Do you want to get fit in the new year and save money? These common New Year’s resolutions can seem like oil and water for how well they mix together.
Between the costs of gym memberships, new workout gear, and nutrition plans, it’s easy to drop a lot of money on the road to becoming healthier. The price can get so high it may even feel like your health comes at the cost of your financial fitness.
But here’s some good news for 2022: you don’t need to give up on saving to focus on your health. There’s a way to find a balance between your financial and fitness goals.
Understanding What Health Costs Are Essential — And Which Ones Aren’t
The first step is understanding the difference between essential and non-essential health expenses. While you can lead a healthy lifestyle without a gym membership, it’s next to impossible to be healthy without affordable access to a doctor or dentist.
You should set aside money each month in your budget for these visits, plus some cushion to include any procedures or medication they may prescribe. You can use this cash to pay these costs out of pocket or to cover your monthly insurance premiums.
What happens if you fall short of what you need in an emergency? Don’t postpone critical care because you can’t afford it.
In an emergency, you can see if you qualify for a cash advance online. If all goes well, a cash advance can help you pay for urgent care or lab tests without delay.
Online cash advances come in many shapes and sizes. This term describes payday loans, installment loans, and even revolving lines of credit. On top of that, each online loan or line of credit can vary drastically in costs depending on your financial profile.
In short, a cash advance can be a safety net in case your healthcare budget falls short of what you need for essential, unexpected medical expenses. For more information, you can check out MoneyKey to learn about online cash advances and how they work in greater detail.
Make These Healthy Habits to Boost Fitness and Save Money
Unearthing more money in your budget for medical costs and savings might be easier when you adopt these habits in the New Year.
1. Quit the Gym
When most goal-setters think about exercising, they may picture doing it in a gym. But a gym is an expensive addition to your budget.
On average, a membership costs $58 a month. By cutting this expense alone, you could save nearly $700 a year.
Luckily, there are cheaper ways to work up a sweat. You can achieve almost any fitness goal for free with no equipment. All you need is a phone, laptop, or TV that connects to the Internet.
You can visit YouTube to stream classes of your favorite exercises — from yoga and Pilates to barre, HIIT, kickboxing, CrossFit, and more. There are also plenty of free apps that act like a personal trainer, coaching you through at-home workouts.
Many of these classes use your body weight to build muscle, so you don’t even need to invest in costly workout equipment. If you want more of a challenge, you can use household items like books and canned goods in place of weights. Or, like Rocky Balboa, you can run with bricks in your hands.
2. Start Walking More
Walking is one of the best exercises for your physical health and mental well-being. Best of all, it’s free!
Think you need to hit 10,000 steps to see improvements? Not so — any step count is better than nothing. Plus, research shows increasing the number of steps you take in a day can improve your health, with most benefits topping out when you reach between 7,500–8,000 steps.
That said, working up to 30 minutes of brisk walking a day comes with these specific health benefits:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Improving cardiovascular fitness
- Improving muscle and bone strength
- Reducing the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke
- Alleviating depression
3. Meal Prep Balanced Meals
You don’t need protein powders, pre-made meals, and supplements to succeed. You can hit all your daily nutritional needs when you eat balanced meals and snacks.
Take some time to learn what makes up a healthy plate. It usually contains proteins, fats, and carbs, plus a good helping of leafy greens or fruit.
You can hit these goals without reaching for costly protein powders with a simple meal prep. Every week, spend an hour or two thinking about the meals you want to eat in the week. Then prep them — either by getting the ingredients ready or by making the meals in advance and freezing it for a later day.
This subtle change to your cooking habits means you won’t have to rely on costly fitness foods to meet your nutrition. And, with a frozen meal waiting for you at home, you’re less likely to pick up takeout on the way home from work.
4. Shop Wisely at the Grocery Store
Eating a balanced diet rich in carbs, proteins, fats, fruits, and vegetables is the key to getting fit. These healthy foods contain all the essential nutrients you need to fuel your body, build muscle, and slim down.
However, it can be hard to keep your fridge full of all this good stuff when you’re on a budget. Fresh food may seem more expensive than drive-thru takeout or highly processed snacks depending on where you live.
But a few changes to the way you shop for food can unlock greater savings without sacrificing nutrition, no matter where you live.
Here are some tricks to try at the grocery store:
- Try canned or frozen fruit, vegetables, and meat. They’re cheaper, just as nutritious, and last longer than their fresh alternatives.
- Try the cheap duo of rice and legumes. These two ingredients create a complete protein when combined to keep you full longer.
- Shop with a list, making sure you don’t go off script to put costly snacks in your cart.
- Use a coupon app to find savings on the items on your list.
- Take advantage of your credit card or store loyalty card to earn and redeem points.
Being Healthy Doesn’t Have to Cost a Lot
These four tips can kickstart your health journey without breaking the bank. In fact, they may even save you money. So be ambitious this year! Exercise at home and shop wisely — these newly formed habits can help you get fit and save more money in the new year.