Sure, you’ll feel better and it might get you some enviable photos, but isn’t a healthy lifestyle expensive? It can be if you’re slinging back $10 green juices every day and working out at a state-of-the-art gym. But you don’t have to spend a fortune to be healthy and even a few small lifestyle changes could pay off big time in terms of saving money.
Healthy Change #1: Eat at Home More Often
Yes, you can eat out at the latest organic, vegan, gluten-free, raw, paleo restaurant, and on the surface, it might look like you’re making a healthy choice. But here’s a secret: restaurants want you to like their food. So they add more fat, salt and sugar to your meal than you would otherwise use at home. There’s no way to know exactly how much of these ingredients you’re eating unless the restaurant includes a detailed ingredient label next to each of its menu items (which most are not in the habit of doing).
If you cook healthy meals at home, they’re inherently going to be better for you than a “healthy” meal at a restaurant. The bonus? You’re most likely going to pay less for your meal than you would if you ate out. The reason for this is: when you eat out at a restaurant, you’re not just paying for the food. You’re helping to pay for rent, utilities, staff wages, supplies and that profit for which the restaurant’s owners started their business in the first place. When you cook at home, you’re just paying for the food and marginal amount of utilities.
Healthy Change #2: Exercising
At this point, it’s common knowledge that exercising can lead to weight loss, reduced stress, better sleep and a healthier heart. Which are all good benefits to add into your life. But did you know that people who exercise also save an additional $500 to $2,500 per year?
The savings come in the form of reduced medical bills and prescription costs for chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. On top of that, people who get high-quality sleep and have lower stress, are less likely to get catch a common cold and flu which means fewer work days missed and higher productivity. Exercising also releases endorphins which make you feel good and can ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, which can, in turn, reduce or eliminate the need for medication or therapy. To boost the feel-good effect of exercise, get outside for a dose of vitamin D.
If your schedule is packed and you feel like you don’t have time to institute an involved exercise regimen, don’t worry. You only have to go for a 30-minute walk, five times a week in order to reap the benefits of getting up and moving around.
Healthy Change #3: Quit Smoking
Again, we’re not exactly breaking the news when we tell you that smoking is bad for you. It can lead to heart disease, lung cancer and other smoking-related illnesses. But on top of that, smoking itself is really expensive.
According to the CDC, the average cost for a pack of cigarettes is $6.28. That means if you smoke a pack a day, you’ll spend about $188 per month and almost $2,300 per year. But if you live in a state like New York, you’ll pay as much as $10.56 per pack which equals $317 per month and $3,854 per year.
Now, imagine if you invested that money in the stock market instead of literally lighting it on fire. The average annual market return is 7 percent, so if you apply that to the average annual cost of $2,300, you’d earn $100,000 over 20 years. On top of that, every pack you smoke comes with an additional $35 in health-related costs that include higher premiums for life insurance, more expensive dental hygiene, an increased cost for cleaning your home, car and clothing and a lower resale value on your home because it smells like smoke.
There’s no way around it, making lifestyle changes can be difficult. But just think about it: what would you do with an extra $100,000? What if you could spend your retirement savings traveling or engaging in your favorite hobbies instead of paying for prescriptions and doctor visits? You don’t need to completely overhaul your life. Just a few small changes could be the difference between good and poor physical (and financial) health.
Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered tax, investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate tax, investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.