It’s a new year! And if you’re like most people you probably have some health related resolutions this year. Things like going to the gym, running a marathon, eating better, etc.
There’s only one problem: healthy living can burn a hole in your wallet.
Organic food and eco safe products can be pricey.
Health insurance is through the roof.
Yoga classes aren’t cheap.
In fact, cost is one of the biggest reasons people cite when it comes to not eating better or taking care of themselves (after not having enough time, of course).
Fortunately for me, I have no choice but to try and live as healthy as I can. Otherwise my body makes it very obvious and I literally feel like shit. If I feel like shit I can’t function so there’s no point in me forgoing good food or exercise.
(I say this as a good thing because I am literally forced to eat better.)
But I totally understand how money can get in the way of living an affordable healthy lifestyle. I’ve let it get in the way in the past (and lived to regret the decision) because sometimes it really doesn’t seem sustainable.
Another fortunate thing in my life? A ton of my coaching clients work in the health industry. From yoga instructors to consultants for eco-friendly beauty products, they’ve taught me a thing or two about having an affordable healthy lifestyle.
Today I’m going to share tips that they’ve taught me as well as others I’ve figured out on my own.
You can live a healthy lifestyle without going broke and I’m going to show you how.
A Quick Note About Spending Based on Values
If you’ve read Make Money Your Honey then you know I’m a big believer in spending based on what you value. I value health tremendously and therefore don’t mind spending the extra money to let’s say, going organic as much as I can.
Simply put, I see my health as a life long investment. And like I said, if I’m not taking care of myself I literally feel like crap in a matter of days. My hormones get totally out of whack, I lose energy and my stomach hates me. So naturally keeping myself healthy means a lot to me and seems worth it.
Furthermore, the money you spend on health now is nothing in comparison to what you’ll be spending on healthcare later on if you don’t take care of yourself.
This doesn’t mean I don’t budget, I just cut expenses in areas that don’t matter to me as much or don’t make me feel as good. Simple as that. This makes it much easier to have an affordable healthy lifestyle.
Okay, now we can get to the good stuff. I’ve divided today’s content into different health areas from insurance to self-care. Each section has some tips on making it more cost effective as well as some personal insights.
Health and Dental Insurance
Health and dental insurance may not have to do with an affordable healthy lifestyle per say, but it is a health related expense so I’m addressing it.
Health insurance is not cheap. Not even close. It also depends on a lot of factors such as whether or not you’re self-employed, if you are employed how much your company covers, your state of health, your budget, whether or not you’re covered under your spouse’s insurance, how much of a tax credit you qualify for, where you live, whether or not you have kids and your own personal preference of doctors.
The good news is you do have options.
If you’ve already had experience with health insurance then I’d recommend making your choices based off of that. For instance, I was paying for a PPO all of last year and I used it three times. That’s right, three times. Furthermore, I added up what my medical costs would have been out of pocket and it was cheaper than what I ended up paying in premiums that year.
Of course, we can no longer opt out of health insurance without being penalized. So I switched over to an HMO. Can I choose my doctors? No. Can I see a specialist without a referral? No. But I had an HMO growing up and never had any issues. Other family members also have HMOs in our area and have no issues getting referrals. And here’s the real reason I switched: an HMO is much less expensive than a PPO. Since I’m in good health and I take care of myself, this just makes a lot more sense financially.
Of course, everyone’s situation is different so you may have to run some numbers to make the best choice for you.
As for dental insurance, consider a dental discount plan. Since dental insurance is notoriously shitty, some dental discount plans could end up saving you more money in the long run if you need multiple procedures done. They also don’t have any of those bullshit waiting periods and the savings are immediate. Again, just crunch the numbers to see what makes the most sense.
And of course, always continue putting money away into an emergency fund. They come in handy. If you have a high deductible health insurance plan than you’ll also want to consider having a Health Savings Account to help with expenses.
Food is a staple if you want to have to live a healthy lifestyle. Exercise and stress reduction alone aren’t enough. And in fact, many ailments from inflammation to hormones can be tracked to food.
Having issues with your menstrual cycle? Good chance that it’s your food.
IBS? Definitely food.
Skin issues, irritability, energy levels, diseases – all affected by food.
The problem is that eating organic is more expensive. Or is it?
The truth is you can eat wonderful food that supports your body while still having an affordable healthy lifestyle. Mostly, you just have to keep some hacks in mind and do your research.
- Consider signing up for a Crop Sharing Association. I am a member of Endlessly Organic down here in South Florida and every two weeks I get a giant box of fruit and veggies that I go pick up at a location five minutes from my house. This may seem pricey at first glance but it has some major advantages that make it totally worth it:
- Produce is locally grown therefore you’re helping the local economy
- Everything is certified organic
- It takes the guesswork out of grocery shopping so you’ll know exactly how much to budget for each month because it’s a set price. You don’t run the risk of spending more money or going overboard at the grocery store.
- I did the math and it’s not that much more expensive than getting the same produce from the grocery store.
- You get produce in bulk. I’m not even kidding. You get a shit ton of food depending on what size box you opt for.
- Make your own damn juice! For Pete’s sake this is way cheaper (and tastes better) than buying it!
- Use the whole produce. For instance, if I use beets in my morning juice then I sautee the leaves and tender stems later on for dinner. If I juice carrots I’ll use the fibers in salad. If I make a juice sometimes the combination of fruit and veggie pulp makes a killer soup. The point is to find creative ways to eat the produce so you actually use what you paid for. You’d be surprised at just how much food you can get from fruits and veggies.
- Familiarize yourself with the clean fifteen and dirty dozen. The clean fifteen are the produce that you don’t necessarily have to buy organic because their exposure to pesticides isn’t that bad. This can make it easier on the wallet. The Environmental Working Group has a guide to help you out.
- Learn how to meal plan and prep. This has been a major life savor because it takes the guesswork out of cooking and eating.
When you’re trying to create an affordable healthy lifestyle exercise is the area where you can really save some money. The good news is that this is an area of healthy living where you don’t have to spend any money at all! Or, at the very least, you don’t have to pay for a $100 a month gym membership (I’m looking at you Equinox).
Before signing on the dotted line and committing yourself to a year long gym contract you won’t use consider some of these options.
- If you must use a gym for whatever reason try going to local businesses instead of chains. Many tend to not use the whole contract thing so you don’t have to worry about getting stuck paying for something you don’t use.
- YouTube! Oh man there are so many great fitness people on YouTube! Personal favorites include Blogilates (her workouts are killer) and Yoga with Adrienne.
- If you’re like me and you love yoga consider an online yoga subscription. It’s much more cost effective than purchasing classes at your local studio and you can do your yoga whenever and wherever. My go-to for this is YogaGlo. They are the only online yoga subscription I have found that makes me feel like I’m in a studio while I’m practicing at home.
- Check out free classes in your local community.
- Try a free fitness regimen like Couch to 5K. I actually just started this in an attempt to switch up my fitness routine, get outside of the house more and add some cardio to my life. For those of you who don’t know, Couch to 5k is a beginner’s training schedule that helps you prepare to run a marathon by easing you into it week by week. The app is available for iPhone and Android and comes with everything you need including a calendar, the appropriate timers according to what day and week of the schedule you are on, music and more. And it’s 100% free!
Your skin is the largest organ in your body, so you best damn take care of it! Eco-friendly beauty products can get pricey but there are ways around it. My tips are below.
- Use organic apple cider vinegar rinses as hair conditioner. This is a fraction of the cost of even non-organic conditioner and much more effective.
- Buy a tub of coconut oil. You can use it in over 100 different ways.
- Use Vitacost for eco-friendly beauty products, supplements, vitamins, teas, food and just about everything you can think of at 50% off the retail price. Click here to use my referral link and we’ll each get $10.
- You can make your own lips balms and scrubs.
Self Care (Massages, Mani/Pedi’s etc.)
It used to be that self-care was seen as a luxury. Now we realize that self-care is an important component of your overall health. For example, massages are great for the lymphatic system and that exfoliation you get with your pedicure is essential for removing dead skin cells and releasing toxins.
Of course, these things can get a little pricey but with good planning it can fit into your affordable healthy lifestyle. The good news is that unlike food or exercise, you don’t need to do these things all the time so you’ve got plenty of opportunity to save and plan.
For instance, I have a savings account just for these expenses where each week I allot some money automatically from my checking account (even something as little as $5 can go a long way).
I then put the money in that account toward getting a massage every quarter or a mani/pedi every once in a while. (I’ve also gotten lucky and snagged some free massages and discounts at local women’s networking events.)
Want to know a free tool you can use to improve your overall health? Your breath.
Yes, your breath. Turns out most of us go through life without breathing properly. Or we let stress get to us and the first thing to go is our breathing.
By practicing breath work like meditation you can positively affect every area of your body. According to Mayo Clinic, on a physical level meditation can help us avoid and manage a ton of illnesses and medical conditions. It can also help with psychological issues like anxiety and PTSD.
The best part? It’s 100% free and you can do it anywhere.
I’ve been meditating since 2010. Regularly since 2011. I can honestly say this one tool has changed my life in so many ways – both physically and emotionally.
Know anyone struggling with making their healthy lifestyle affordable? Feel free to email this to them.
Do you have any tips for having an affordable healthy lifestyle? Share in the comments below!