Budgeting for a Healthier Life

Investing in your health has numerous benefits – increased levels of happiness, lower stress, a longer life and ultimately a better financial situation are all reasons to take your health at least as seriously as your finances.

We all budget for the normal expenses – rent, utilities, food and savings – but there’s a lot of value to be found in optimising your budget for better health. From getting in better shape to having higher quality healthcare, there are plenty of reasons to set a personal budget for your health.

Food Budget

If you don’t track how much you spend on food every week, you may be surprised by the figures. Most families will have one major supermarket trip a week and will know roughly how much they spend, but it’s the little trips throughout the week that can really add up.

Track your spending over a couple of weeks to see what the average is, then look to see where you can make improvements to save money. While choosing healthy food can be more expensive, effective planning can actually reduce your overall grocery bill.

Planning your meals in advance, preparing a shopping list and ensuring you don’t deviate from it are great ways of sticking to your budget. Bulking up meals with cheap vegetables can save money, as can saving your leftovers and using them for lunches. There are some great tips here on reducing your food bill while keeping things healthy.

Fitness Budget

The cornerstone of the commercial gym industry is people signing up for a membership, turning up for 2 months and then continuing to pay their member fees without actually using the facilities. We’ve all been that person or know a couple of friends or family members doing this right now, and it’s a huge waste of money!

If you use your gym membership regularly by all means stick with it, but there’s usually a few ways to save money. Is there a more affordable gym in your area? Is there one closer to your home or your office which would help reduce travelling expenses? Would it be cheaper to buy a weight set and train at home?

The same applies to any sports or other fitness hobbies – always shop around to see if there’s a better deal on things like equipment or clothing. It’s easier than ever to find a good deal online, so invest the time and you’ll start to see the financial benefits.
Healthcare Budget

Budgeting for your healthcare is a lot like budgeting for anything else in your life. There will be a few regular costs like health insurance, and several one-off costs like a new pair of glasses or physical therapy.

Setting aside the right amount for these one-off expenses can be tricky, as you never know if (or when) you’ll need them and how much it will cost. The best approach is to use a ‘rainy day fund’ type approach and commit to saving a certain amount every month, ensuring you have money available if it’s needed.

When it comes to budgeting for health insurance it all depends on your existing health, your risk factors and the type of policy you want. If you can reduce your risk factors for the conditions most commonly claimed for on insurance policies, the likelihood is that you’ll be offered a more affordable premium. Quitting smoking, cutting down on the amount of alcohol you drink, and eating less fatty and processed food are all simple ways to reduce your premium.

Choosing a more comprehensive policy will obviously be more expensive, but you need to weigh up the pros and cons of picking better coverage. If you have a family or are self employed, you may decide that better coverage is worth the additional investment. It’s a very personal decision, and the monthly cost isn’t always the deciding factor.

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