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Health and wellness on a budget? It IS possible!

Woman stretching on yoga mat

You know regular exercise and smarter eating will make you look better, feel better, and get you in shape for your high school reunion (ok, not the best reason but, hey, if it inspires you, go for it!). But has the cost of health club memberships, workout apparel and organic produce got you thinking you have to choose between paying the mortgage and improving your heart health? Guess what? It doesn’t, thanks to these five easy tips.

1. Set up a “get healthy” fund. Open a savings account just for health-related items and set up automatic deductions from your paycheck to fund it. When family or friends ask for gift suggestions, request a contribution. It’s a great way to afford a special class or save up for a piece of exercise equipment. And you can use it for the entire family.

2. Comparison shop for organics. Have you noticed how many places you can now buy organic food? The price difference between organic and “regular” food can be lower than you might think (check out these seven ways to save on organic food from Consumer Reports).

3. Skip the gym. Are you more likely to exercise if you’ve paid big bucks to join a gym or take a class? Then save your pennies and do that. But if saving money is an even bigger motivator, there are many, many ways to exercise for free or on the cheap. YouTube is chock full of exercise videos—check out Shape magazine’s 10 favorites. Local rec departments often have very affordable exercise classes and gym access. And what’s better than getting outside to run, walk, bike or swim, especially in good weather? Plus, outdoor exercise can be better for you—physically and mentally.  Looking for home exercise equipment? Hit local buy/sell/trade groups for deals.

4. Sneak exercise into your day. Taking your kids to the park? Don’t plop yourself on a bench with your phone—climb the monkey bars, hop on the swings, chase your kids. You’ll all have more fun and you’ll feel better too. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work, park your car farther away from your destination (or, better yet, walk or ride your bike wherever you’re going). Have walking meetings with co-workers, meet friends for a run instead of a drink, do squats during the commercial break. The options are pretty much endless.

5. Healthy up your meals—and cook them yourself. There are days when takeout or pizza delivery is the only way dinner’s going to happen—we get it! But if your kids think all food comes in a plastic container, it’s time to crack open a cookbook or hit the web. There are lots of fast, easy ways to get a meal on the table—“Quick cheap healthy meals” gets over 19 million hits on Google—and that meal will be much healthier since you can control things like sodium, fat and sugar.

Ready to experience affordable health and wellness? You’ve got this!

Smart money tips brought to you by Red SHOES, Summit’s exclusive financial wellness program.

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