This is first and foremost a personal finance blog, so why am I talking about physical health you may ask. Well, physical and mental health are both linked to your financial health. And what’s the point in having all the money in the world if you don’t have the health to enjoy it? Therefore, this post will focus on how to live well on a budget.
Health is often, and rightly so, considered a privilege. Eating healthy can be significantly more expensive than fast food and the cost of gym memberships and exercise classes can soon mount up.
The UK government has a new focus on healthy living, inspired by Covid-19. In fact, the Department for Health and Social Care is “taking action to help you fight obesity” by:
- Banning adverts for high fat, salt or sugar products on TV and online before 9pm
- Calorie labelling in restaurants, cafes and takeaways
- Ending promotion of high fat, sugar or salt products in store and online
I don’t want to focus on losing weight in this post because that is a personal decision that should be taken with the advice of a professional. Instead, I will look at ways to live well on a budget, because I know I feel much better and have more energy when I’m looking after my health.
This post will cover:
- Eating healthily on a budget
- Exercising on the cheap
- Looking after your mental health
- The importance of sleep
I am not a nutritionist or personal trainer. These are just tips I have personally found useful that will hopefully save you some pennies too.
Eating healthily is one of the keys to living a healthy life, but it’s no secret that nutritious food can be more expensive than junk food.
The first thing to avoid is buying into diet culture. This is essentially a business which makes its money off your insecurities. These programmes rarely want you to actually succeed because then you’ll stop buying their products. It’s perfectly possible to be healthy without buying diet products.
Cheaper supermarkets are a good place to start if you’re looking to eat healthily on a budget. Aldi and Lidl can be great places to start and often offer cheaper alternatives to mainstream supermarkets. Lidl often offers a £1.50 veg box which is packed full of different vegetables. You may not get much choice in what you get but it’s hard to complain when it’s so cheap.
While £20 a week for food may be a bit extreme every week, what this demonstrates is it is possible to eat well without breaking the bank.
Another money blogger who manages to eat well on a tight budget is Mrs Mummy Penny. She recently spoke to The Sun about how she spends just £39.64 for the whole week on food for herself and her three sons, amounting to just £1.42 per person per day.
The key is planning. Batch cooking at the start of the week can help you save money and make you eat healthier. It can also help stop you from popping out to buy lunch each day, particularly when you’re in the office and the temptation is strong. If you’re not keen on eating the same meal every day, you can cook a range of meals and freeze some to eat at a later date.
Another tip for saving money on groceries is to avoid main brands, which are much more expensive than their unbranded counterparts. Supermarkets often place these at your eyeline to draw your attention to them and encourage you to buy their products. Next time you’re in the supermarket, have a look at the other shelves and see if you can grab yourself a bargain.
My social media feeds are regularly filled with influencers attending expensive classes and going to boutique gyms. This not only looks expensive but also can put people off who are just trying to get into fitness.
But exercise doesn’t have to be that way. My favourite form of exercise is running, which can be done on the cheap; all you need is a pair of trainers. It can become expensive with fancy watches and technical equipment but running ‘naked’ can be just as effective and more enjoyable.
If running isn’t for you, walking is a great alternative. You can combine it with doing errands or walking the dogs (if you have a furry friend), making it easier to fit into a busy schedule.
There are also hundreds, if not thousands, of fitness instructors on YouTube all offering a range of free workouts. At its peak PE With Joe was being streamed by over 1 million people every day during lockdown. And if HIIT workouts aren’t for you, there’s yoga, pilates, strength sessions and more all online for free.
It’s also worth having a look to see if any local gyms are offering free trials or discounted membership. Anytime Fitness and DW Fitness First regularly have free guest passes available.
Mental health is equally important in terms of your overall health. Luckily, there are also some cheap ways of looking after your health. However, if your feelings are persistent or more severe then you should seek advice from a doctor.
The Headspace App offers a range of guided meditations for free, building your foundations in mediation and mindfulness to allow you to develop a regular practice. After a free two-week trial, it costs £49.99 for a yearly subscription.
Another option is the Calm App. This offers help with sleep and mediation and, as you would imagine, is designed to calm you. It costs just £29.99 for a yearly membership.
Practising selfcare is useful too. But it doesn’t have to break the bank. You don’t have to book a spa weekend to look after yourself. Simply curling up on the sofa with a good book or doing a face mask could improve your mood.
Exercise can also help, so the above tips for exercising on the cheap could benefit your mental health as well.
This is often neglected when people think about health but is so important. It is also very difficult to spend money while you’re asleep so it’s great for budgeting! It is also proven to help you eat better.
Research has shown that you are more likely to crave foods high in fat and sugar when you are lacking sleep. If you get less than six hours sleep a night you are likely to find it much harder to lose weight.
Staying healthy is difficult for everyone, particularly when you add in time and budget constraints. I’m aware I speak from a privileged position here, generally having time to exercise and being able to afford nutritious food, but I hope these tips will benefit you whatever your circumstances might be and help you to live well on a budget.
For more budgeting tips check out my top four summer saving tips.
If you found this post interesting, please like it and share across social media or send it to your friends. I’d also love to hear your thoughts and experiences, so please do leave a comment! Are you trying to be healthier? Do you struggle to live well on a budget?