Disclaimer: I'm actually admittedly terrible about budgeting, but I am trying to get better. I have always loved a good deal, though, so there’s that. Wanting to stay well can seem like a big undertaking, with all of the expensive smoothies, workshops, and fitness classes surrounding us. But staying healthy doesn't have to break the bank! Below I’ve listed five broad lifestyle choices that promote wellness and can be employed continuously to maintain health without any major spending. I stand by them as foundational decisions that can be made daily—by anyone striving for optimal health at low cost.
1. Focus on produce, and eat local.
First off, if you are trying to stay healthy on the cheap and you need to remind yourself what true health is, just remember that what you want is your body and its metabolism working optimally. Feed the machine, so to speak, and feed it well. How can you do this without loads of cash? Take it back to your roots and hit a local farmers market or join a food co-op. Even the most sparse of food stands will have something fresh, local, and more nutritious than your other "budget-friendly" food options out there. The other option is to simply limit yourself to the produce section of your local supermarket and make plants the base of each meal. Your wallet will get lighter and it's likely you will, too.
2. Skip the alcohol.
If you're looking to achieve optimal health on a budget, one of the best things you can do is skip the cocktails, beer, and wine. Alcohol is a treat that can turn nice into naughty—whether it be your health or your bank account. So if you are aiming for health and stable finances, skip it. Your liver will thank you; your skin will thank you; the list goes on and on. If you simply can’t stay away altogether, moderation is key. Opt for a single glass of wine or one vodka soda, and mentally pat yourself on the back for your amazing self-discipline.
3. Master the living room yoga practice.
The health benefits of yoga are widely-known and indisputable at this point, so if you aren’t doing it, you should start! I’ve been a yogi in and out of many studios and styles for roughly 10 years and therefore know for a fact that if you want to practice, you will find a way. A session on your laptop in your apartment is no less beneficial than a $22 dollar one at studio, and there are always free or donation-based community yoga classes being offered, so check your local paper regularly. In the end, you are your own sanctuary; you are the temple, the student, and the teacher. For true ballin’ on a budget, consider yourself a walking, talking, free yoga studio at all times.
4. Take advantage of (free) technology.
We're in a time when technology is colliding with every industry—but especially health. And there are so many amazing apps out there. Back pain? Try a digital back pain management app. Stressed? Instead of spending money on meditation or yoga classes, try downloading a free meditation app and practicing 20 minutes each day. Even if the app does cost money, you can often take advantage of free trials to decide if it's something you really want to invest in.
5. Set boundaries, play, and feed your soul.
Finally, go to the free art show. A healthy dose of work-play balance is necessary if you are aiming for true health that not even money can buy. Do you need to stay at the office, or are you trying to impress your boss? Set boundaries, go home, unplug. See your friends and family; go to the free art show. If you find that you’re someone who puts a lot of pressure on themselves to achieve success in your career, you’re not alone. But take some time to nurture that side of yourself that only comes out when your guard is down, around those you love, doing things you love to do. This is a priceless practice that will feed your soul for free.