By Leigh Linhoss
No thanks to today's economy, it's a harsh reality: the price of good health is high and continues to rise. Not only are gym memberships an added luxury that most Americans can't afford, but even healthy foods at the grocery store are more costly than ever. But take heart! There are ways to maintain healthy habits, even on a strict budget. Here are four tips to get you started:
- Winter is over, and spring is in sight. Get outside! Go for a walk or a jog. Play soccer in the yard with your kids. Throw a Frisbee with your roommate. Not only are you getting active and, if you're a parent, providing a terrific example for your kids, but these simple activities are free. The average gym membership can cost anywhere from $500-$1,000 per year.
- Plan your meals for the week ahead of time. We've all heard it before, but it rings true. If you walk into the grocery store with a game plan, you'll save yourself time and money. Plus, you'll be less likely to buy those chocolate chip cookies, thus saving yourself extra calories. It's a win-win. Also, emphasize grains and legumes in your diet. Not only are these items low in fat and pack a nutritional punch, but they're easy on your wallet.
- Now that you've got a meal plan, and you're at the store, where do you start? Buying organic can be very costly, so stick to only buying organic if the food is one of the "dirty dozen" (apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce and kale).
- While you're at it, eat seasonally. Or better yet, grow your own. Not only will these veggies taste better, but they're fresher and more inexpensive. Definitely try to stay away from processed foods as much as possible-the convenient packaging adds to the price, plus they are loaded with preservatives and empty calories. Opt for an apple instead.
Yes, staying fit is tough. It's time consuming and can, potentially, take a toll on your checkbook. But there are ways to make healthy living budget friendly with a little creativity. When it comes down to it, the price of an unhealthy lifestyle is much worse, so find small changes that will both enhance your lifestyle and help preserve your pocketbook.
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The contents and opinions contained in this article are for informational purposes only. The information is not intended to be a substitute for professional accounting counsel. Always seek the advice of your accountant or other financial planner with any questions you may have regarding your financial goals.