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Boost Your Savings While Getting Healthy

By Matthew Pryor
for Sound Mind Investing

Would you like to add to your savings? Probably so, but finding extra dollars to put into savings is a challenge for everyone. Would you like to start a new fitness program? Perhaps not. But what if you could boost your savings by getting healthier? That might just be the catalyst you need to make some lifestyle changes. Here are four ways to get started.

Eat real food. Sure, processed foods are cheap, but they aren't satisfying because they are void of many of the nutrients found in whole foods. So rather than spending $12 on frozen dinners to feed the family, you could buy chicken breasts, fresh broccoli, and whole grain rice—all for under $10. And you would have leftovers to boot. Annual Savings: $700+

TIP: When grocery shopping, stick to the perimeter of the store: produce, breads, meats, and dairy. The aisles are where the tempting, highly-processed foods are lurking.

Investigate work and insurance wellness programs. Office wellness programs are a growing trend. These plans incentivize employees with prizes, discounts on goods, reduced insurance premiums, and of course, bragging rights. Insurance carriers love them because healthier policyholders mean fewer claims. And employers love them because healthier employees mean fewer sick days and better productivity. Annual Savings: $300+

TIP: Contact your human resources department to see if any wellness initiatives are available to you.

Avoid habit foods. How many foods do you eat out of habit rather than necessity? And of those foods, how many could you switch to a healthier version, without the name brand? I'm talking to all the daily $4 Starbucks latte drinkers out there. Or maybe you're a $1.99 "soda and muffin on the way into work" kind of person. If you traded in that high-calorie coffee or muffin for some office coffee and a banana, you'd put money in your pocket and still keep the pep in your step. Annual Savings: $400-$1,000

TIP: Coffee, in and of itself, is low calorie and not necessarily bad to drink in moderation. It's the creamers, sweeteners, and fancy flavors that often make it unhealthy. So if you can't switch to black, try something different altogether like green tea. Green tea costs pennies per serving and has significant vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant benefits.

Quit the gym. The average monthly gym membership costs about $42, and the typical member visits his or her gym less than twice a week. Thinking of it in daily terms, it's not unreasonable to suggest that roughly $30 of the typical $42 membership fee is being wasted. Furthermore, gyms are notoriously bad at actually producing results. Members who get positive outcomes often pay for extra services such as classes, trainers, or various health assessments. Instead, skip the gym and head to the park or community center for some exercise. Ride your bike to work. Or consider "active" hobbies such as gardening, which can burn 250 calories an hour or more. Annual Savings: $500+

TIP: My favorite place to exercise is at home. With a plethora of DVD workout programs on the market today, you can get amazing results without ever leaving your house, which is also a huge time-saver. Of course this requires an upfront investment. But unlike your use-it-or-lose-it gym membership, a DVD program is yours forever (and the cost-per-use gets cheaper every time you hit play).

Putting these suggestions into practice will be hard at first, but the payoff will be worth it. Getting healthier as you get wealthier—that's what I call having a sound mind and body.

    Matthew Pryor is on the staff of Sound Mind Investing, the best-selling investment newsletter written from a biblical perspective. SMI wants people to have more so they can provide well for their families and generously support God’s work.

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