Many of us who make New Year’s resolutions create goals centered on health and well-being.
Whether it’s kicking a bad habit, joining a gym, or cooking more healthful meals, January usually comes in with a push to make positive lifestyle changes.
Towards the end of the month, people start to feel burnout- but not necessarily the kind you might expect. A lot of people equate getting healthy with spending a ton of money (on gym memberships/personal trainers, workout equipment, organic food, equipment for preparing said food, etc). The good news is that you can have your cake and eat it, too- or, save your money and get healthy. Here are some of our ideas for you:
Vices Cost Money
Typically what isn’t good for us is actually expensive: alcohol, cigarettes, and other luxuries can add up. If you need some incentive to kick an unhealthy habit, sit down and take a look at your expenses. How much are you spending on your bad habits (and are they worth it?)
In 2011, CNN Money estimated that Americans spent about $80 million dollars on cigarettes (that’s $70/week). Interestingly, unused gym memberships can also be found on this list, but more on that later.
The Daily Meal did some math for coffee lovers, and even three times a week at Starbucks can add up to $25-$40 just in a drink order. And let’s face it- most of us don’t stop for coffee just three times a week.
Dining out, while fun, is becoming more commonplace and is an easy place to derail both a diet and a budget. On lunch alone, the average American spends about $20/week, which adds up to $1000 annually (according to Forbes).
According to Wisebread, saving $5 a day for 40 years could buy you a house- although most of us don’t necessarily have that kind of patience for delayed gratification, you could save up for a new car or vacation by eliminating one of your smaller scale, everyday vices.
Using Your Body As Transportation Is Less Costly
While Chicago boasts a below-average percentage of income spent on transportation, this is one of the easiest places to cut back on expenses. Walking whenever possible not only saves money, but gives you a chance to exercise (two birds with one stone).
If you’re comfortable on a bike, you can also switch your commute to a different set of wheels. The Divvy program is a sharing program that offers 24/7 access to bikes, which members can borrow for 30 minute increments. They have different membership levels which you can check out here: https://www.divvybikes.com/
Gym Membership- Is it Worth it?
Around December, you may think it’s a good time to get back to the gym. We aren’t saying this is a bad idea, but as with any purchasing decision, you should perform a cost-benefit analysis. Be honest and realistic about time commitments. The gym isn’t necessarily for everyone- you might find that you have enough room in your home and self-discipline to do your own workouts. If you have a small space, there are still at-home options for you. In other words, if the gym isn’t for you, you can still save money and get a decent workout in.
Food You Make Yourself Is Healthier
As we mentioned earlier, dining out can add up quickly. It’s also difficult to control portion sizes and hidden added ingredients (i.e. sugar). It may take more time to make your own meals, but if you prepare some ahead of time, it’s often healthier and cost effective in the long run.
For instance, buying frozen fruits and vegetables is an easy way to stock up and save money, and they don’t have any preservatives/chemicals added in. If you use a lot of foods that can be stored on the shelf, like pastas, grains, beans, spices, or even peanut butter, bulk buying is a great way to save money and time.
Better Food Can Mean Less Medication
As Hippocrates famously said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” You may have heard the analogy likening the human body to a car and food to fuel- the higher quality fuel you put in, the better you’ll perform. When you’re eating natural foods that you prepare yourself, you’re making a long-term investment that can mean less prescriptions, less visits to the doctor, and less sick days. This includes avoiding common digestive disorders such as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), which affects about 7 million people in the U.S. alone. A healthy diet ensures that your body obtains enough of the necessary nutrients not only to function well in day-to-day life, but to fight diseases.
Being healthy and saving money CAN go hand in hand, so don’t give up on those resolutions yet!