Ever since we got married, Hubby and I have made it a point each month to budget. In the past, we mutually agreed that we’d rather spend our extra cash on travel and other fun experiences rather than on Target runs. (No offense, Target. I still love you.) Now with a baby on the way, we’ve been looking for ways to cut expenses a just a little bit further. Babies aren’t exactly cheap, even if you take a more minimalistic approach to baby gear like we’ve chosen to do. (More on this coming soon!)
However, as a PT and general wellness fanatic, I’m not willing to compromise our health in order to stick to a budget. Hubby might be okay with eating ramen 1-2 times per day, but I am most definitely NOT. I believe that making healthy choices now is somewhat like saving for retirement- you benefit later from what you invest now! With that in mind, here are several simple ways we stay healthy on a budget.
10 Simple Ways to Stay Healthy on a Budget
1. Ditch the gym membership.
You don’t need a fancy gym membership to get a great workout! There are literally endless free or nearly free ways to improve your fitness out there. Running only requires a safe trail or sidewalk and a pair of shoes. For a fantastic full-body strength training set-up, look no further than the playground equipment at your local park. If you’re feeling really uninspired, there are tons of free Youtube videos that can guide you through all types of workouts for every different fitness level. Some of my favorites are Fitness Blender and Yoga With Adriene. I’ve also found that since I don’t have to do anything more than put on my running shoes and either turn on the TV or walk outside, I’m more likely to actually squeeze in that workout!
2. Stay on top of your preventative appointments.
Remember that time you ignored the terrible screeching noise your car was making and the $900 bill you had to pay when it finally broke down on the side of the road? Well, your body is pretty similar. So if you haven’t scheduled your yearly preventative health appointments, stop what you’re doing and get it done now. This includes a physical, biannual dental cleanings, yearly eye appointments, OB check-ups if you’re a female, skin checks with your dermatologist, etc. When you’re done, make sure to check with your HR department because many employers will give (sometimes quite sizeable) discounts on health insurance for keeping up with your preventative appointments.
3. Make simple meals.
Meals made with simple, clean, and recognizable ingredients are 1) healthier, 2) cheaper, and 3) easier to make, meaning you’re more likely to actually make them instead of grabbing take-out!
4. Avoid snacking.
Face it, most of the food we eat in between meals is garbage anyways. Skip it, which is better for your waistline and your budget! If you are truly hungry, grab some fruit or veggies or make a mini-meal using leftovers from the fridge (which also cuts down on food waste).
5. Don’t drink your calories.
Just like with snacks, it’s super easy to get carried away and end up consuming 500 calories in sugary lattes, soda or alcohol… which you then have to fork over the cash for when the bill comes. Just skip these and drink water (or unsweetened tea, which is usually fairly cheap most places) instead. For a hilarious (and slightly shocking) take on the topic, check out this article by Mr. Tako Escapes.
6. Limit eating out to special occasions.
It’s amazing how quickly our “restaurant” budget category can get out of control, even if we haven’t eaten anywhere fancier than Chick-fil-a that month. For that reason, we’ve chosen to limit eating out to celebratory occasions. Generally we’ll eat out 1-2x per month to celebrate something like a birthday, job accomplishment or an opportunity to catch up with friends or family. Not only does this help our budget, but we can feel free to indulge in that delicious burger with fries on those rare occasions we do actually eat at a restaurant without it impacting our waistlines!
7. Look for opportunities to DIY.
Finding ways to do things you might otherwise outsource, like car detailing and minor home repairs, is an excellent way to save money. This also gets you up and moving, plus makes you feel pretty darn good about yourself when you finally figure out how to change that oil filter!
8. Streamline your personal hygiene routine.
The less products you use, the less you spend, AND the less chemicals you are rubbing on your body. Win, win, win. For instance, I use diluted castile soap for both body wash and face wash. Jojoba oil also makes a great facial and body moisturizer. Both of these products are cheap and non-toxic multitaskers.
9. Cut your cable and cell phone plans.
In the past, I often found myself mindlessly turning on the TV when I walked in the house each evening or picking up my cell phone to scroll through social media anytime I had a free moment. When Hubby and I decided to cut cable and decrease our cell phone plan, I became much more conscious of how I was spending my free time. Since we had to seek out things we wanted to watch, we no longer defaulted to evenings staring at the TV. When I had to be aware of how much data I was using, I no longer got sucked into the black hole that is Instagram (as much…). Instead, we often go for walks in the evening and actually talk to each other!
10. Just get outside.
Most outdoor hobbies are pretty frugal. Hiking local trails requires only a backpack and some good shoes. You can work on upping your tennis game with only a couple racquets and cans of tennis balls. If you’re really stuck for ideas, grab your significant other or some friends and go play on the swings at your local park. It’s a completely free and fun way to burn a few calories, not to mention trigger some nostalgia!
P.S.- What habits do you have that are both healthy and budget-friendly? Let me know in the comments! Bonus points goes to the most creative! 🙂