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8 Ways to Eat Healthy Even If You’re on a Budget

8 Ways to Eat Healthy Even If You’re on a Budget

Trying to eat healthy on a budget can be challenging. A lot of the food and recipes you see on websites occasionally require expensive ingredients, and that can be hassle, especially if you have to feed a family. Here are some tips on how to eat healthy even when you’re on a budget.

1. Learn the art of couponing.

eat healthy

    Coupons can save you a ton of money on food every month. It can be difficult to get started because there are so many sources for coupons. Once you get into the flow, it not only gets easier, but you’ll also be able to save money on food that would usually be out of your price range. Here’s a website to help you get started. Some people have boasted that they save up to 50%–90% on food, and when you’re saving that much, you can splurge on more expensive food.

    2. Buy in bulk.

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    eat healthy

      It may seem like you’re buying more than you need, but buying in bulk can save you tons of money. At my local grocery store, Giant Eagle, I can get several pounds of frozen veggies for $5 and that can last for weeks depending on how many people you need to feed. You can buy ridiculous amounts of beans and rice on the cheap. The more you buy, the cheaper it gets. Yes, those Rice-A-Roni boxes seem like a deal at $1, but you can buy several pounds of rice for a couple of bucks more. Rice-A-Roni is also packed with sodium and regular rice can be spiced to your tastes.

      3. Prepare to cook the meals.

      eat healthy

        Microwave dinners and precooked food seem like a great idea and a time saver. However, those foods are generally bad for you. Cooking the food yourself may take longer but you can control what goes in it and you can choose to make it healthy. Plus, with all the bulk food you’re getting from our last tip, you’ll have plenty of ingredients to cook.

        4. Buy generic food brands.

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        eat healthy

          There comes a point where it’s the same thing in a different box and you’re just paying a premium for the right to say you bought the brand name food. This is especially true for cereal. You can get the same cereal for half off by buying off-brand and they taste pretty much the same. Not all foods are good for you, and that means not all off-brand foods are good for you. However, stuff like low (or no) sugar cereal can be pretty decent.

          5. Stop buying bottled water.

          eat healthy

            Bottled water doesn’t seem like it’s expensive but it adds up. Let’s say you buy only $1 worth of bottled water a day. That’s $350 per year (rounded down). You could easily save that money by using a water pitcher (with a filter) and using a re-usable water bottle. With that extra money, you can go buy more food! Plus, those cheaply made plastic bottles really aren’t good for you.

            6. Obey the psychological rules of grocery shopping.

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            eat healthy

              Grocery shopping isn’t always about the physical things. Sometimes it’s about the mental things. With that in mind, you should attempt to exercise the following tips. You should eat before going to the store because you’re more likely to be pragmatic about your decisions when you’re not hungry. You should shop alone because it cuts down on impulse buys from your kids and your husband/wife. Lastly, you should try to make at least a core list and stick to it.

              7. Stop buying take out all the time.

              eat healthy

                Every time you go eat fast food, order a pizza, order take out, or even drop a dollar in the vending machine, you are undermining your food budget. If you eat out once a week for $10, that’s $520 per year you’re spending on eating out. Don’t get us wrong, it’s good to treat yourself every now and then. However, if you’re reading this then you probably have a tight budget.

                8. Try to grow some of your own food.

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                eat healthy

                  Let’s be honest: planting a garden isn’t going to work miracles on your food budget, but it will help a little bit, especially if you plant the right things. Herbs and spices take very little space to grow and you can grow and dry enough to last you for years. Things like peppers and tomatoes are great to grow in most climates and you can use those in almost any food dish. If the garden is big enough, you can grow enough to save yourself a little bit of money. Plus, the stuff you grow is typically going to be good for you. You’re not growing processed foods high in sodium and trans fats.

                  Most people already don’t spend that much on food so we know the budgets are probably pretty tight. Using these tips, you can make your buck go a little bit further and eat less garbage. Your body and your wallet will thank you for it!

                  Featured photo credit: Static via static.squarespace.com

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                  Last Updated on January 2, 2019

                  How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

                  How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

                  Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

                  Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

                  Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

                  This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

                  Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

                  What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

                  Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

                  When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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                  How It Leads to Financial Improvement

                  It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

                  Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

                  Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

                  It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

                  Types of Personal Finance Software

                  When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

                  Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

                  For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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                  Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

                  When to Use Personal Finance Software

                  So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

                  Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

                  1. You Have Multiple Accounts

                  There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

                  If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

                  Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

                  2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

                  Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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                  There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

                  With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

                  3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

                  Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

                  Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

                  Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

                  4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

                  Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

                  You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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                  How to Get Started

                  From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

                  Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

                  It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

                  When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

                  Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

                  Final Thoughts

                  Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

                  In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

                  Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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