Health, fitness and a better you on a budget
January 3, 2018
Living a healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be expensive!
It’s the New Year, and many of us have made “New Year's Resolutions.”
What is yours?
Is it spending more time with family?
Is it is saving more money?
Or are you like approximately 21% of people who want to lose weight or eat better?
We often set our sights on our resolutions and have high expectations, only to realize that they take time and sometimes MONEY to do.
Getting healthy and in shape is no different.
A gym membership. Quality food. Maybe even supplements. If you're not careful, all these things can cost you a boatload as you build a better "physical you."
Let me tell you from experience though, it doesn't have to be this way! There are so many cost-effective ways that you can be a better you! Don’t get discouraged by what you THINK is a barrier.
Allow me to walk you through how I stay in shape without blowing my budget.
Choosing the best gym for you
The first thing people think of when making fitness their resolution is a gym membership. It can also be one of the costliest things!
With a spectrum of gyms out there (from spa-worthy to rugged cross-fit style), you need to nail down what's right for you.
Before you commit to a gym, make a list of what you are looking for!
Are you a beginner that just needs the basic cardio machines and weights? Do you want a 24-hour facility? Do you prefer a gym with a daycare so you can drop off your children while you work out? Decide what your “must haves” are, and what things you really place value on. This allows you to avoid sales-tactics and pay for what you NEED.
Depending on how specific you are, be prepared to pay a bit of a premium... it all depends.
In my area, there are at least seven gyms that are less than 10 km from my house. Each gym has its unique amenities, but there is something for just about every demand!
Ask around, look online and visit each of the prospective gyms. See what they can offer you. Don’t be shy. When you go in, see what kind of promotions they can offer you. In my experience, each person is given a different rate! Don’t settle for the first quote they give you.
My wife and I joined our gym at a family rate (through my sister-in-law). This saved us over $500 per year. We were able to get access to all of the gyms of that company, yoga and studio classes were included, and it is 24-hours (a perk that we love). Instead of focusing just on cost, we focused on value. And this one, in particular, worked out great for us!
Right across the street, however, is a gym that is half the cost but does not offer a lot of the weights that we would use. For us, we decided that we like our gym and the equipment and will pay a bit extra for it.
Ask for family rates. Use your corporate rate (if you have one). Do you need access to all locations? (Many gyms offer a deal if you commit to only one site).
However you slice it, there are ways to get a deal on a gym membership. And if you prefer to work out at home, look for equipment that is inexpensive to buy but is really practical to use (resistance bands, skipping rope, TRX system, etc). Again, focus on VALUE. Make sure your personal equipment does enough things and gets enough use if you're going to pay top dollar.
Lastly, don’t feel pressure to join a gym because it's January or because you think you need to. If this goal is important to you, find ways to work it into your budget so that you can enjoy the results stress-free. If it's not a big priority for you right now, then wait for that special promotion to pop up and take advantage then!
Related post: How not to overspend and save money
Buying food that's of value
They say that food/diet is an essential piece of your fitness journey. But no one has said that it HAS to be expensive!
There are many cost-effective ways to get all your nutrients in without buying every supplement that is advertised.
I'm not an expert in nutrition but for protein sources, I like to eat eggs, Greek yogurt, chicken breasts and lean beef. I know that chicken/beef can be costly, so I like to get these items on sale or buy in bulk. They freeze well and taste great.
I also like to use a protein powder. I know there are many debates on its effectiveness as a protein source, but I’m not here to get into that. For me, this is a cost-effective and quick way to get my protein in when I am in a rush. Believe it or not, per gram of protein, it's one of the cheapest! I also get this on sale, and as a member of my gym, one of the benefits is a 10% discount on supplements!
I buy all my other fresh and frozen foods when they are on sale, and I try to buy seasonal items. Food costs should not affect your ability to stay in shape!
Meal prep is also a great way to save money on groceries and reach your fitness goals. Being prepared means you won't be tempted to eat out, which we all know can cause a strain on the pocketbook! It will take some planning, but if you are committed, you will find a way to make it happen. Being a better you does not mean being a broke you!
Related post: Why budgeting actually give you more freedom, not less
Buying proper (but not excessive) gear
We all want nice running shoes and some new gym swag to get started. Having a new outfit can be motivating for some people. If this is the case for you or you just need to buy new clothes, then try going to outlet shopping centers. They often have clothes and shoes at a significant discount.
I would also advise you to check out some of the “discount” stores for some gym clothes. Just because it’s not a “brand” name does not mean it’s not good. My wife purchased her yoga pants from Old Navy for $27 and loves them. We are on a budget and $90 brand name yoga pants are not in the picture.
If you are going to splurge on one piece of clothing, I would suggest saving for a nice pair of sneakers. There are many options at the outlet malls, but this is one area I would recommend to pay a bit more for comfort. After all, you'll use them every time you're out!
And last but certainly not least, don't feel like you need to be decked out in all the latest styles. Going to the gym is not a fashion show. That's right, I said it! It's a place to be heads-down, push hard, and get results.
Related post: The one thing most people forget when budgeting
If being a better and healthier you is your resolution, then congratulations! I know this is a big step for many people and requires a lot of commitment to see results.
I'd encourage you to stay with it, and you will be happy you started. Much like saving or budgeting, the short-term pain will soon be overshadowed by the long-term success!
Think it through
- Could you benefit from being more active this year? If so, what could you do?
- Do you feel that you spend a lot of money on "recreation" activities? How could you save money on them?
- What can you do to still eat healthy, but reduce your budget by 10%?
- How to overcome the 7 biggest financial mistakes of the middle class
- The one thing people forget most when budgeting
- Why budgeting actually gives you more freedom, not less
- How not to overspend and save money
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