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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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                  Published on September 17, 2018

                  How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

                  How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

                  Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

                  With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

                  So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

                  1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

                  It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

                  You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

                  So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

                  2. When you want something big, wait

                  Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

                  It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

                  We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

                  A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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                  So, you get the itch.

                  You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

                  Here’s where you have to take a step back.

                  Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

                  Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

                  It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

                  The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

                  3. Live smaller than you can afford

                  You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

                  You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

                  That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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                  Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

                  Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

                  The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

                  But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

                  4. Practice smart grocery shopping

                  Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

                  But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

                  Create a grocery budget

                  Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

                  Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

                  I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

                  Make a list… and never deviate

                  Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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                  You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

                  These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

                  Eat before going grocery shopping

                  It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

                  If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

                  After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

                  Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

                  However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

                  This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

                  5. Cancel your gym membership

                  Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

                  The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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                  Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

                  I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

                  Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

                  Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

                  For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

                  Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

                  There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

                  It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

                  I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

                  Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

                  The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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