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!).
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.
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.
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!).
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.