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10 Ways a Healthy Lifestyle Will Help You Save Money

Filed in Consumer Education , Frugal Living , Saving Money 11 comments

I’ve officially had my fill of advertisers reminding me — and all of you — that we’re all too dumb to lose weight or live a healthy lifestyle on our own.

The ironic part is after the 15 second “identify with me” hard sell spiel is over, we’re misled into believing their product is going to melt away the pounds or solve all of our fitness woes.  Problem is, we’re also supposed to shell out $50 a month for miniature TV dinners or some miracle diet drug that will never get FDA approval because their product uses the “better product through marketing” approach.

I mean, how dumb to advertisers think we are?  Are we really this gullible?

Truth is, it really doesn’t matter what you eat if your goal is to lose weight.  What does matter is how many calories you actually stuff down your pie hole everyday.

So regardless of whether your dietary preference is to eat all carbs, eat low carb, or even decide to go vegetarian, your diet’s success resides only in how many calories you consume versus how much you burn off.   I’m sure that’s not a novel concept to anyone who was skeptical about the Atkins diet or currently wondering why Kirstie Alley is still a blimp.

That said, aside from all the health benefits living an active and healthy lifestyle can bestow upon you, it can also save you a lot of cash.

  1. Save money on insurance.  If you’re 30lbs overweight, smoke two packs of cigarettes, and you’re blood pressure is over 150/90, chances are fairly high a doctor will tell you that you’re at a higher risk patient.  In the insurance business, greater risk means greater chances they will have to pay out on a future claim.  That means, your monthly payments will be higher than average.
  2. Eliminate your bad habits.  You may think your 4 o’clock sugar rush or lunchtime cigarette are necessary evils, but they really aren’t.  If you’re an avid coffee, soda or cigarette user, you may spend $100 or more each month just to satisfy your legal drug habit.  Caffeine, nicotine and even the seemingly benign high fructose corn syrup are detrimental to your health and since they provide little to no nutritional value, they do nothing but act as cash flow leeches that suck money directly out of your wallet.
  3. Home cooked meals trump the 99 cent heart attack meals any day.  When you prepare a meal for you and your family, you can control the amount of salt, fat, and everything else that would otherwise pollute your food.  I love buffalo wings, pizza and pitchers of cheap beer as much as the next guy, but once you pass the age of 25, the morning after effects become more noticeable.  If you want to kill two birds with one stone, make a little extra at dinnertime and take the leftovers to work so you don’t have to spend additional money for your lunch.
  4. Bike/walk to work as much as possible.  During the first quarter of 2009, more self powered bikes were sold in the U.S. than cars and trucks.  Far be it from me to consider this a microtrend in the making, but it is positive news if you’re green living advocate, you hate the Big Three Automakers, or you’re a concerned taxpayer irritated about how many people will need diabetes drugs once their Medicare kicks in.  If you live in a city, going carless (see testimonial) can really boost your monthly cash flow since you have no monthly payments, no car insurance or don’t pay for gas.
  5. Do the manual labor jobs yourself.  Many people who live in the western world live a sedentary lifestyle, so it makes sense to do the easier manual labor jobs yourself in order to get some exercise, but also to save yourself a few bucks.  Mow your lawn yourself instead of paying someone to do it for you.  Shovel the snow out of your driveway.  Plant your own shrubbery instead of contracting it out to a gardener.
  6. Your wardrobe will always fit.  If you stay the same weight throughout your life, you never have to worry about buying a new wardrobe because your pants no longer fit.  I’ve got a few pairs of beaten up Levi’s blue jeans that are 10 to 15 years old, and if I suddenly woke up tomorrow 20lbs overweight, I would lose weight for no other reason than just to wear them ASAP.  They’re that comfortable (or so I’ve deluded myself to believe).
  7. A home gym trumps a gym membership any day.  Most gyms memberships are fairly expensive, you have to wait in line to use the equipment, and gyms these days seem to double equally well as a meat market.  Gyms serve a useful purpose if you’re willing to invest 90 minutes or more to workout, but buying a secondhand treadmill or a Bowflex from Craigslist is far more efficient in my humble opinion.  By the time it takes to drive to the gym, I’m already done with my 20 to 30 minute daily workout.
  8. Fewer illnesses equals fewer prescription drugs you take each day.  We all know at least one person who has to take 3 or more pills a day because of a combination of illnesses.  If you live a relatively healthy lifestyle and maintain an average body weight, your chances of heart disease, hypertension, or diabetes are greatly reduced which means more of your income stays in your wallet than that of Big Pharma.
  9. Growing your own food is far cheaper than paying for it.  Instead of paying $2 for lettuce or $5 for fresh herbs, growing your own vegetables will likely cost pennies on the dollar.  It just takes a few seeds, a little bit of water, and a few minutes of your time each week.  You also get the added benefit of pesticide free veggies.
  10. Regular exercise is a natural stress reducer.  Few things can counteract a stressful day of work like an hour of mindless exercise.  Whether it be a pickup basketball game at your neighborhood outdoor court or a low impact walk through the park, your brain will release a series of neurotransmitters than act as natural pain relievers, depression fighters, and even stress reducers.  Not that a few beers at happy hour can’t do the same thing, but most people will agree than consuming a few beers after work isn’t as healthy (or cheap) as taking a walk around the block.

Got any other ways that you live healthy on the cheap?  Please share them below.

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Posted by CJ   @   6 June 2009 11 comments
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Jun 7, 2009
11:18 pm
#1 Matt Jabs :

Eat a lot of BEANS!! See how my wife & I reduce our grocery bill by eating more beans.

Great list Matt, thanks man!

Jun 7, 2009
11:30 pm
#2 Rebecca :

Bravo! I am constantly seeing correlations between being healthier and keeping cash in my pocket. Great list!

You kinda touched on it in a couple of items, but I believe doing active things with friends – like hitting some balls on the tennis court or walking around the neighborhood – as opposed to going to the bar, a cafe, or even to the movies, is one great way to have some company while you get exercise on, save money, and avoid extra calories, all in one go.

I try to encourage my friends to accompany me to yoga and pilates, too. We always feel so great afterward, and it’s a lot cheaper than a trip to the wine bar.

Jun 8, 2009
7:43 am

Good stuff!
One important thing you didn’t include, and maybe it’s because so many people just refuse to do it… but turning off the TV has so many benefits they can’t possibly all be listed here!
In short though, it’s the second largest sucker of electricity in your household (behind the A/C). It’s also the only time in my life that I ever feel “snacky.”
Not to mention missing out on all those savory food commercials that make you do a refrigerator run =)

Jun 8, 2009
10:10 am
#4 Matt :

@ MattJabs,

Beans work! Solid source of protein and fiber for a fraction of what meat will cost.

Just sit downwind of me would ya! ;-)

Jun 8, 2009
10:26 am
#5 Matt :

@ Rebecca,

Thanks, glad you liked it. There are several beneficial correlations between a frugal lifestyle: being a smart consumer, green(er) living, living a healthy lifestyle, etc.

I see your point where I only didn’t emphasize group exercise versus group happy hour as much. At the time, I thought it more important to emphasize the natural stress relief over the social benefits of exercising with your friends/coworkers, but I think you way might have been a better way to go.

Maybe a good post for the future considering the wide success of after kickball these days.

Thx for commenting.

Jun 8, 2009
10:47 am
#6 Matt :

@ Matt Dibble,

Yeah nothing worse than seeing a Doritos commercial during a football game. Fortunately for me, olestra chips were invented and the idea of the nasty after effects keep me from eating to many of them in one sitting.

I definitely think you have to turn off the TV if you want to live healthier. The Nintendo Wii could be a small argument against our idea, but I doubt very few people would have the same benefits as actually playing the real life version of the same game.

I’m also a huge opponent of vampire power/phantom power, and keep most of my electric devices on a power strip. I keep them out in the open so they’re always an eye sore so I remember to hit the off switch when not in use. Good stuff there.

Thanks for commenting.

Jun 8, 2009
10:55 am
#7 Matt Jabs :

@Matt_SF – too many Matt’s da house! ;-)

That’s what my wife says!!

Jun 8, 2009
10:59 pm

I’m a vegetarian. Unfortunately, that doesn’t automatically correlate with weight loss, as I’ve found out the hard way. But Matt is right about beans! Also, growing your own tomatoes is very easy… they grow so well. So if you don’t want to go all out on your own garden yet, start small and try it with tomatoes…. you’ll be surprised!

Jun 9, 2009
1:37 am
#9 Matt :

@ MoneyEnergy,

I love homegrown tomatoes. I’ve got 3 beefsteak tomato vines and a dozen cherry tomato plants growing on the deck. The cherry tomato plants grow year around, so it’s great for salads and such. I did a post back in March about the easy herbs and veggies I grow every year if you’re interested.

I went vegan for about a month a few years ago… just to see if I could. Filled up on too much bread while I was eating salads. Wasn’t trying to lose weight, but like you said, I think I dropped 3lbs. Hardly significant.

Feb 11, 2010
9:38 pm
#10 Greg :

I really enjoyed this reading. I agree with what you have said, especially growing your own food. I have found it to be so true. besides working in my garden also gives me exercise. thanks for posting this wonderful list. I would like to re-post it at, with full credit to you. Look forward to hearing from you and more posts.

Feb 11, 2010
9:54 pm
#11 Matt SF :

Thanks Greg. I’d appreciate if you would not re-post the article in full, but perhaps write up something of your own and cherry pick the quotes that you find most useful. Supposedly, the search engines get a little upset if they see duplicate content, which reduces your SEO ranking, so I’d like to avoid poking the bear as much as possible.

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