I will admit, I’m not always great at living a healthy lifestyle. I try, but I don’t love a lot of vegetables. For me, salads can be extremely boring. There are only so many ways to jazz them up before I’m completely over the whole ordeal. I try to cook at home often, but it takes a time commitment I struggle with sometimes after a long day of work. I have a hate-hate relationship with the gym. I hate to sweat. I hate exerting more energy than necessary. And please don’t get me started on the evil that is running on a treadmill. Yet, I continue to deprive myself of salty, sweet, processed, and high-carb goodness. And I continue to sweat, burn calories, and run. This is all because I want to be healthy — and use my money wisely. Here are four reasons that living a ~healthy life~ is good for your budget and your body:
1. It helps you save on food and medical expenses. I read an article recently that claimed, “That Double Bacon Cheeseburger Could Cost You $8,000 a Year.” I love that specific burger from Five Guys, so I felt very compelled to read on. The article was referring to the annual cost of fighting cancer because the World Health Organization reports that eating processed meats (bacon, sausage, etc.) are carcinogenic. Basically, eating poorly and/or eating foods not made with my own two hands may cost me in the long run, no matter how delicious a double bacon cheeseburger can be. (I miss you already.)
My plan is to try to go for the fresh, organic, least-manipulated food options. (I’ll probably still stop by Chipotle occasionally.) Organic fruits and veggies can cost more, but I’ll offset that cost with eating out less and potentially saving on doctor’s visits. My goal is to start a garden so I know where my food comes from, and that will save me money at the grocery store. The abridged version of this story is that eating healthy home-cooked meals, shying away from processed foods of all kinds (pre-packaged meals, GMOs, bacon, etc.), can save me money, and improve my diet.
2. It will help me save on clothes (I hope). Over the last decade, my weight has fluctuated within a 15-pound range. At the high end, I was eating a lot of comfort food and hadn’t hit the gym in months. I could’ve accepted the weight gain as inevitable, since I’m not getting any younger and I really like food. I could’ve gone out and purchased new clothes to accommodate my larger size. But I didn’t. First, clothes are expensive, especially if you have to replace an entire wardrobe in a new dress size. Plus, doing so would just start a cycle of my weight going up right along with my shopping bills. Every time I gained more weight, I’d have to buy more clothes. I would rather push myself to exercise so I can maintain my current size and fit into the clothes I already own. It’s not so much that I care about trendy clothes, it’s that I want to wear what feels good on me. If the pieces in my closet are getting too tight, then I know it’s time to change my lifestyle. That’s when I head to the gym and the grocery store, and stop ordering takeout. If and when I shop, I like to buy simple, quality pieces that are made to last so I’m not replacing items quickly because they’re threadbare or faded.
3. It helps me avoid guilty and expensive vices. When I’m healthy, I feel better physically and emotionally, so I tend to make better choices. Gaining weight stresses me out. The related health issues can cause even more stress. Some people run to alcohol, cigarettes, or some other vice to cope. My weakness is food. If I’m stressed, I’m likely to binge on cupcakes, potato chips, or gummi bears. However, once I started making lifestyle changes, it was hard to go back to the unhealthy food. It’ll literally turn my stomach to have processed foods after making a healthy change. Not buying unhealthy snacks and treats frees up a lot of extra income.
On the issue of smoking, I asked a smoker how much he smoked and how much a pack of cigarettes costs. I was astonished, and so was he, when we saw how much money he could save if he quit. A one-pack-a-day habit, at $6/pack, comes out to $2,190 a year. If he were to quit, not only would it improve his health, but he’d also save a lot of money in monthly expenses and potential healthcare costs.
4. It will have a positive effect on my energy and happiness. A big obstacle to my happiness and energy level is not getting enough sleep. I’m crankier than the most terrible toddler when I don’t get enough sleep. To compensate, I snack on sweets or drink sugar and espresso-laden beverages from Starbucks. I can easily spend $8-$10 per trip and there’s a Starbucks right up the street from my job, so the trips are plentiful. It is a bad money habit and cutting out of my life (slowly, but surely) will help my budget immensely. When I’m eating right, exercising, and creating better habits, I tend to have more energy during the day and get more rest at night. Which, in turn, saves my coworkers from my reign of terror before lunchtime, and saves my account from constant withdrawals.
Flanice is a DC-based “idea machine,” traveler, blogger, budding coder, and helper of people.
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