Chapter 4 - Health
Staying healthy is an important part of frugal living. With allergy season rearing its ugly head, many households are stocking up on tissues, eye drops and medications to find relief. Sure, everyone has sick days every now and again; it's inevitable. But consistently living an unhealthy lifestyle can be detrimental to both your wellbeing and your budget. Getting sick means missing days of work, which means less money in your bank account (and besides, who actually enjoys being sick?). It's much simpler to take preventative measures before you get sick and avoid the financial hassles later on.
Maintaining your health can be as simple as eliminating a few old habits. For instance, the average UK household spends £11.80 a week on tobacco and alcoholic drinks.1 Cutting these items out of the budget adds up to an extra £613.60 per year, on average. Quitting smoking, in particular, would save a 20-a-day smoker about £2,600 a year on cigarettes.2
Clearly, healthy living can save you large amounts of money over time. Even nutritious foods, like dried beans and frozen vegetables, can sometimes be cheaper than the junky processed items. This brings us to the three essential elements of staying healthy: 1) eating right, 2) staying active and 3) getting enough sleep.
Be sure as you prepare meals that you are eating from every food group - fruits and vegetables, starches and grains, meat and beans, milk and dairy, and foods high in fat and/or sugar.3 Nutritious eating depends on a healthy balance of the first four groups, with little to no consumption of foods in the last group. As well, staying hydrated curbs appetite, as thirst is often mistaken for hunger.4 If you're still looking for ways to lower your grocery bill, drinking more water (but not bottled water!) may be another answer.
No worries if you don't have the time to go to the gym twice a week. Life is a gym! According to NHS, "People who do regular activity have a lower risk of many chronic diseases."5 So as long as you incorporate more activity into the daily tasks you already do, your health will reap some benefits. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Swap out your office chair for an exercise ball
- Take the stairs instead of the lift
- Walk or bike to work
- Park at the far end of the lot
- Instead of playing a game inside, play football outside
GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP
Getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night has been shown to improve memory, sharpen attention and lower stress.6 What is more, resting is a key element of a fit lifestyle. If you're still sceptical, try it and see! Every night for a week, make a point to get no less than eight hours' sleep.Then observe the effect it has on your outlook.
REALISTIC DIY PROJECTS
Brits waste £37 million a year on gym memberships they never use! That comes to about £303.19 per person.7 Maybe one reason so many memberships have fallen to the wayside is because of the hassle of leaving home to work out. Fortunately, you can save yourself some cash and work out at home. You only need to invest in the cost of a few dumbbells. Then borrow workout DVDs from the local library and start exercising from home!
(no equipment required!)
- Pull ups
- Push ups
- Rope climb
- Sit ups
- Wall sit
- Arm circles
So you've cut spending again and again, and the idea of taking anything else out of your monthly budget probably makes you sick to your stomach. This month, instead of finding new ways to halt buying, try another tactic for saving money: selling. Or more generally, increasing your income.
Selling personal belongings that you no longer use is an easy way to earn money on the side and pay down your debt. You can do this in a variety of ways:
- 1) listing your items at an online auction like eBay or a live auction,
- 2) posting free ads for your stuff through online classifieds like Craigslist, or
- 3) holding a garage sale when the weather warms up. Maybe you have old exercise equipment lying around that you don't intend to use anymore. Maybe you have dozens of DVDs that you haven't watched in years. Challenge yourself this month to find at least five items you can do without and then sell them.
But if you're already living the ultra-frugal life and only own the bare necessities, another way to increase your income is by picking up extra work here and there. This doesn't necessarily mean getting a full-fledged second job. Actually, it could be as simple as turning a hobby into extra income. Brainstorm five of your favourite hobbies and 10 things you have a talent for. For instance, maybe you enjoy playing piano and you're good at fixing things. You might be able to combine your love for music and your talent for repair work by starting up a side job as a piano tuner. Or maybe you enjoy working out and you're good at encouraging others. After certification, you could become a personal trainer. Not every hobby and skill will fit together seamlessly, but with a little creativity you can definitely come up with a service that will earn your household that much-needed extra cash.
Of course, not all of us have the time for such entrepreneurial work. Fortunately, the Web has hundreds of virtual jobs posted for you to earn extra money while working from home, many of which have just two requirements: that you be a certain age and have an opinion. It could be anything from filling out surveys to writing product reviews. Similarly, you could participate in paid focus groups or become a mystery shopper. If you're really serious about finding extra work, there's an opportunity out there that's perfect for you.
Be sure to take at least one of these challenges this month, and watch your savings grow!