1. STOP BAD HABITS AND SAVE. Drinking alcohol, smoking and drug use are obvious targets; however, you may need professional help or a support group if you have a real addiction. If you consume a lot of coffee or other caffeinated beverages such as soda, you can probably stop on your own by cutting down gradually.
2. COOK AT HOME. Yes, we know, it’s more work than takeout, but once you get in the habit, you can prepare a week’s worth of lunches and dinners in about one hour per week. Check out our previous article on cheap and easy brown bag lunches.
3. CUT COSTLY CONDIMENTS. Creamy salad dressings, sweet barbecue sauces and such are packed with sugar, fat and sodium; they’re a waste of money and calories. Learn to flavor your food with seasonings rather than sauces.
4. GROW YOUR OWN. One healthy way to flavor your cooking is with fresh herbs such as tarragon, chives, parsley or oregano. But they are quite expensive to buy in a supermarket or gourmet shop. Here’s how to grow your own and save money.
5. DITCH COSTLY BEVERAGES. Soda, bottled water, pre-mixed iced tea and juices can add a lot to your grocery bill. Drink water as much as possible. Brew your own iced tea with tea bags in a pitcher; even if you add sugar, you’ll likely use less than a store-bought version.
6. SHARE AN ENTREE. We all know it costs more to eat out, but if you really need or want to, you can still save some money and calories. Restaurant portions tend to be large, and often are more fatty than home-cooked food. Share one entree with a dining partner, or eat half your food and have the other half packaged to eat at home later.
7. EXERCISE TODAY. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress, says the Mayo Clinic. An hour of walking or playing ball in the park costs you nothing and is so much more healthy than relieving tension by drinking or snacking.
8. DO IT YOURSELF. If you don’t do it already, mow your own lawn. Tend your own garden. Shovel your own snow. Do your own housecleaning. Perform your own household repairs and decorating. You’ll get exercise and save money.
9. SAVE MONEY ON MEDICATIONS. The healthier you are, the less you are likely to need prescription medications for ailments such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Even if you have a good health plan, those prescriptions still cost the co-pays. Maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure; your body, your bank account (and your doctor) will be happier.
10. BETTER HEALTH EQUALS CHEAPER INSURANCE. If you’re overweight, smoke, have high blood pressure, etc., it will cost you more to buy life insurance, since you’re more likely to die sooner. Who wants that? Give yourself the gift of a long, happy and healthy life.
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