The best way to achieve and maintain a healthy body is intense physical activity that burns more calories than you eat on a daily basis. The best way to achieve and maintain a healthy budget is intense scrutiny of purchases that save more money than you spend. Here are seven ways to do both at the same time. (Want to learn more about budgeting? Don't miss our feature Budgeting 101.)
- Just Do It
Cut your own grass, rake your own leaves and shovel your own snow. Why pay for lawn care service when you can get the job done in place of a gym membership? Sure, you could do it faster with a leaf bower, riding mower and a snow blower. They range in price from $30 to more than $3,000 depending on the fuel used and the horsepower. Plus you have to either buy gas or pay for electricity and don't forget maintenance costs.
But, after using a manual mower ($95), a sturdy leaf rake (about $25) or a snow shovel ($25), there's no need to go to that expensive fitness club which can average $35 per month in fees. Use the Health Discover Calorie Burning Calculator to determine how many calories yard work can burn.
- Keep Your Cool
In the winter, turn down the heat and wear layers of clothes to do housework. Keep moving sweeping, mopping and dusting to work up a sweat. Also, park the vacuum cleaner and use a manual floor sweeper to get that extra calorie burn. Use the same principle in the summer by turning off the air conditioner and wearing fewer clothes. Save on energy bills while maximizing the calories burned doing normal activities.
- Dump the Pump
High gas prices are a dieter's best friend. Refuse to pay those astronomical prices for at the pump and just walk for transportation. Cities with excellent public transpiration systems make leaving the car at home easier, but even then the increasing costs of fares may prompt you to simply don your trusty walking shoes and forge your own route to work or school or anywhere else you want to go. The net result will be a leaner body and a thicker wallet.
- Banish Junk
Don't buy food that's not food. Eliminate everything from your grocery list that has limited or no nutritional value (all junk food). Soda, candy, potato chips and other snacks that contain more sugar and calories than your body can burn off make it difficult to lose or maintain a healthy body weight. They can also make you broke. Ban junk food and save enough on your food bill to buy those smaller sized clothes you're going to need. (Make it to the end of the month, before you run out of money in The Beauty Of Budgeting.)
- Push It
Park at the far end of the store parking lot and don't take a shopping cart. You will buy less because you know how far you have to lug it and get your exercise carrying your purchases. Don't worry about exercising with wrist and ankle weights; just remember that fruit weighs more than a bag of chips in your grocery bag. An added benefit is a reduction in stress. There's no need to fight for a parking spot because you will be the only one all the way back there with your choice of spaces.
- Run for the Money
Run in a charity 10k. The money you donate to qualified non-profit organizations is tax deductible and you will need to train to run in the event. For many non-profits, individual giving is their biggest source of funds. You can deduct up to 30% of your adjusted gross income from your annual tax return (you must itemize deductions on your tax return and have a receipt for amounts $250 and over).
Having a positive goal with accountability to the organization will motivate you to get out and train. Make charity runs a regular part of your exercise routine to keep your body healthy and Uncle Sam out of your pocket. (Learn more about how generosity can reward your wallet in Deducting Your Donations.)
- Grow Your Grub
Cultivating a vegetable garden involves moderate physical activity and produces healthy food choices. Vegetable seed packets range in price from 95 cents to $2.00. Create your own compost with coffee grounds, egg shells, newspaper and other decomposable household items. You'll work up a sweat hoeing, weeding and harvesting. Freezing and canning will preserve your food through the winter.
Gardening has been shown to reduce stress and homegrown vegetables and herbs are much less expensive than the price of fresh produce at the grocery store.