just relax with a cup of coffee and disconnect for a few extra minutes. These are all things that can contribute to your new year health goals!
Avoid Impulse Shopping
Most people realize quickly that the hungrier you are when you go shopping, the more likely you are to choose high caloric foods that are both more expensive and worse for your health. You are also more likely to impulse purchase snacks and other food items that were not part of your original grocery list. So if you’re aiming for healthy living on a budget, you should avoid being hungry when you shop!
If you end up at the grocery store and feel like you can’t resist your urges, try sticking to the outer parameter of the grocery store. Oddly enough, most grocery stores keep the healthier departments, such as produce and fresh meats, on the outside parameter, while the inner aisles house all the pre-prepared meals and potentially expensive, high-calorie foods.
It’s not only important to eat a snack or filling meal before you do your grocery shopping, it’s also a good idea to make your list and stick to it! This is an extremely easy and cheap way to be healthy, because you can plan your list around your budget and your healthy meals. Another great way to avoid impulse shopping is by purchasing your groceries online. Try out services like Farmbox Direct and Farm Fresh to You to get fresh produce shipped right to your doorstep.
Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk is the best way to cut your grocery bill by over 75 percent! That amounts to a huge savings on a monthly basis, and can amount to thousands of dollars over the course of a lifetime. Combine bulk buying with grocery coupons and cash back rewards and you’ll be racking up the savings and cash in no time! Here are some of the best grocery stores for buying in bulk and figure out how to be healthy on a budget:
Can you think of any other cheap way to be healthy that is as easy as this? You can literally pop your leftovers in the microwave and you’ll be saving money! If you do your meal prep right, then you will have leftovers to use for lunches and other meals off and on throughout the week. Taking advantage of leftovers is the best way to cut back on food waste, and it will seriously help you stretch your food budget a little further. If you have too many leftovers or get sick of eating a certain dish, just freeze the leftovers for another quick and easy-to-reheat dinner option for busy nights or when you just don’t feel like cooking.
Find Healthy Substitutions
Living a healthy lifestyle means eliminating things like white bread, soda, candy, cake, cookies, and donuts (from day-to-day life, parties should still be fun!) and using recipes that offer healthy substitutions where possible. For instance, you can substitute whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour, make zucchini noodles in place of spaghetti noodles, or try to replace fruit in your smoothie for lots of healthy proteins and fats. You won’t find out how to live a healthy lifestyle on a budget if you’re always depriving yourself of what you enjoy most, so don’t be too restrictive with your diet. Treat yourself sometimes, consider your portions, and do your best to experiment with healthier alternatives to your favorite recipes to see if you can find comparable flavor at a higher nutritional value. Check out healthy living experts like Sakara Life if you need a little help figuring out which foods you love need a healthy substitution.
Integrate Exercise into Your Routine
As we’re sure you expected, getting a little more exercise should be part of your plan of how to be healthy on a budget, if you’re not already a gym rat, avid runner, or yoga fanatic. Many people dread the thought of “working out”, whether it’s because of gym culture, being self conscious, or their cost estimations of a monthly gym membership. However, working out is by far one of the most common new year health goals. The good news is: working out doesn’t have to break the bank. Depending on your own level of commitment and motivation, exercising can be done without leaving the house, so stop stressing about the gym membership!
Luckily there are plenty of exercise options to help you with your goals of staying healthy on budget. First off, you can try to proactively incorporate fitness into your everyday life. For example, skip the elevator or escalator when you can take the stairs instead. Depending on where you work or live, this can introduce an awesome amount of fitness into your daily life and won’t cost you a penny.
Another cheap way to be healthy is to ride your bike instead of driving, whether you’re heading out for a coffee run or going to work. If you can bike from point A to B easily, then opt to do it! By consciously choosing small ways to integrate exercise into your daily routine, you’ll be an incredibly healthier version of yourself in as little as a few weeks and be that much closer to reaching your new year health goals. If you don’t have a bike yet, then maybe it’s time to start looking for great deals on bicycles from ProBikeKit and Chain Reaction Cycles.
If you need to outsource your motivation—because, let’s face it, sometimes sitting on the couch and watching TV is more enticing than working out—you can opt to join a local fitness group service online or in your local area. You’ll instantly have a group of people who are learning how to be healthy, and they will encourage you and keep you accountable.
If you absolutely must join a gym to ensure you are successful in your new year health goals, then make sure you shop for bargain class passes, take advantage of membership deals, and look into your employee benefits, as they may be able to lower or even cover the cost of your membership. You can also consider using Find Your Trainer to find a personal trainer that can help you get healthy (there’s even a $50 off coupon available right now!).
If you’re dedicated to staying healthy on a budget for the long term and you’re willing to make an investment up front, then buying exercise equipment for you to have at your fingertips everyday may be worth it. You can find discounts on cardio equipment from Dick’s Sporting Goods or Decathlon.
Commit Yourself to Healthy Living on a Budget
Like many things in life, the first step to healthy living on a budget is making the commitment to it! Taking these steps to being healthy will give you a great sense of pride and accomplishment as you achieve your new year health goals. Once you make the commitment to your health, you’ll ensure a lifetime of healthy living and a healthy bank account if you follow our tips.