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When it comes to healthy living, many people think you need a lot of money to do it right. The reality is that there are plenty of ways to live a healthy lifestyle without breaking the bank. In this blog post, I will share with you nineteen tips for living a healthy lifestyle on a budget so that you can start making changes in your life today!
There are two broad categories that we will go through. Most likely, you have heard of these a million times before. To live a healthy lifestyle, you must:
- Eat Healthier
So what's stopping many of us from acting upon the simple advice above? In some cases, it's motivation. In many more, it's because traditional advice for a healthy lifestyle ignores mental and financial health. If you stress about money, you won't get healthy.
We spent years paying down debt and growing our net worth. A few years in, we realized we were neglecting our physical and mental health. We had put on quite a few pounds and were stressed out. So we decided to get serious about living a healthier, more balanced lifestyle on a budget.
Over time, we learned how to live a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle while growing our net worth and being careful with our spending. We did some of the things that included budgeting, working out at home, switching to non-toxic cookware, transitioning to plastic-free containers, growing our vegetables, pursuing side hustles that we were passionate about, meditating, and much more. Quite a long and varied list, right? To live a truly healthy lifestyle, you need to build a well-rounded physical, mental, and financial approach.
We learned a few things about living a healthy lifestyle on a budget.
1. Set Goals for Your Healthy Lifestyle
What does a ‘healthy lifestyle' mean to you? Everyone has a personal definition of it. For us, it was to:
- Get physically fit enough to climb a few floors or jog at a reasonable pace without feeling like our hearts were going to explode. Losing a few inches was a bonus.
- Get mentally relaxed to turn off our brains and slow down the grey hairs.
- Not burden ourselves financially in achieving the above two goals.
Reflect and set your own goals. You may want to run a half marathon or be able to do advanced-level yoga poses. It may be as simple as meditating and drowning out the noise for 15 minutes. Whatever it is, write down specific, measurable, and attainable goals.
Once you know what you are working towards, add some timelines around it to keep yourself committed and motivated. Make sure that the timelines are realistic and achievable. In the end, you may end up with a goal like this:
- I want to lose 20 lbs in the next six months
- I want to meditate for 3 hours every week for the next three months
- I want to stick to a budget of $400 per month for food and exercise
2. Prioritize Nutrition on a Budget
The first step to improving your health is to eat healthy food. The easiest way to do that on a budget is to cook at home with quality ingredients and only eat out for special occasions. If the cost of organic produce is giving you anxiety, then read below to ease your mind.
2.1. Grow Your Vegetables
It may sound challenging to grow your vegetables. Not everyone has a green thumb, after all. Don't worry about it. It is surprisingly easy to grow microgreens at home with inexpensive, pre-made microgreen kits. We started small by growing our microgreens for salads and garnishes.
Once you are comfortable with growing and cooking with microgreens, consider moving up to growing your vegetables and fruits with easy-to-set-up indoor or outdoor garden kits. In the long run, you will save a lot of money and get the health benefits of eating organic produce without any pesticides or chemicals.
It took a few tries to get it right, but now we can grow vegetables like tomatoes, herbs, chilies, alfalfa, and basil right in our home garden. As a bonus, countertop gardens look great and are an instant conversation starter.
2.2. Make Healthier Choices at the Grocery Store
You can't grow everything, so focus on making smarter choices at the grocery store for the rest. Even if gardening isn't your thing, concentrate on making healthier choices.
If your goal is to lose weight, keep a food diary of what you're eating daily. It will provide feedback on whether what you are doing is working so far or if there need to be some changes.
As a general rule, stay away from packaged and canned food. Start by buying fresh vegetables and fruits instead of frozen or canned ones; these tend to contain more nutrients. Skip the frozen aisle altogether. Next, buy whole grains instead of refined ones. Try to limit your intake of processed foods like pasta, bread, and cookies because they are high in sugar or carbs, making you feel tired after eating them.
Most importantly, get rid of junk food! That includes all sugary snacks like candy bars. If it is full of dairy products or artificial ingredients, it is probably best to avoid them. Junk food tends to be high in sugar, giving you a quick burst of energy followed by an intense crash that can make you feel tired and lethargic afterward.
If you are worried about the cost of fresh food, don't. In our experience, when we started eating fresh whole foods, our grocery bill got cut in half. It was not because we found cheap groceries; it was about what we no longer bought. Think about how much more packaged food costs for convenience. When you start cooking from scratch, you will not pay extra for packaged salads, cereal boxes, instant noodles, frozen vegetables, soda, microwave dinners, junk food, etc.
2.3. Remember to Stay Hydrated
Drinking water can do more than keep you hydrated; it can also help speed up your metabolism and help fight cravings. Try to drink at least two liters of water per day (more if the weather is hot) along with some healthy beverages like green tea, which has antioxidants that can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, in addition to boosting your immune system.
2.4. Indulge in Some Dark Chocolate
Everyone loves a good dose of sweet, but that can be difficult on your new healthy lifestyle. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, proven to improve cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure while also low in sugar. Remember not to overdo it because it is still a form of sugar, even though it's healthy for you.
3. Eliminate Toxins, From Your Diet and Life
3.1. Cut Out The Alcohol
Don't worry. You don't have to stop socializing or stop drinking altogether if you don't want to. The goal is to be conscious about the amount of alcohol you are drinking. Alcohol has no nutritional value; it is simply empty calories and could significantly contribute to extra belly weight. Also, overconsumption of alcohol results in a host of illnesses in both men and women. Whether you are a big drinker or a social one, try to limit yourself to 1 or 2 drinks a week. Opt for low-calorie white alcohol like vodka and cut out the sugary mixers. You can use water or soda instead.
Alcohol is also one of the most expensive items at bars and restaurants. If you are not careful, spending a couple of hundred dollars on weekend outings with friends is very easy. When aiming for a balanced, financially and physically healthy lifestyle, limit your alcohol consumption. Your wallet and your stomach, liver, and heart will thank you.
3.2. Stop Smoking, Seriously!
If you are a smoker, quitting can be challenging. However, it is one of the best healthy lifestyle habits that you could adopt. Smoking damages your cardiovascular health and weakens your lungs by damaging their cells and compromising how they work to distribute oxygen throughout your body. In addition to lung cancer, smoking also increases your risk for mouth cancer, urinary tract infections in women, reduced fertility rates in men and women, along with increasing your chances of heart disease and stroke.
Smoking is an expensive habit. Just add up all the money you spend on cigarettes in a week. If you smoke an average-priced pack a day, you could be saving upwards of $2000 a year. That can get you top-of-the-line home gym equipment! If you invest that money toward your new healthy lifestyle instead, it will pay dividends rather than racking up healthcare costs for you.
3.3. Eliminate Hidden Sugar
Do you know that there's sugar in practically everything pre-packaged? Even healthy-looking foods like cereal bars, protein bars, and yogurt containers often contain an overwhelming amount of sugar (even if it's low in calories or fat-free). Remember that eliminating processed sugar can drastically reduce the chances of suffering long-term impacts on your health, including diabetes, obesity, and heart problems.
3.4. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
While artificial sweeteners may seem like a healthy option, your body can confuse them with sugar. When this happens, your metabolism believes that you are ingesting excess calories and causes insulin to spike. That causes an increase in fat storage and prevents healthy weight loss. If you start using artificial sweeteners at some point, use moderation and measure how these foods affect you.
3.5. Eliminate Plastic
Plastic contains harmful chemicals that severely impact our health in the long run. The chemicals in plastic may cause fertility issues, early puberty, and obesity. The best healthy lifestyle habits entail being mindful about what we encounter and ingest. Switch your food storage containers to glass and stop buying plastic water bottles. If you're buying food that comes in pre-packaged plastic, throw out the plastic as soon as you get home. The goal is to eliminate plastic from your life whenever possible (and practical).
4. Understand the Importance of Physical Health
4.1. Start Exercising
When most people think about living a healthy lifestyle, they focus on diet, but exercise is just as important. Start by taking a walk or doing some yoga to improve your mood and give you energy for the rest of the day. If that isn't something you enjoy, try out other exercises like biking, swimming, or playing tennis with friends.
Gym memberships are expensive and not safe, with COVID-19 still raging on. Instead, stay healthy by investing in some quality home gym equipment.
Last year, we quit our seldom-used gym memberships and purchased some essential equipment to build a simple home gym in a small corner of our home. We own a pair of Bowflex adjustable dumbbells, a bench, and a treadmill desk to get our steps in while we work. Combined with some YouTube workout videos, we sweat it out in the privacy of our home at least three times a week. That is enough to get you closer to your fitness goals.
4.2. Sleep is Underrated
Getting an adequate amount of sleep each night might seem like a luxury instead of something you need to do to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but ignoring a healthy sleep schedule can have severe long-term effects.
Being tired and irritable is just a tiny part of it. Poor sleep quality links to several chronic diseases and conditions – from weight gain and obesity to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even Alzheimer's.
So prioritize your shut-eye. Invest in a quality mattress and pillow, shut out the noise, and turn off the television. Your body rejuvenates and repairs when you sleep. Try to get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
5. Mental Health is Paramount to a Healthy Lifestyle
It's time to look inwards and prioritize your mental health. You can have the perfect body, a great career, and lots of money, but neglecting mental health will keep you from achieving the balanced healthy lifestyle you need.
Here are some tips to achieve this.
5.1. Surround Yourself With Healthy People
This tip requires some reflection about yourself and the people in your life. If you want to live a healthier lifestyle and are trying to make changes, it's vital that the people in your life support and encourage you.
If you have friends or family similarly motivated to live a healthier lifestyle, the journey will be more fun and easier to accomplish. On the other hand, you may have to spend less time with people you find detrimental to your healthy habits.
5.2. Think Positive Thoughts
When you practice positive thinking, your thoughts don't spiral out of control and cause constant worry about what might happen in the future. This healthy lifestyle habit causes better sleep, higher self-esteem, and a more relaxed mindset to deal with anything that does come up. If you find yourself worrying a lot, take a deep breath and make it a habit to be more optimistic.
5.3. Follow Your Passions or Hobbies
Don't let productivity take over your life! If you have hobbies or a passion, follow them for a healthier mindset and an overall sense of happiness.
If you enjoy reading or cooking, it is alright to read or cook for pleasure. You do not always have to be productive or be thinking about work. Take some time daily for activities that bring you joy.
5.4. Don't Be Shy to Ask for Help
If you're going through a tough time in your life, don't shy away from asking for emotional support. Whether it is family members, friends, or professionals, you can improve healthy lifestyle habits with the help of others. We all need emotional support at one point or another in our lives, and there is no shame in asking for help.
If you're struggling with depression or anxiety, don't hide it. Seek out professional help to find your emotional strength and balance.
6.1. Take the Time to Understand Your Finances
Time for a bit of honesty – when was the last time you sat down and planned your finances?
Healthy financial habits help build the proper foundation for the rest of your healthy lifestyle habits. From saving money and building credit to planning for retirement or college, each healthy financial habit is a stepping stone that helps you improve as a person.
The first step to building any good financial habit is understanding your current finances. What are your sources of income? What's the gross and net amount of money you make every month? What are your fixed and variable expenses?
6.2. Build a Budget
Budgeting is essential to getting your finances under control and building healthy financial habits. Proper monthly budgets help you predict your income, control expenses and make critical life decisions like saving for retirement or paying off student loan debt. Build a healthy budget around three simple principles:
A) Spend less than you earn, B) Plan for the future, C)
Be conscious of your spending habits. As mentioned above, exercising or eating healthy does not have to be expensive. Build your budget to suit your goals and stick to it.
7. Start Now, and Continue Building New Healthy Habits
There's a healthy way to do pretty much everything, so why not start practicing healthy habits that can make you proud. Start small by adding healthy lifestyle habits one at a time and be consistent. It might take some time, but healthy lifestyle changes can change your life for the better.
Remember, you don't have to do it all at once! Making small lifestyle changes over time is better than not doing anything; try taking baby steps by eating more vegetables, meditating for 15 minutes, or drinking water instead of soda.
Finally, don't forget to reward yourself! After following these tips for a week or two, go out with friends and celebrate by treating yourself to something nice like going out to the movies. Your new lifestyle will improve your physical, mental, and financial health, so enjoy the journey and keep at it!
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Ash & Pri are the Founders of AshandPri.com where they empower others to make smart money decisions across all aspects of life. They achieved financial freedom in their 30’s and have traveled to over 30 countries, thanks to a disciplined approach to money management. Both hold an MBA degree and have 13+ years of experience in financial services, consulting, and telecommunications.