One of the complaints I hear the most from those just starting a budget is that they want to get their finances under control, but they don’t believe they can do so and maintain their health at the same time. That’s totally not the case, which is why I wanted to address this issue about how to stay healthy without spending more money.
In fact, when Justin and I first started budgeting we did so in combination with a weight loss goal. We cut out sugar, watched our portion sizes, and prioritized exercise. Just those simple adjustments allowed me to lose over 50 pounds! It took planning, but it was definitely worth it.
So, as you can see, staying healthy without spending more money is possible, you just have to know how.
Step #1: Know What Your Goal Is
To start, it’s important to be clear on what your goal is when it comes to staying healthy.
- Are you looking to lose weight?
- Want to gain muscle?
- Wish those skinny jeans would fit again?
- Eliminate inflammation from your body?
- Maintain normal blood sugar levels?
…or maybe you just want to feel confident when you head to the beach this summer?
Whatever it is, when you know what you want the end result to be, you’ll be able to plan accordingly to achieve it. Like anything, staying healthy takes prioritizing but you can’t prioritize if you don’t know what’s important.
So, take the time to decide what your goal is, as well as the time frame you’d like to achieve it in.
Once you know your goal, you can begin considering how you’ll reach it. Most healthy goals come with the need for diet changes and increased exercise, so let’s discuss a few of the ways you can manage them without wrecking your budget.
Step #2: Make Diet Changes
Food purchase make up a significant portion of the average monthly budget and “healthy” foods have the tendency to be more expensive. But, there are plenty of ways to ensure that you maintain a healthy diet without breaking the bank.
Identify the Foods You’ll Eat
It’s easy to dictate what you WON’T eat, but if you want to stay on track with your budget, it’s critical that you identify which foods you WILL eat so that you can plan accordingly.
For example, if you are going sugar-free, you might just say you can’t eat sugar at all. So, what foods will you eat? Will there be exceptions for items in which the sugar is cooked into an otherwise healthy meal? Will you continue to eat your protein bar each morning even though it has a little natural sugar in it? Will you consume fruit?
Be clear on this ahead of time so that you don’t have to guess when it comes time to eat. That will help you keep your budget (you won’t purchase items you’ll later decide not to eat) and achieve your goal of staying healthy.
Create a Meal Plan
Once you know what you’ll eat, it’s time to make a meal plan. You can roll your eyes at me if you want, but honestly, the key to sticking with a budget (and staying healthy at the same time) is planning ahead. That includes the meals you’ll eat.
You can choose to do this weekly, biweekly or monthly, but just make sure you remain consistent with it. List out the meals that you’ll eat each day so that you know what you’ll eat and when you’ll eat it. This takes the guesswork out of “what’s for dinner” and prevents you from giving up and just ordering pizza (not good for the diet or the budget).
Tip: Grab my FREE printable Meal Planning Worksheet HERE.
Once you’ve completed your meal plan, you can compile your grocery list and head off to the store.
Consider Food Alternatives
The hardest part of maintaining that healthy lifestyle and a budget at the same time is actually in the grocery shopping stage. It’s easy to get caught up in the candy bars and chips in the checkout lane, but it might also be challenging to purchase every ingredient on your list within the budget you’ve set for yourself. This is especially true if you’ve completely changed your diet and don’t normally stock the items that you will be incorporating going forward.
Instead of panicking, take some time to consider alternatives. For example, you may have planned tacos for your family and intended to use ground beef. But, if the ground beef price is too high, it might be a good idea to consider ground turkey or even chicken as an alternative. Both are still healthy options, but they allow you to more closely stick to your grocery budget.
You could also do the same with fruits and vegetables (choose the less expensive option) or purchase the cheaper frozen or canned option.
Note: We rarely specify what kind of fresh produce will be used for meals ahead of time. Instead, I look for the most cost-effective option that will pair well with whatever meal we’ve planned. That alone has saved us a significant amount of money over the years.
You may find that even simple adjustments such as cutting processed foods or sugary products can make a huge difference in your waistline AND in your budget, too. Those items don’t come cheap and they offer little to no nutritional value.
Step #3: Look for Free or Low-Cost Workouts
When it comes to the exercise end of staying healthy, it might be tempting to think that you need to run out and get a gym membership.
No. No. No.
If you don’t already have a gym membership that fits comfortable within your budget, then now isn’t the time to start one. Instead, look for free or low-cost workout opportunities to get started.
Outdoor activities such as walking, running, jogging, biking, swimming, etc. can all be great ways to increase your movement throughout the day without spending more money.
Of course, if you prefer to complete an indoor workout, then there are many low-cost and free options available as well. You can choose to purchase a DVD or digital copy of a workout that you use regularly. There’s also the option of utilizing YouTube and all of the resources there to create a workout playlist you’ll love.
A few of my favorites indoor workouts include:
- Jillian Michaels: 6 Week Six-Pack
- Callanetics: 30 Day Countdown to a More Beautiful Body
- Yoga with Adriene
- 7 Minute Workout with Lucy Wyndham-Read
Another thing you’ll have to consider when you’re just starting out is your gear. Personally, I’m okay with investing in the correct gear in order to be successful, but only if it fits into the budget. If you are tight on funds but still need an item or two, consider checking out thrift stores or asking around in your community. It’s likely that someone will have an unused item they’re willing to part with.
Whatever you do, don’t let the lack of gear keep you from getting active. Pull on those pajama pants or do that indoor workout in your underwear. Either way, get it done. Your future you will thank you.
Stay Healthy Without Spending More Money
Whether you have a health goal for the year or not, it never hurts to find ways to stay healthy, even when the money is tight. Use these strategies to stay on track and you’ll find that you’ll have more motivation to keep up with both.
Whatever you choose, I’m here to support you. You can:
- Grab my FREE Weekly Meal Planning Template HERE.
- Submit your budgeting and home organization questions HERE.
…or jump into the Lemon Blessings’ Membership for an insider’s look at all of my personal meal plans, recipes, grocery lists, budget worksheets, and more.
Remember, if you don’t ask for the help you need, you’ll never get it!
Cheering you on!