In a world where efficiency reigns supreme, it’s no wonder we’re all obsessed with life hacks. So what happens when you combine money saving hacks that improve your health too? #winning, that’s what. Here we give you 18 ideas you can implement today to improve your life.
‘Sober curious’ is a buzzword among the wellness warriors these days and for good reason, with studies continually showing the effects of binge drinking and over-consumption of alcohol on your body. But there’s another bonus to ditching the boozy nights, your bank balance! Think about all the money you’ll save by sipping water instead of vodka, not to mention the late night meals you end up spending big on too.
Plant a garden
Seeds cost a fraction of fresh fruit, veggies and herbs so why not start planting? Growing your own garden, or even a window box full of herbs, gives you fresh produce at an affordable price without pesticides or preservatives. Tomatoes, carrots, green beans, and herbs like basil and rosemary are super easy to grow.
Go organic for the ‘Dirty Dozen’
It’s definitely good for your health to eat organic, but it can also be expensive. A smart money saving hack is to be more selective about what you choose to buy organic. The US Environmental Working Group helps us know what’s worth buying organic with its Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists, which indicate the degree that fruits and vegetables are contaminated with chemicals. As a general rule, they recommend going organic for produce where you eat the skin, e.g. apples, strawberries or grapes, and stick to conventionally grown produce with a thicker skin that you remove, e.g. avocados, corn and pineapple.
Start ‘Meat free Mondays’
Give your body and your wallet a break and skip meat at least once a week. Doing so can help lower your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other serious conditions, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Lentils, eggs and tofu are all good sources of protein you can use as a meat alternative.
Organise walking dates
If your week is filled with meeting friends for drinks, dinners, brunches and coffee dates, it might be time to switch it up a bit. Ask to meet for a walk or swim at the beach so you can keep fit and save cash. What about a walk to your local farmer’s market to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables on a Saturday morning? It’s a much healthier and less expensive alternative to cocktails on a Friday night!
If you’re tempted by the convenience of breakfast on the go from your local café, try making it ahead so you barely need to think about it. Portion oatmeal into glass jars, add any nuts, seeds, spices and dried fruit, and place the jars in the pantry. Before going to bed, take one of the jars and add water, dairy or nut milk, perhaps some fresh or frozen fruit, and refrigerate overnight. Then in the morning all you need to do is grab your jar and race out the door.
Shop in season
Shop fruits and vegetables that are in season, as these are always the most nutritious, flavourful and affordable. You can even freeze them for use over the next few months. For example, blueberries are plentiful and cheaper in summer, and they freeze well to throw into your smoothie or over your cereal for the following months. Seasonal Food Guide is a useful tool for seeing what’s in season by city in Australia.
Host a ‘Love In’
Rather than go out to dinner with your friends, why not invite them over to your house instead? But instead of a costly dinner party, host a ‘love in’ where everyone brings a dish and instead of drinking alcohol, you sip tea, share stories and explore your feelings. Your emotions and bank balance will love you for it.
It’s a fair argument that it can be expensive to eat healthy, with a cost of Big Mac half that of a homemade salad. But there are ways to significantly cut your grocery bill by shopping smarter. Buy fresh fruit and vegetables in season or substitute for frozen. In terms of nutrition, frozen produce is on par with fresh, as the produce is often picked at peak ripeness and flash frozen to preserve the nutrients. You may also find some farmers market vendors discount their products towards the end of the market. If you can’t get through all the produce you’ve brought, freeze or juice it, rather than chuck it. It’s also a good idea to buy non-perishables like nuts, seeds, legumes and grains in bulk, especially when discounted. We share more money saving hacks in our post 9 hacks to stretch your household budget further.
Rethink your drink
We’re just as committed to our morning coffee than you are, but here’s the deal: buying a coffee every day costs you on average, $1,800 a year. The little things really can make a difference between getting by and steaming forward financially. Choosing to invest the money you’d normally spend on a coffee could give you an extra $71,000 in retirement. With that in mind, it might be worthwhile ditching your daily barista coffee for a homemade one. You could even experiment making drinks like cacao, matcha or dandelion lattes that show potential on the health front too. It could become your new favourite hobby.
Walk or bike to work
If you’re fortunate to live close to work, why not walk, run or ride? You’ll be surprised how much you can save on public transport, petrol and parking. Wear a fitness tracking device to watch your steps add up as your savings grow too. If it’s working for you, you could ditch your gym membership and save an additional $1,000 a year.
Cook in bulk
After a long day at work or the kids playing up, it’s tempting to grab take out. But if you cook extra portions and pop them in the freezer, you’ll have a meal that’s ready before your Uber Eats driver. Rather than prepare each meal individually, cook in bulk and portion your meal out into separate containers for dinners throughout the week. That way, if you’re caught up late at work, you can still enjoy a meal that’s likely to be more convenient and nutritionally balanced than take-out. As a bonus, you have better control over your portion sizes and are less likely to overeat.
Plan your shop
Planning out your weekly meals and creating a shopping list not only keeps your nutrition on track, but your spending as well. Carve out time each week to plan your meals in advance and hit the supermarket armed with a list of specific items you need. You’ll avoid stashing your trolly with chips, chocolate and other impulse purchases and your waistline will thank you too.
Stock up on healthy office snacks
If you have healthy snacks stashed in your desk drawer, you’ll be less inclined to head to a café for a chocolate cronut. Fruit, nuts, veggie sticks and hummus, protein balls, quality chocolate and plain Greek yogurt are all healthy and easy to store at the office. But beware of processed snack bars, many are deceptively loaded with sugar.
You may think it’s more convenient to buy your lunch each day, but there is nothing faster than cooking a little extra for dinner the night before and putting the leftovers in a takeaway container for tomorrow’s lunch. Not only is this a huge money saving hack, your home cooking is likely to be more nutrient-dense than anything you could buy. Another convenient, healthy idea is to pre-assemble salads for lunch. To prevent a soggy mess use a glass jar, put dressings on the bottom, followed by sturdier vegetables, grains and leafy vegetables. You can make these in bulk to last you a few days if you place a folded paper towel under the lid to absorb any excess moisture.
Swap the soda
One simple way to improve your health, save money and help the environment is good old tap water. Swapping sugary sodas for water can not only save you cash but can also prevent serious health problems, including obesity, diabetes and health disease. If this feels boring and unsustainable to you, try adding fresh cucumber, lemon or mint. If you miss the effervescence of soda, it may be worth investing in a soda stream for sparkling water.
Ditch the gym
Many of us join the egym full of good intentions, but then you hardly ever go. Cancel that pricey membership and find other ways to exercise. Bring your sneakers to work and go for a walk at lunch time. Park far away, race up the stairs instead of taking the elevator, and take a break every hour to move. Covid has forced many of us to find ways to exercise out of the gym and discover this money saving hack. You could run, walk, or do cardio or yoga videos from the comfort of your living room.
Does anyone even smoke anymore? If you’re still smoking it’s time to kick those butts for good. Not only are they harming your heart and lungs (and everything else!) but they’re also doing serious damage to your bank balance. If you spend $35 a day on a pack of ciggies, that’s $12,000 a year you could be saving.
See a financial advisor
Financial advice costs you money in the short term. But a good financial advisor will help you make smart decisions with your money and should give you a strong return on the initial investment. As you gain control over your finances and confidence in your future, your health will benefit from less stress, stronger relationships and sleeping better at night.