6 Ways To Improve Your Health And Your Finances
Pack your lunch
This isn’t groundbreaking advice, but it’s so fundamental that it bears repeating. In 2015, Visa surveyed American consumers and found that they purchase lunch from a restaurant an average of twice per week and spend more than $11 on average per outing, compared to spending an average of $6.30 per day preparing their own.
Health-wise, even seemingly healthy restaurant options can be nutritional bombs when you take into account oversized portions and hidden ingredients. The USDA Economic Research Service crunched the numbers and found that each additional meal or snack eaten away from home adds an average of 134 calories compared to the same meal or snack prepared at home. That means one meal away from home each week could translate to 2 extra pounds a year. At home, you can control the amount of fat, sugar, and sodium that goes into your meal. So pack your lunch to improve your waistline and your bottom line.
Get perks at work
My husband’s employer covers the cost of his health insurance in full every month that he gets at least five hours of exercise. He tracks his activity using the Map My Fitness app. We also get free health insurance for our son when we take photos of him participating in physical activity including his karate classes and t-ball games. These small commitments save us several hundred dollars per month and are a huge financial incentive for all of us to be active.
While his employer’s plan is one of the most generous I’ve seen, more companies are offering incentives in an attempt to motivate employees to take charge of their health and control rising health care costs. Talk to human resources at your company and make sure you are aware of any available benefits. You may be able to get free health insurance, reduced-price gym memberships, earn gift cards or other rewards, or put money into a pre-tax account to save for health care costs.
Take advantage of free preventative health services
Most health plans, including those available through the Health Insurance Marketplace, offer preventative services at no cost, even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible. Available services include certain cancer screenings, tobacco cessation, blood pressure screening, and vaccines. Check out the list if covered services for all adults, women, and children on the Healthcare.gov website and take advantage of these healthcare services with no out-of-pocket costs.
I recently started working from home full-time, and the first thing I did was invest in a standing desk. Whether I’m preparing tax returns or writing this article, much of my work involves being tethered to a computer. Even if I spend time working out daily, all of that sitting increases my risk for heart disease and diabetes. The average health care costs for someone with one or more chronic diseases is five times greater than for someone without such a conditions.
To reduce the amount of time I spend sitting, I invested in a Varidesk, but you can find a standing desk option for much less. The Oristand is a standing desk made of industrial grade cardboard and costs just $25.
Get a library card
What does the library have to do with health and finances? Actually, a lot. Reading offers several health benefits including preventing Alzheimer’s and reducing stress. If you haven’t visited a public library since your school days, you may be surprised at what the library can offer these days. Most public libraries offer eBooks, eAudiobooks, computer classes, business startup and LinkedIn workshops, meditation and yoga classes, and other educational programs aimed at improving body and mind, all free of charge.
Go for a walk
In 2013, a study in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology reported that walking briskly can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Just 30 minutes a day can have a serious impact on your health and your wallet. Walking instead of paying for an expensive gym membership (that most of us aren’t using anyway) can save you anywhere from $10 to $100+ per month.
Taking small steps to improve your health can have a big impact. Make some small changes today to live better, feel better, and improve your finances along the way.
Article by Women at forbes.com