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Staying Healthy on a Budget

written by Guest Blogger July 31, 2012

Having a healthy financial life is part of living a healthy lifestyle (stay tuned to my upcoming book review of “Debt-Free Forever” by Gail Vaz-Oxlade). So I was very happy when guest blogger, Felicia Baratz, sent in this post full of practical and easy-to-follow tips on staying healthy on a budget!  

There are plenty of tips for staying healthy, but if you’re on a tight budget, you may take one look at them and see dollar signs instead of wise advice. While it’s true you can spend a lot of money on your health, it’s also true that there are plenty of ways to stay healthy on a tight budget.

What you do before you get sick is just as important as what you do once you’re sick, but the prevention is often much less expensive than the treatment. Therefore, focus on taking steps to avoid getting sick:

Eat Less Meat and More Produce: Meat is the most expensive component in most families’ meals, and eating less of it will free up money in your grocery budget to eat more fruits and vegetables. Try using black beans in place of ground beef in your favorite recipes to cut back on costs, and snack on carrots or apples with peanut butter instead of chips, cookies and other similarly priced snacks full of empty calories. As you eat more fruits and vegetables, your body will have the vitamins and minerals it needs to fight off illness.

Exercise Regularly: Getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise can help strengthen your cardiovascular system. When your heart is strong, it helps fend off heart disease, blood pressure problems and other health issues. In addition, exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and avoid weight-linked health problems, like diabetes and high cholesterol. And of course, exercise improves your overall health and immunity to things like colds and the flu. Walking and running in your neighborhood is inexpensive, or you could purchase a used exercise bike and put it in your home for a convenient workout without having to pay for a gym membership.

Take Advantage of Discounts: Most of what you need to buy, whether it’s healthy food, vitamins or medicine, has discounts available. Grocery stores often mark down seasonal produce or items that are getting a little old, but are still fine to eat in the next day or two. Also, watch for sales at your local drugstore and purchase vitamins and medicine when they’re discounted. If your health insurance doesn’t cover the prescription medication you need, look into signing up for a prescription discount program. In many cases, these will save you money on your bottom line.

Avoid Allergy Symptoms: When you have environmental allergies, buying allergy medicines can put a huge dent in your budget. Instead of relying on these, do what you can to naturally avoid substances that cause allergic reactions. Watch the weather report to find out what days have high pollen counts, stay indoors on those days and keep the windows closed. In addition, keep your house clean year round to remove allergens already in the home.

Cover Medical Expenses: There are times when you really do need medical care, and you’ll have to pay for it. Rather than putting it off – this may make you sicker – head to the doctor and ask for a payment plan if your insurance won’t cover anything. Remember that you can take out a small loan to cover immediate healthcare costs and prevent more expensive problems down the road.

Finding creative and low-cost ways to avoid getting sick is a great method to stick to your budget. You’ll see major savings through lower medical bills and health care costs. In addition, you won’t have to take unpaid sick days or pay for childcare if your school-age child is sick and needs care while you go to work. Plus, your whole family will feel better and have more energy for fun activities.

About the Author

Felicia Baratz is a writer living in the Indianapolis area. As a writer for doseofmyown.com, she specializes in articles about health and nutrition.

Another tip I’d like to add is to grow your own veggies in the summer (one of my tomato plants is almost as tall as I am!) and naturally preserve the extra produce to use during the winter months. Do you have any tips on staying healthy on a budget?

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1 comment

Dr. Robin Terranella August 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Thanks for the great tips that I can give to my patients. Many strive to lead a healthful lifestyle, but costs can add up. These are informative and important things to keep in mind when on a budget! We also provide information on living a healthy life on our blog, http://www.swintegrativemedicine.com/blog/

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