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10 Healthy Habits That Will Save You Money

10 Healthy Habits That Will Save You Money

These healthy habits will help you look and feel good on a budget. If you’d like to boost your bank account while getting fit and healthy, try out these easy-to-implement health tips.

1. Establish a six-pack limit.

Confession: I love alcohol. Whether it’s a white russian, red wine, dark beer (Guinness especially) or straight-up liquor, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an alcoholic beverage I can’t say “cheers!” to. Of course, drinking too much is no good for your wallet or your waistline. For evidence, look no further than that guy you knew in high school who used to be a ripped monster (but now has an uber-big beer belly). That is the consequence of drinking way too much. To maintain a healthy weight and save money, limit yourself to 6 drinks per week. That could be one serving of alcohol per day, or, if getting drunk is your style, you’re welcome to save it for the weekend. Have fun (but don’t get carried away!).

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2. If you’re gonna eat out, split a dish.

Restaurant prices and portions are out of control these days. If you’re going out on a date, don’t be afraid to ask your waiter or waitress if you can split a dish. They are 99.9% likely to say “yes,” and you’ll spare some dough (not to mention that upset stomach you usually have after eating out).

3. Brew delicious coffee at home.

I love Starbucks as much as the next person, but a lot of folks get too carried away. You do realize that if you spend $3 per day on over-priced (and sugar-laden) coffee drinks, you’re out $90 per month, right? Even if you cut that in two, it is just too much. Think about what you could do with all of that money: the vacations you could take, the beaches you could visit, the things you could do! Convinced? Right then: I know some of you probably go to Starbucks because you don’t like real coffee. You like the sugar-bomb drinks masquerading as coffee (and at a mark-up!). For a healthier (and more budget-friendly) coffee, brew it at home. Add a dash of cinnamon and a splash of milk, then stir and enjoy (you’ll thank me later). For more ways to make your coffee super healthy, click here.

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4. Shop for meals (not just stuff).

Have you ever made the mistake of going to the store while you were so hungry that you could eat your hand? I have. Let’s just say the contents of my shopping card were a bit, shall we say, excessive? Hungry or not, going to the store without a plan is a sure-fire way to waste money. Instead of making a general shopping list, make a weekly cooking list. Write down everything you plan to eat for the next 7 days and list every ingredient you will need below your meals. If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t go in your shopping cart. Click here for a big list of over 100 quick and easy healthy recipe ideas that will make you say “nom, nom!”

5. Start a food diary.

Did you know a pen and paper can help you save money and get healthy? True story. Do this: write down every meal you eat for the next week. Also include any details like what time you ate, how you felt after eating (did your meal make you feel happy and fulfilled or sad and lethargic?), and a rating of how much you enjoyed your meal from 1-10. I would be willing to wager you’ll discover that natural, healthy foods like fruits and veggies make you feel a whole lot better than processed junk. This isn’t news: you know it — I know it — we all know it. But keeping a diary and being aware of the effect food has on your mood, energy, and body makes it a whole lot more personal (so you’re going to be more likely to make better decisions in the future!). While you’re at it, you should also start a training diary: click here to find out why.

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6. Keep your closet tidy and organized.

Get a really big bag and keep it in the bottom of your closet (an over-sized department store bag or trash-bag would work). As clothes become old and neglected, they go in the bag. If you can’t remember the last time you wore it, it goes in the bag. Every time your bag fills up, take your clothes to a local thrift store to make some dough (cha-ching!) and give the rest away to a charity (or friend) of your choice. Eliminating clutter will help you reduce stress (and who can argue with some extra spending money?).

7. Squeeze exercise into your busy schedule.

If you’re a member of club broke (or even if you’re not), it’s totally okay to work out at home. Exercise is the best medicine you’re not taking (and it’s a whole lot cheaper than that over-the-counter stuff!). It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. You could wake up 30 minutes early and start your day with a dog walk or neighborhood run. You could park super far away or take the stairs to get some extra walking in. You could invest in a chin-up bar (or just grab onto a tree branch) and build a strong back that’s less prone to injury. Can’t do push-ups? Do incline push-ups on a wall, counter, or sturdy table. Any exercise is better than no exercise, so get moving (no matter how long you have!).

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8. Brown bag your lunch.

This tip is obvious, but it’s obvious because it works. If you’ve never tried preparing and packing your own lunch, just try it for a week or two. Compare the expense of eating out to the cost of cooking in and I have no doubt you’ll be pleasantly surprised. If you’re short on time, prepare 3-7 days of food at a time and refrigerate or freeze it as applicable (and then you can just “zap” it at meal time).

9. Feel the wind in your face.

Since gas is one of the most expensive things ever, why not turn a negative for your bank account into a positive for your body and environment? If you live close enough, bike to work. You’ll save tons of cash on gas, lose weight, and release endorphins (your body’s feel-good chemicals that make you feel on top of the world). If biking to work is out of the question, try to squeeze a quick walk into your morning and/or lunch hour.

10. Stick with it.

The best fitness plan is worthless if you can’t stick with it for more than a few weeks or months. I know changing your negative habits isn’t easy, but you just gotta do it. If you have a lot of bad habits and aren’t sure how to start, check out my guide to breaking bad habits once and for all.

I hope putting these healthy habits in practice helps you feel happy, look good, and save money. If you have any other cost-saving health tips, please post them below. Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask.

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Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

2. Keep Them Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

4. Short Term vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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5. To Each to His Own

The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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6. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

7. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

8. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

It is here where that classification will help.

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So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding,

Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

11. Measure, Measure, Measure

All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

The Bottom Line

This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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