Wanting to save money is pretty much the best excuse to get out of doing those things that you know you should do but don't want to — like getting vitamins, signing up for a gym, and ordering from that health food place you saw on Seamless, for example. In a world where
avocado prices are rising, boutique workout classes are upwards of $30, and even workout clothes are creeping into splurge territory, it's easy to wonder: Do I have to be a billionaire to be healthy? Thankfully, no.
How much you choose to spend on your health (which includes exercising, seeing doctors, and eating foods) is totally up to you and based on your own cashflow situation. But in reality, you can be a real cheapskate
and health conscious at the same time. It just takes a little studying and planning. Think of it like taking the SATs: It seems like an annoying, insurmountable task (that's good for you in the long run), but once you learn the tricks and prepare, it's totally manageable.
Here are some tricks for shopping for groceries, dealing with health insurance, and
working out without spending a ton of money.
Sign up for a CSA. CSA stands for "community supported agriculture," and it's a pretty sweet deal. When you sign up for a CSA, you buy a "share" of a local farmer's vegetables, and then they send you a package of them every week. You pay one fee (around $400 to $600) for the season (usually June to November) and they'll send you a huge container of produce every week. It also forces you to incorporate fruits and veggies that you might not buy otherwise.
Walk your commute. If you can, try walking to work, and if that's too far, try walking to complete one of your weekly or daily errands. Studies show walking outside can make you happier and less stressed, and that's just what you need to bookend your day. Think walking is boring? Call a parent or a friend, or turn on an engaging podcast.
Start coupon-ing. Ignore the coupon lady stigma, because coupons are the real MVP of grocery shopping. Whole Foods has an app that you can use to download coupons, but ask the cashier about the promotions you find, because sometimes they're not advertised in-store.
Shop around fitness studios. Many boutique fitness classes offer a new-student discount on your first class or class package, so you should take full advantage of those promotions. Try a different studio every month if there are enough options in your area.
Just use YouTube. There are workouts — gloriously free workouts — on YouTube ready to go at any time. Unlike many on-demand fitness streaming services, you don't need an account to watch them. Find one that you actually like here.
Join a meet-up. There's a good chance that there are free meet-ups happening all over your city that you just don't know about yet. Find one that fits your niche health interests (like dog agility, backpacking for gay people, or nude dance, for example), and your quirky hobby might just become a habit.
Plan your meals before you shop. Embrace your spreadsheet skills and plan out what meals you're going to make throughout the week, so you know exactly how much food to buy at the grocery store. You'll feel better going into the week with a plan, and you'll be less tempted to make impulse purchases.
Ask "dumb" health insurance questions. Health insurance is epically confusing, so don't be embarrassed if you have a million questions about what you're paying for. Like, what does your out-of-network coverage cost? Can you get reimbursed for gym memberships? Do you really need that expensive plan? Ask your company's human resources department, and you'll feel better about the money you actually have to spend.
Video chat your doctor if you can. If your health insurance provider has the option to speak with a "tele-doctor," you should totally do that for non-emergencies. Popping over to urgent care might seem easier than setting up another insurance thing, but the tele-doctor appointments are usually way cheaper — and, at the very least, they can tell you if you should go see a doctor IRL.
Be "that friend" who knows all the cool workouts. Referring a friend to your favorite workout studios or gyms can often score you discounts. If you were going to spend $34 on a spinning class anyway, you might as well try to get a friend to tag along and lessen the price.
Stop smoking cigarettes. This isn't news, but yeah, smoking cigarettes is pretty bad for your health. Even if you're a casual smoker ("only socially" or "only when I'm drunk"), quitting will help you save money that you can put towards more important things, like your Seamless account.
Chill with the antibiotics. If just the sniffles makes you hit up your doctor for a Z-Pak, you might want to do a quick gut-check first. Obviously, you should listen to your doctor, but antibiotics won't help cure your common cold — they treat infections — and many people make this mistake and end up paying a lot for doctor's visits and prescriptions. If your mucus turns green or you feel pain around your sinus region, it could be a sign you have an infection and OTC meds won't cut it, so in that case, you should see a doctor for some antibiotics. Also, if your temperature is 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, or you've had a fever for more than three days, definitely go to the doctor ASAP.