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A Healthier Lifestyle and Your Finances

By David Bakke

live healthy, save moneyI recently wrote about the financial benefits of quitting smoking. In a nutshell, one of the points I attempted to make is that if you can’t quit smoking for health reasons, then maybe you’d be motivated to quit for financial concerns. If you think about it, you can apply this idea to a healthier lifestyle as well. I think it’s safe to say that we all know that we should live a healthy lifestyle. We are bombarded with ads about it on television, the radio, and the internet. Yet we as a society are, on the whole, fairly “unhealthy.” We are addicted to salt, sugar, caffeine, trans fats, and other silent health “killers.”

Live Healthy, Save Money

So if you can’t improve your lifestyle out of respect for your own body or things of that nature, would you do it if you could save some money? Personally, I had always done a pretty good job of caring for my body, but once I learned the financial benefits of living healthy, it motivated me even more. Don’t get me wrong; I am by no means a health nut and I love to eat with the best of them. But I’ve realized that there are some serious financial gains to be made by living healthier.

The SESME Diet

Regarding your diet, I have a wonderfully simple diet that can easily kill two birds with one stone. I call it the SESME diet. Here it is:

Stop Eating So Much & Exercise

It’s simple (well, simple to write). Less food means having to buy less at the grocery store. If you reduce what you spend there, you save money. Obviously, the biggest culprits would/should be junk food, sugary soft drinks, and if you care to, substituting your red meat with more fruits and veggies. And perhaps you take this a step further and start an organic garden or figure out some other sustainable way of eating healthy. A strategy like this is not only fun and engaging, but can have long-term financial benefits as well. There are some awesome ways to eat organic on a budget and save money by growing a home garden. As far as exercise, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend money on some expensive gym membership or buy some fancy equipment. There are definitely ways to also exercise on a budget. Check out these 11 ways to exercise and be healthy while saving money.

Reduce/Eliminate Indulgences

As I just got done saying in a recent post, if you smoke cigarettes and you can’t motivate yourself to quit for health reasons, how about quitting to save money? It’s what I did. Consider doing the same with your alcohol intake as well. By no means am I saying to go on the wagon, but again, if you cut back a little here and there, you will save money as well.

Longer Life = More Income

Another aspect of a healthier lifestyle that I think some people fail to realize is the potential for income earnings. Obviously, the longer you live, the more time you will have to earn income. Let me qualify my thoughts on this. Obviously, this concept does not concern your retirement years regarding income earning potential (and in fact could have the opposite effect), but, as a healthier person, won’t you be able to enjoy your retirement more fully? If you are working hard to make sure you have enough money for your retirement, wouldn’t you want to be healthy enough to enjoy it? Let that thought settle in for a second. Maybe that gets you to think about your priorities a little harder.

Also, being healthy ensures your ability to earn a full living all the way up to your retirement age. If you can’t retire early, you want to take advantage of these years so you’ll have enough money before and during retirement.

As I said before, we should all be living healthy lifestyles for many reasons other than financial. But, if you need a little boost in your motivation to get started living a healthier life, then why not take into account the financial advantages of doing so?

(photo credit: pinksherbet)

David Bakke
David started his own personal finance blog, YourFinances101, in June of 2009 and published his first book on ways to save more and spend less called "Don't Be A Mule..." Since then he has been a regular contributor for Money Crashers. He lives just outside Atlanta, GA and most all of his free time is taken up by his amazing three year old son, Nicholas.

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Comments

  • http://www.gobankingrates.com danielle

    One good thing to try to cut out completely is buying bulk junk food. Buying a 5-lb bag of Doritos or Cheese Puffs, or a gallon of ice cream, at Costco isn’t necessarily a “good buy.” My rule is if it’s not in the house, I won’t eat it. Inversely, if I have a 5-lb bag of Doritos laying around, I know exactly where it’s going to go!

    • David/moneycrashers

      Danielle

      You hit the nail on the head. I am a true believer in the “if its not in the house…” thing. I am living proof actually.

      Yes, you are right, nothing good comes from a 5# bag of Doritos!!

      Thanks for commenting

  • http://controlyourcash.com Greg McFarlane

    Thank you. Having read this post, I now know that smoking, eating garbage and failing to exercise lead to poor health.

    • David/moneycrashers

      Greg

      Yep–its certainly not rocket science..thanks for commenting

  • Kaz

    Wow.. this is borderline insulting. I’m going to guess you have never been seriously overweight in your life. Eating less food and exercising more doesn’t budge the needle much for those who are seriously overweight and have been so since childhood. Those who have been a healthy weight their whole life think that they live better, healthier lives than those who are overweight, and consider themselves superior to fatsos who just don’t understand not to eat so many Ding Dongs. You got a better roll of the genetic and cultural dice, and you think this qualifies you to give advice about your genius diet plan.

    • David/moneycrashers

      Kaz

      It was never my intention to insult anyone, I can assure you. If I did so, I sincerely apologize.

      The point of the article was to display the correlation between aspects of a healthier lifestyle and how it affects your finances. Yes I do mention diet but I also mention smoking and alcohol and other things.

      I have been as much as 50 pounds overweight in my life. I don’t know where that lands me regarding the genetic or cultural dice, and I can only tell you that I write about things from my perspective, which is based on my experiences.

      Again, if I offended anyone, it was never my intetnion to do so.

    • http://change-is-possible.net Heather

      I was overweight my whole life until about 10 years ago … when I stopped eating too much and started exercising.

      Even if you’re eating healthy food, it’s possible to eat too much.

      If you significantly undereat, you can gain (or not lose) weight.

      If you’ve eaten an appropriate amount of calories and gotten all your nutrients and exercised on a regular basis and haven’t lost any weight, you might want to get some blood tests done.

      • David/moneycrashers

        Heather

        That’s some very relevant points to the conversation, I appreciate you adding them in

        Yes, undereating can be just as dangerous as the contrary.

  • Kevin

    Wow. Just wow. Mr. Bakke is clearly not a nutritionist, exercise physiologist, nor even remotely educated on the subject. If it were as simple as this the poor would not be the most overweight. Eating healthily is expensive. Kraft dinner is cheap. Moreover, weight in general is a not even so simple. Genetics and metabolism play a much larger role than the writer is apparently aware. Do you think that Samoans tend to be overweight on account of their cultural love of Twinkies? This article reflects very poorly on this site, the author, and the editors for letting it run. It is less about finances than the author patting himself on the back for something not actually in his control. Maybe next time you could do some research instead of self-righteous moralizing. Hopefully, by then, you won’t have lost all your readers.

    • http://controlyourcash.com Greg McFarlane

      Come on, people. Please don’t put readers in a position where they have to choose sides between the blogger wasting our time by reciting patently obvious advice and the overweight commenters who have ready-made excuses for eschewing such advice.

      • Kira

        This isn’t financial advice – it’s just “hur hur fat people are stupid”.

        • David/moneycrashers

          Kira

          I am sorry if my article was taken in the wrong context. I never meant to call anyone stupid.

          Thanks you for commenting

      • David/moneycrashers

        Greg

        Thanks for chiming in. Obviously, this is a hot-button issue.

        Maybe my adivce was patently obvious, but it was several years before I myself realized it and put it into practice.

        • http://controlyourcash.com Greg McFarlane

          …and I shouldn’t have said you were “wasting our time”. That was uncalled for.
          But still.

    • David/moneycrashers

      Kevin

      You are right–Iamnot a nutritionist, nor an exercise physiologist. As far as my education on the subject, I can tell you this.

      My family has quite a history with obesity (inclduing myself). I have cloe relatives who have struggled with their weigh their entire lives, and I have had my ups and downs as well.

      If my post came off as over simplified or even condescending, then I sincerely apologize.

      I was not trying to pat myself on the back nor was I trying to be self-righteous.

      I am fully aware of how devastating and difficult the stugggle with being overweight can be.

      The article was not merely about anyone’s weight, I also mentioned the benfits of cutting back on smoking and alcohol as well.

      However, if I offended anyone, then I do sincerely apologize–as it was never my intention.

  • http://change-is-possible.net Heather

    You can buy enough dry beans and rice to live on for a week for $5. Add in whatever vegetables are in season for another $5 for the week. It is healthier than mac and cheese.

    Convenience foods are expensive. Convenience foods also tend to be not good for you. If you cut them out, you will save money and be healthier. I believe that was the point of this post.

    I’m sorry so many people are hyper-sensitive to their weight problems, but genetics don’t play as large a role as the “I can’t do anything about it” people would like to believe.

    If your metabolism is slow, all that means is that you need less food to survive, not that you’re automatically going to be overweight. People who have the longest, healthiest lives have low metabolisms and eat accordingly. So if your metabolism is slow, eat less. You might need to take some time to figure out how to eat so that you’re not hungry — the Standard American Diet isn’t going to do it for you — but it is very possible, and it is not expensive.

    • David/moneycrashers

      Heather

      Your comments are appreciated more than you know. You’re right, the point of the post was to cut out some of these things and to “kill two birds with one stone” so to speak. It was never meant to offend people who have problems with their weight. As I explained in an earlier repsonse, my family has quite a history with obesity so I know full well what it can do to a person.

      The genetics issue, well, who knows?

      I’d rather not expand on that one.

      Convenience foods are expensive, and the fact that they’re convenient means that they are probably not that haelthy.

      It is much more time consuming to cut up fresh vegetables all the time than it is to just pop something in the microwave.

      Its a complex issue, but I sincerely thank you for your comments

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