Lately, I’ve been trying harder and harder to make a life-style change: eating healthy. I’m determined to trim my waistline just like I trimmed my debt, but at first I wondered: Won’t the costs of eating healthy break my budget?
As I’ve been focusing on making healthier choices in the grocery store, I’ve also been paying attention to how they affect my budget.
Here’s what I’ve found: when you account for the money you’ll save by eating healthy, the costs balance out while your health improves.
I’ve been working on getting healthier and since changing my diet and adding the popular P90X workout program, I’ve also been feeling good about getting closer to eliminating my need for prescription medication. I have already been seeing the doctor less and less frequently. You might not see the savings immediately, but in the long run, a healthy diet will benefit your finances. I no longer buy into the myth that it’s more expensive to eat healthy – just like I no longer believe the myth that you need debt to have a life.
Upon beginning my new healthy diet, my first revelation came quickly…
Eating Healthy at Home is Cheaper than Eating Out
Regardless of where you go or whether or not you eat healthy, eating out is going to be expensive.
When my family and I eat out, it usually costs us around $40. And while that seems small, it also adds up quickly. Just limiting the number of times we eat out to the bare minimum has greatly reduced our food costs.
Even though whole foods, fruits, and veggies seem more expensive when you’re in the checkout aisle, they cost less than a dinner out.
Here’s another thing I’ve learned:
Portion Control Makes Eating Out Affordable
If you’re on a healthy diet you can arguably eat less.
With fewer empty calories and less filler, the nutrients your body needs can be had in fewer servings. Exercising portion control is wise and eating healthier food that’s high in fiber with wider ranges of vitamins and minerals pairs well in limited consumption.
Believe it or not, this is a big money saver, too!
Cutting our unhealthy snacks and only eating enough to feel full – not stuffed – will help make wiggle room in your budget for the new, more expensive items.
Here are 3 RISKS I’m feeling good about dabbling with less now that I’m eating better:
Risk 1: Doctor Visit Co-pays
Being overweight and unhealthy almost always means more trips to the doctor’s office each year. I see my doctor 6-8 times a year, and every time I do I pay a $20 co-pay. Someone in tip-top shape and consistently good health may only need one check up a year, costing them $100-$140 less per year in doctor’s visits than it costs me. While $20 every couple months doesn’t seem like a lot, it adds up fast.
Risk 2: Higher Medical Bills
If you’re unhealthy, co-pays are just the beginning. If you have to pay for fitness tests, blood tests, or other specialized procedures to gauge your overall well being, you’ll likely have a greater financial obligation. A couple of years ago, my doctor thought I might need a stint due to an irregularity with my heartbeat he noticed during a fitness test. Luckily I was fine – but only after spending $200 out-of-pocket. Being healthier reduces your risk for these kinds of complications and unexpected expenses.
Risk 3: The Need for Expensive Medicine
Eating foods high in fat, sugar, and sodium – especially if you’re already overweight – increases your risk of having high blood pressure and high cholesterol, as well as your risk for diabetes and heart disease – America’s #1 killer. The medication needed to treat these diseases or disorders could be very expensive, maybe more than the hit your monthly budget would take by making healthy choices at the supermarket.
PerkStreeters, what do you think? Is the added short-term expense worth the long-term savings (and overall benefits) of eating healthier? Weigh in with a comment below!
Brad Chaffee is a PerkStreet Customer Columnist who also authors Enemy of Debt, a place where he passionately but candidly tackles the psychological issues related to our own habits and behaviors regarding money. Brad and his family crawled out from under $26,000 of debt and some major bad habits to become debt-free in 20 months, and he believes that if they can do it, you can too! Aside from his blog, you can connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.