Wallet-Friendly Health Hacks

Before we started shelling out cash for CBD lattes, adaptogen cocktails, and chlorophyll water, we relied on a few tried and true health hacks. These simple tricks aren’t only backed by science – they’re also wallet-friendly. 

At a restaurant? Order water. From an early age, this was the norm in my family. No soda, no sweet tea, no lemonade – we ordered water. I am sure health was on my parent’s mind, but mostly I know it was to keep costs down. How brilliant! My parents were also making an impact on our health by encouraging us to drink water instead of sweetened beverages. But what does the science say? Turns out, a lot. Sugar-sweetened beverages aren’t just more expensive than water ($2-5+ versus $0), but regularly consuming sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with poor health outcomes.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to have a great glass (or few) of wine and can easily fall into the habit of drinking every time I go out to dinner. I’ve experienced the benefits of skipping the wine at the dinner table and can tell you that this is one of the most impactful ways you can improve your health and save some cash. Let’s do some quick math. Say you’re out to dinner three times per week and you choose to drink wine. If we’re being reasonable then maybe that wine is $10/glass (or $15+ if you’re in NYC). You drink two glasses then you’re at $20 for one dinner - $60 for all three. Do you see where this is going? That’s $240/month or $2880/year. That’s a vacation or two! Or lots and lots of fresh fruits and veggies if you choose. Some of the benefits of drinking less include better sleep, more energy, improved mood, more motivation (in some cases), and a reduced risk for cancer.

Seasonal produce is often fresher than the non-seasonal produce and it’s usually less expensive. That is a winning combo. If you don’t know what’s in season, you can do two things: visit a farmers market and check out this handy chart. There’s a difference between seasonal and local, so just because citrus is in season doesn’t mean that it’s local if you’re living in Seattle. But, that citrus in January in still likely to be less expensive than the strawberries, for example.

Repeat after me: Food Labels are the Billboards of the Grocery Aisle. I’m not talking about the Nutrition Facts Panel on the back or side of the package. I’m talking about the colorful, eye-catching, front-of-package labels with fancy sounding health claims. Many of the pantry staples can be purchased generic without any difference in taste or quality. Of course there will be times when a brand is preferred because of taste, uniqueness, or other reason, but know that price between two products that are exactly same is not representative of the nutrition. Just because something costs more does not mean it’s better for you.

It’s easy to talk yourself out of being active if you don’t have a stake in the activity. Usually that stake is money, but there are ways you can make it happen without the threat of a late cancel fee hanging over your head. Get creative by combining activities with something else you enjoy. Think walking on the home treadmill during your favorite show, going for a run with a friend, skipping the bar in favor of an active date, or doing a circuit workout while you’re at the dog park. Still looking for ways to stay active without spending lots of cash? Read on.