Keeping your body and mind healthy is one of the surest ways to enjoy life to the fullest. It may or may not surprise you that taking better care of yourself can also mean more dollars in your pocket. Thankfully, we know some frugal tricks to help get on the right path, like choosing inexpensive organics at the grocery store and getting gym-quality workouts at home for free.
Here are five ways investing in your health saves you real money.
1. Less Junk, More Jingle
If you save your pennies to spend in the office vending machine or elsewhere on junky foods, you might want to plunk your loose change into a piggy bank instead. Whether candy, chips, or even cigarettes are your vice, you can cut the habit today and find yourself with a fatter wallet, a slimmer waistline, and healthier insides within very little time. In fact, it can be overwhelming to see how much you were once spending on habits that were ultimately sabotaging your wellness. Even a single bag of candy every workday, say $4, could add up to over $200 a year.
2. Stable Weight, Stable Wardrobe
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had to buy an entirely new wardrobe to accommodate my growing belly. After I gave birth, I found my old clothes didn’t fit the same way and — again — had to sink cash into new clothes. Sometimes our bodies change, like with pregnancy, and we do need to invest. However, if significant shifts in weight can be avoided (like with the vicious yo-yo dieting cycle), there are hundreds to be saved on dressing alone. If you’ve recently lost weight the slow and steady way: Congratulations! Why not try selling some of your old clothes at a local thrift shop or consignment store and put the earnings toward some new items you deserve?
3. Better Foods, Fewer Meds
There’s a misconception that eating whole foods needs to cost a fortune, especially when paralleled with the benefits. Researchers studied a group of people in their late 60s tasked with buying groceries proven to lower risk of chronic diseases (like fruits, vegetables, beans, etc.). The result? By swapping beans in for meat, for example, individuals could see up to a “25% reduced risk in cardiovascular disease [thereby saving] up to $830 per year” on medicines that deliver similar results. You can also easily save a good amount on your food bills by cooking healthy foods in versus going out to eat.
4. Increased Steps, Less Gas
If you live in an area where commuting by foot or bike is possible, take full advantage. You can get in your 10,000 recommended steps for the day — all while watching the gas and other transportation costs pile up in your bank account. To start, try walking or biking to work (or to run other errands) just one or two days a week. You’ll need to plan ahead to ensure you get where you’re going on time, but you’ll also save time, which often comes at a premium, because you’re getting in your exercise as well. (See also: 50 Ways to Walk More)
5. More Movement, Lower Hospital Bills
Exercise is important for far more than just losing weight for the sake of vanity. Another advantage of adding a 30-minute walk to your day? You could significantly lower your risk of “heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and some cancers.” If you suffer from three or more of these conditions, this might mean a savings of up to $1,865 annually on medical bills and associated costs. I don’t know about you, but a $50 pair of sneakers and a little time each day seems like a better bet than all that cash spent on medicines and doctor visits.