Healthy Living on a Tight Budget
by Yvette C. Hammett
Living healthy on a tight budget may seem like a daunting task, but by setting up a self-care plan, prioritizing and shopping smart, the barriers can seem not quite so tall. With so many people unemployed or under-employed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for workable options is more important than ever.
A sports and nutrition company, My Protein, did a study that shows the average American spends $155 per month on health and fitness. That’s $112,000 over a lifetime. There are, however, strategies that can lower these costs.
Jen Smith, a financial writer and co-host of the podcast Frugal Friends, often talks about ways to spend less, save money and be in control of our spending. “You may spend more up front or more on the things you really care about, but cutting out the waste or things that are not so necessary can be a huge cost savings. This is not just for a penny-pinching, stay-at-home mom. Being frugal doesn’t mean you are a cheapskate, but being wise with the limited resources that you have.”
Smith says she had a pricey membership to a cross-fit gym, but in the long run, staying in shape can greatly reduce the costs of health care and prescriptions. “Any way you can stay active is what you need to do. Spending money in any way that gets you to commit to and consistently move your body is the answer.” Focus on eating good food and moving your body, Smith says. “When emphasis is placed more on that and on self-care, you save more money.”
The National Institute on Aging recommends several ways to eat healthy on a budget: use coupons, consider purchasing store brands, know that convenience costs more, focus on priority foods, buy store-brand organics and forgo fresh for frozen organics. Sotiria Everett, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Family, Population & Preventive Medicine at the Stony Brook Renaissance School of Medicine, in New York, agrees. “One thing to consider is seasonality. If out of season and organic, that will increase the cost. If you want clean living and healthy eating for the planet, that doesn’t make sense either, because of the cost of fuel and the pollution involved.”
Everett recommends frequenting farmers’ markets because they offer seasonal, fresh, local, organic produce that is easier on the wallet and better for health. Her favorite tip is, “Learn how to plant foods. You don’t need a lot of space, but do need sun and water access. You can keep it organic. A couple of seeds can give you a whole season’s worth of produce.”
Jody Gatewood, assistant state nutrition program specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and a registered dietitian, works with people on tight budgets through the university’s Spend Smart Eat Smart program. “We do a lot with families with young children,” she says. “They are on a budget and concerned about having enough food to eat. One thing we teach a lot, and it helps with a budget, is to plan your meals. Look and see what is on sale at the grocery store. If there’s a big meat sale, buy it then and use it throughout. I think what happens is if we don’t plan, we go to a restaurant or get convenience foods which can really add up.”
Fresh, frozen, canned and dried foods can all have a part in our diet, she says. “I use a lot of frozen vegetables. If you use frozen, you just heat it up and it is ready to go. Protein can be expensive, so have some meals where black beans or lentils are the source of protein. Have that balance.”
As for healthcare costs, Smith recommends to those that cannot afford typical insurance or costly prescriptions in their budget to consider using manufacturer discounts and a service like GoodRx.com, which details how much prescriptions will cost at different pharmacies.
Consider using a “sharing ministry” for other costs, Smith says. With Liberty HealthShare, for example, people pay in every month and are billed like a cash payer when they have a medical bill while Liberty pays the cash. “When a doctor or hospital is billing an insurance company, they try to get as much as they can, but cash payers pay a lower amount,” she says.
More Frugal Health Tips
by Jason Eagle, QRA
There are many products one can buy to achieve increased and optimal health. But you may already have many valuable “supplements” in your kitchen. Here are just a few.
Start with a morning tonic that can give you a boost, clean out your system, provide optimum nutrients and increase cardiovascular performance.
Here's the recipe:
• One cup hot water
• One to two teaspoons apple cider vinegar
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 teaspoon maple syrup
• A pinch of sea salt.
This tonic has been used for centuries to heal digestive problems, stimulate blood flow and help make a difference in a person's health.
Need help clearing up an infection? Cooking with extra garlic and onions may help. Garlic has antibiotic, anti-fungal, and antiviral properties; and onions are antimicrobial. A favorite is the garlic sauce that comes with many Mediterranean-style dishes.
Here’s a simple (but chilly) way to help stimulate the immune system: alternating hot and cold showers, combined with deep breathing techniques.
Research shows that this "biohacking" technique (used by top athletes and military specialists) can help optimize the immune system, neurologic system and genes. This means that we can stimulate our innate immune system (the one you had as a little kid) and even help reverse the aging process. And it's free!
Jason Eagle is a Quantum Reflex Analysis (QRA) practitioner with Strategic Healing, LLC in Auburn Hills, MI. For more information call 734-985-5891 or visit his website: StrategicHealing.us.