"The thing is, it costs more to live and eat healthy." If I only had a quarter for every time I've heard someone say that, I'd stop embarrassing my poor wife by checking the coin return on every payphone we pass. Well, maybe I would.
That statement is near the top of my "Need More Money Myth s List." Sure, it's possible to spend a lot of money to lead a healthy lifestyle, but it's also possible to spend a lot of money to lead a very unhealthy lifestyle. In fact, other than being able to afford the astronomical cost of medical care here in the U.S., you could argue that many Americans would actually be healthier if they spent less, not more.
Here are six ways that you can improve your health by spending less:
1. Eat Lower on the Food Chain: While there are of course exceptions (e.g. seafood), many of the things we should be eating the most of for a healthy diet (see mypyramid.gov) -- including whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables -- happen to cost the least on a per pound basis, particularly if you're a smart shopper. Conversely, it's many of the things that are bad for us (at least in large quantities) -- like red meat, fatty dairy products and processed foods high in saturated and trans fat -- that cost the most. As I've written about extensively, I cook mostly from scratch and try to only buy ingredients that cost under one dollar a pound, as a way of steering me toward healthier choices (and saving money!).
2. Drive Less: It costs about fifty cents per mile to drive the average car down the road by the time you factor in the cost of the car, gas, insurance, repairs/maintenance, etc. Walk or bicycle, and those fifty cent pieces will really start to add up...as will your fitness level.
3. Do More Things Yourself: Stop paying people to do so many things for you, and do them yourself instead; it'll save you money and keep you fit. Sitting (like on your couch) burns only about 160 calories per hour for a 180-pound guy. But here's how many calories per hour that same couch-spud will burn when he: washes the car/610 calories; cuts the grass/648 calories, or cleans the house/324. Heck, keep that up and you can cancel your gym membership and really save.
4. Stay Home and Go to Bed Early: Skip the late nights out on the town and you'll save a ton of money. Getting a good night's sleep is free, and studies have shown that it really will make you healthy, wealthy and wise.
5. Lower Your Stress by Spending Less: Stress can cause conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, as well as contribute to everything from auto accidents, suicide and substance abuse. Americans stress out over money and their jobs more than anything else. Spend less money in order to put more into savings and avoid debt...and avoid the stress that comes with it.
6. Drink a Little (Cheap) Wine Every Day: There's a lot of research that shows that a glass or two of wine a day is good for your heart, and cuts the risks of everything from strokes and Type 2 Diabetes to cataracts and colon cancer. The problem is having the willpower to limit yourself to just one or two glasses. Trust me, the cheap stuff I sip every evening is just unsavory enough that I'm always happy to stop at two!
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