The Ultimate Guide to Healthy Living on a Budget

Who among us doesn’t want to improve our healthy living? If getting healthy is something you’ve had on your mind, the good news is that you don’t have to break the bank to achieve your goals.

Healthy living can mean everything from keeping your body in optimal shape to ensuring your finances are sustainable. Get started on the path to healthy living on a budget with this handy guide.

What is Healthy Living?

While we all know it is important to live healthy, what it means will differ from person to person. It’s important to assess yourself individually, as your definition of healthy living will depend on your lifestyle and your goals.

At it’s most basic, healthy living means optimizing your life in a way that everything from your body to your home to your finances operates at peak efficiency. Everything about your daily activity and environment can affect your physical health and emotional wellbeing, which in turn can have effects on those around you.

Living healthy doesn’t mean you have to overhaul everything in your life — simple changes to your routines can have big benefits.

Physical Healthy Living

Your physical health should never be sacrificed for your budget — there are numerous ways to access methods of improvement and care that cost little or nothing at all. Staying healthy will have numerous benefits to your overall quality of life, including:

  • More energy
  • Fewer serious health concerns
  • A positive outlook on life
  • Paying less for health services
  • Paying less for life insurance

While these are only a few of the benefits of living healthy, you’ll find it easy to make small — and inexpensive — changes to your daily routines, with big results.

Exercise

Your physical health is crucial, as it will impact both your emotional and financial health. Your own needs will dictate what kind of exercise you are able to do and how much exercise you can handle, but you can increase the impact of workouts by also eating right and accessing preventive healthcare.

When it comes to exercise, it is recommended that adults aim for 150 minutes of activity every week. Breaking this number down, that means only 30 minutes of exercise for five days a week. Keep in mind that your activity doesn’t need to be vigorous to make an impact — if you can walk to and from work, or the store, or to pick up the kids from school, you’ll easily hit your benchmark and reap the benefits.

What this should tell you is that there is no reason to shell out extra cash every month for a gym membership. Walking is free, and things you need to do around the house, like gardening and putting away groceries, can add even more minutes to your daily tally.

If you’d like your exercise regime to be more intense than walks, consider purchasing some basic equipment to get you going. A yoga mat and some free YouTube videos make it easy to spend any downtime at home working on your body. If you’d like to take things even further, you might be able to find used exercise equipment for reduced costs on sites like Craigslist. Also consider checking with local recreation centers and any nearby schools with gyms to see if they offer a membership program or access for people from the community. Typically, this will cost significantly less than paying for a gym membership.

Diet

A large part of healthy living means eating the right stuff — in the right amounts. Unfortunately, there is a common misconception that healthy eating means spending more money, but a recently released report shows that people erroneously perceive more expensive foods to be healthier.

A good example of this is with beverages. The average person drinks between 9 and 13 cups of liquids a day — if the bulk of that is soda and juices, then you are paying for these drinks both with money and with calories. On the other hand, water is free and is the best nourishment for whole-body health. If you stick with the water and cut out the sugary stuff, you’ll see benefits for your body and wallet.

Preventive Healthcare

When your child gets sick, or you injure yourself, you probably go right to the doctor for care. However, accessing regular, preventive healthcare can help stave off large medical bills. Women, in particular, have increased healthcare needs, so by having periodic screenings and tests, you’ll significantly reduce the chance of being surprised by a major illness.

The Affordable Care Act mandates that access to preventive care is free, so make use of the benefits that your plan offers. Depending on where you are, you may be able to access services through a local pharmacy, which will also potentially be at no or low cost.

Emotional Healthy Living

Emotional health is important in our modern era, so always find ways for self-care. This might mean putting yourself first sometimes — especially if you are a busy mother — or finding pleasurable activities that you enjoy to put your mind at ease. The stronger your emotional health is, the better equipped you will be to deal with all of life’s challenges.

Part of improving your emotional health is changing patterns of behavior or thought that get in the way of your fully enjoying life. Luckily, there are several easy changes you can make that have big impacts.

  • Avoid Alcohol: Alcohol tends to exacerbate feelings which can inhibit the steps you are taking towards positive emotional health. If you feel angry, alcohol can amplify that; the same goes with feeling sad. Not to mention, alcohol brings an additional toll to both your body and your budget.
  • Meditate: It may seem simple, but just sitting with yourself for short periods at a time can help you learn to diffuse stressful and anxious situations. Start out small with deep breathing, focusing on your breath as it passes through your body, and then try using this tool whenever you’re in a situation that makes you feel overwhelmed.
  • Ban Negative Thoughts: Sometimes we are our own worst enemies, so it’s important to learn to go easy on yourself. Whenever negative thoughts start to arise, stop and ask yourself why you are having this thought. What are you doing that made it come up? Then take that thought and banish it from your head — try and imagine you are wrapping it in a box and throwing it away, or watch it pass out of your head with a gust of wind.
  • Access Your Support Systems: With family responsibilities, household needs, and job demands, you still need to remember to have fun. Get together with friends regularly, and keep costs down by hosting potlucks or other communal-style gatherings. Surround yourself with positive people who you trust, and you’ll always have a support system available if you need it.
  • Organize Your Time: Organize your day-to-day life in a way that your time is best managed and you are prioritizing the right things. Whether this means getting the laundry done at home or submitting a report at work, you’ll feel more balanced if you make your daily obligations manageable. Plus, you’ll probably find that you are more productive as well.

Financial Healthy Living

Money is one of the primary causes of stress for today’s families. Becoming financially fit will help your physical and emotional health, and with modern technology, is easier than ever.

Food

Food is, unfortunately, a cost that you can’t escape, but that doesn’t mean you can’t control your spending. The US Department of Agriculture offers a comparative chart that allows you to see the average cost of food for people of different ages and households of different sizes. For a family of four, food costs each month could be upwards of $1300. So how to address this necessary evil? Shop smarter and have a plan.

Food costs more when you eat at a restaurant or get delivery than it does when you make it at home. This doesn’t mean you should never eat out, but by reducing the frequency of restaurant visits you’ll also reduce the burden on your wallet.

A great way to save on grocery shopping is by using coupons. If you plan to buy what you can save on, you can help cut out the desire to splurge on unnecessary things. However, other simple tricks for the grocery store include:

  • Select In-Season Produce: Shop around in the produce section for sales, but also keep in mind that foods currently in season are cheaper than those that are out of season.
  • Trim Your Meat: Leaner meats are better for your heart and body health, but they’ll also cost more at the store because someone did the work of cutting off the fat. Get in the habit of buying regular meats and then cutting the fat off at home.
  • Only Buy What You Need: Avoid the temptation to overspend by limiting your shopping to a preapproved list, based on what you need and what you have deals for.

Savings

Building up your savings will always help you feel more financially secure — and it’s also easier than you think. Just by putting aside $10 or less every month you could see savings over $100 every year. Every time you get some extra cash, put that directly in your savings.

Plan For Shopping

Shopping during sales and using coupons will save you money every time you go to a store. Make a calendar of your favorite stores’ sales cycles and sign up for mailing lists and newsletters to get alerts.

Another way to keep your budget healthy when it comes to shopping is to put aside a savings account for birthday gifts, holiday shopping, or any other special need. If you contribute to it all year long then you won’t have to worry about your shopping lists when the time comes.

A healthier lifestyle will provide you and your family with ongoing benefits for years to come. Access coupons, free samples by mail, and even chances to earn some extra cash by signing up for savings and deals today.

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