Choosing Long-Term Health

The big difference between “frugal” and “cheap” is long-term vs. short-term. Many things are “cheap” right now, but end up costing more later.  Although I love to save money, I don’t want to purchase the “cheapest” option at the expense of my health. These are my personal values and priorities. Others may have different priorities and choices. Here are a few examples of how yours truly opts for long-term health over short-term savings.

1. Food

            Nutrition is a vigorously debated, but I think most of us agree that eating natural, nutrient dense foods is a major benefit to health. We choose organic foods where it makes sense and try to limit our consumption of processed, chemical-filled food. We also try to visit restaurants that use local, natural ingredients. It usually tastes better too! We still definitely eat unhealthy foods on occasion (and enjoy them). Life is all about balance right?

            Eating a healthy diet is attributed to the prevention of most chronic diseases. While it may cost a bit more to shop the perimeter at the grocery store, the lifetime of health benefits is still a frugal choice.   

            Healthy food still doesn’t need to be a budget buster though! A lot of coupons are for processed junk food, but natural food manufacturers are publishing coupons on their websites and most tried and true grocery saving strategies (shopping sales, stockpiling, menu planning, cooking from scratch) still work. Some healthy eating habits will even save money right away:

  • 1. Drink water instead of soda or juice
  • 2. Buy frozen fruit and veggies when fresh options are not in-season
  • 3. Start a garden or U-pick
  • 4. Pack lunches with baggies of carrots, grapes and crackers instead of single-serve convenience foods
  • 5. Choose salads and nutrient -dense sides (sweet potatoes, brown rice) to accompany smaller portions of meat

2. Exercise

            Its possible to exercise for free (walking outside, using exercise videos from the library), but I’ve found that most people must spend at least a modest amount on exercise. Combined with a healthy diet, exercise helps prevent many chronic diseases, reduces stress and releases mood-boosting endorphins.

            Whether it’s a gym membership, home gym equipment or just buying a quality pair of running shoes, find out what works for you and make it a regular habit. Paying for a gym membership that goes unused is just wasted money.

Other healthy behaviors are win/win frugal choices that save money right away. Hello, stop smoking already!

3. Safety

            While this is also debatable, purchasing quality products that are highly rated for safety is another health-related priority that makes sense for us. The big things that come to mind are cars and baby-products.

            Newer cars tend to have more safety features (airbags, ABS, spin-control and the list goes on) and it makes sense to consider safety when purchasing a vehicle. We all want to protect our families, but I’m not suggesting you go into debt to buy a new car just because of safety features. With some research, its possible to buy a safe, used car too. My husband still drives a car without airbags, so when the time comes (and the savings is there) to buy a new-to-us car, we will definitely consider safety features and safety ratings.

            Since we don’t have a family yet, I have yet to dive into the baby product world. However, I do know from friends and family that some baby items may be more expensive, but should be purchased new to ensure safety of little ones.

Ideally, we would all be able to afford the healthiest and safest products. In reality, choices must be made and sometimes there just isn’t room in the budget or time in the day to research and make the best decision. Other times, you just have to give in to the cheeseburger craving or take a day off from exercising for mental health reasons.

Healthy options are high on our priority list, so we have reduced spending in other areas (cable, cell phones, clothing, etc) to allow room in our budget for them. No matter how big or small the budget it’s all about prioritizing and each family has different priorities.

I am interested to hear what others think so please comment and share how you prioritize health and safety spending.


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