Money-saving tips

There are many ways to be fitter and more healthy while spending less money. Here are some ideas to get you started. Feedback welcome.

Get smart and inspired

Combine ancient wisdom with the newest scientific research to craft your own affordable lifestyle changes.

Turn off the TV
Start by turning off the television sometimes. Reducing commercials and stimulation will help clear your head. Then you can make better choices and start new habits — like sitting less and sleeping more.

Get better information
I like to say that most people aren’t broken, they’re just confused. Get a clear plan and learn a few tricks. Skill power beats will power. If you have an Internet connection, you can get a lot of great ideas and information for free. Check out the authors I mention on this website. Many have blogs or offer essays or downloads. For example, I offer free sample PDFs of two of my magazines sold on iTunes. Alternatively, borrow some books from the library. Use this information to craft your own affordable lifestyle changes.

Look to your ancestors for inspiration
For clues, look at how your ancestors lived. Your prehistoric ancestors didn’t have much money. They evolved over many thousands of years to live with the rhythms and resources of nature. Even your great-great-grandparents lived without electric lights and modern chemicals. The ancient wisdom and ways of your ancestors should inspire you.

Real food is really worth it

With food, the key is to get more nourishment for your money.

Quality, not quantity
There’s no avoiding it. Real food costs real money. Some of my least wealthy clients have fundamentally decided that real food is worth it. They eat well, but eat less. They avoid wasting money on food that isn’t good for them, so they can buy food that is.

Cook with fresh, high-quality ingredients prepared simply. Fresh fish or vegetables with grass-fed butter makes an exquisite meal.

Shop local
Find local food sources with other people. Also, eating animal foods “nose to tail” wastes less.

Free stuff

Sleep is free
One of the worst health problems in the US is chronic sleep deprivation. Go to bed early, darken your bedroom, avoid overstimulation and take naps during the day.

By the way, turning off the lights at night does more than save on electric bills. Our bodies evolved to be acutely sensitive to light. Turn off the lights at night to sleep better. Go to sleep earlier in winter so your body rests and burns fat.

Sunshine is free
Instead of taking vitamin D pills, make your own vitamin D by getting sunshine in the right amounts for your skin, season and latitude. Vitamin D from sunshine is more likely to be better balanced with other hormones.

Walking is free
Walking is great — better than running. Make walking part of an active lifestyle.

OK, dogs aren’t free. But, if you have a dog, take your dog for a free walk. Dogs and people have many of the same lifestyle diseases from sedentary lifestyles. Walking helps health happen at both ends of the leash. Bonus: Walking your dog may save on veterinarian bills.

Breastfeeding is free
Children are definitely not free! But breastfeeding them is. If you are a woman, breastfeeding your children is one of the best things you can do for their brains and their health. If you are a man, support women breastfeeding in the workplace and in public.

Fasting is free
Fasting means voluntarily abstaining from all food for a discrete period of time that you have decided in advance. This teaches lifelong eating skills. I recommend trying a mini-fast (24 hours or less) no more than once a week. After a meal, put down your fork, and decide to eat again in 24 hours.

Lower-cost alternatives

More health, fewer beauty products
Health is beautiful. Clear skin, lustrous hair and sparkling eyes are prized as beautiful because they are signs of health. By enhancing your health with good food and healthy movement (and lots of free beauty sleep!), you can cut back on cosmetics and body products.

Less stress
Overstimulation and stress undermine health, sleep and beauty. Especially if you have more time than money, slow down and de-stress. Bonus: it will help you change what your eat and how your body uses it.

Gym alternatives
There are many ways to be fit without going to an expensive gym. New approaches to fitness emphasize an active lifestyle with plenty of movement instead of occasional narrow exercise.

Variety is good. Simple is good. Actions as simple as walking barefoot or in thin-soled shoes, when practical, can stimulate your brain.

Lose any excess weight

Getting to your normal, healthy weight is a good idea for a dozen reasons, including reducing the odds of illness that could keep you out of work and require costly medical care.

It might lower your health insurance premiums. One of my self-employed clients wrote me:

“Dr. Theresa, thanks to your advice, I was able to cut my monthly health insurance premium from $456 to $305 in 2012. I signed up for a health insurance policy at a quoted rate. Then the insurance company’s first bill was much higher because I was ‘obese’ according to the body-mass index (BMI) table. I appealed my premium. By the time they considered my appeal six months later, I had lost 20 pounds (verified in a doctor’s office). Given evidence of my much lower BMI, the insurance company reduced the premium to the original quoted rate.”

Of course, procedures differ and she got lucky.

Bonus: My client’s favorite business outfit fits again, savings hundreds of dollars more! Do you have nice clothes that don’t fit? Think of all that money hanging in your closet. Use your skinny pants to measure and motivate. Remember, success comes from good habits and long-term changes, not crash diets that boomerang!

DrTheresa.com, Theresa Nesbitt and her publications provide general information on health and wellness. This general information is not a substitute for health advice and medical care from physicians who know you. Please talk to them before making significant changes in your lifestyle. Complete Terms of Use and Disclaimers