Let’s try a little experiment. Think of the term ‘health’ for a moment and put down on paper what the first three things you associate with it are. If the first things that come to mind are gym memberships, organic produce, and an array of vitamins, you’d be forgiven for thinking a healthy lifestyle is reserved for the well-off. Although it has long been proven that organic foods do not necessarily have to cost more than conventional ones, searching for the right places to buy them alone can cost you a lot of valuable time and energy. And yet, the old clichés about health being nothing but a luxury item no longer hold true – you may be surprised to learn that living a healthy lifestyle can actually save you money.

1. Eliminate your expensive vices

The obvious culprit when it comes to expensive vices is smoking. Let’s have a look at how quitting can concretely benefit your wallet: If you kick your 10-a-day smoking habit you could see yourself £1,400 better off within a mere year. Best of all, your family and friends will thank you for taking their well-being into consideration as well.

But don’t stop there. Fizzy drinks like Coca-Cola or Sprite are not only disastrous for your waistline, but could also be setting you back over £146 a year if you’ve made it a daily habit. Add in the possibility of developing diabetes, which has been linked to fizzy drink consumption, and you could be saving yourself from a future of costly treatments. Needless to say, your quality of life will significantly surge, too.

2. Cut down on transport costs

Car maintenance, petrol, parking, and public transport fees are all daily expenses that can be drastically cut with a changes in your lifestyle. Switching your twice-daily bus journey to work for a brisk walk or bike ride, could save you up to £528 a year. Walking your children to school instead of packing them in the car will save you money, improve your health, and give you more quality time with your family. In many respects, this is really a question of common sense: I was once staying with friends who would take their children to school by car each morning – although school was as close as a five-minute foot-walk. Needless to say, none of them gained particularly high grades in the sports department.

3. Reduce medical costs

Many see the latest health hype as a question of aesthetics only. It is indeed true that the general ideal of beauty tends to favor a slim and fit body. And yet, losing a few pounds and incorporating exercise into your lifestyle is far more than just about looking good – it could help your sleep improve, reduce the regularity of headaches and boost your immune system. This will, in turn, save you the money you may normally spend on over the counter medicines. Losing excess weight will also reduce blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and stress on joints so you may find your prescription costs taking a cut too. And if the results of this ‘rational’ approach should also increase your appeal to the other sex, then you can simply consider it an ‘added benefit’.

4. Reduce monthly food bills

Switching pre-packaged, processed foods for homemade meals can have a huge impact on your monthly food spending. For the price of a pre-packaged soup that would last you two days, you can buy the ingredients to make a portion of soup that would last you five. Not mention the savings you’d gain from giving up or cutting down on expensive takeout. A takeout meal can cost anywhere from two to five times the amount a meal made at home would, and packs on at least double the amount of calories.

What’s more, switching to fresh, homemade meals can also significantly improve your body’s processing of the food. It has been scientifically demonstrated that your body prepares for the intake of foods during the cooking phase and can thus digest them a lot better. You’ll find yourself feeling fitter and more satisfied after meals – once again, considerably improving your general quality of life.

5. Cut down on expensive activities

Instead of spending $40 taking your family to the cinema (not to mention the cost of snacks) take your family to the park and invest in a football. Outdoor activity will boost your mood, improve your health, and best of all, it’s free.

As you can see, living a healthy lifestyle does more than reduce your waistline and you will discover countless other ways that your finances can improve by taking stock and cutting back on unhealthy habits. Best of all, changing your general well-being will also change your entire perspective on life. Try conducting the same experiment mentioned in the first paragraph half a year after you’ve improved your health – my bet is you’ll be thinking of far more affordable things than gym memberships, organic produce, and an array of vitamins.

This article was written in association with financial service provider eccount money, a UK company specialising in basic bank accounts and online banking services.

Currently reporting directly from the City, William Masters is a journalist specialising in economics and personal finances. In his writing, Masters deals with prepaid card technology, the development of the banking market in the early 21st century as well the effects of online technologies on the finance industry.

Featured photo credit:  Group of happy children lying on green grass via Shutterstock

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