Making positive lifestyle choices could not only improve your health, but your finances – who’d have thought it? With so much to gain, there’s every reason to get on board the health train this year. Read our top tips below to find out how a healthy lifestyle and a healthy bank balance can go hand in hand.
1. Walk wherever possible
It might sound simple, but by making the decision to walk short distances, instead of driving or catching the bus, you could save hundreds or even thousands of pounds a year on fuel and travel fares.
Whatever age you are, walking also does wonders for your health, costs absolutely nothing and can be as gentle or as vigorous as you like. By walking for 30 minutes a day you could lose weight, increase muscle and bone strength, and improve your cardiovascular fitness (reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke). Many people also find that walking is great for mental health too. It’s a chance to unwind and relax and to think with a clear head once again.
If you’d like to walk more – either to work, the shops or just for leisure – make sure you allow yourself enough time to get where you’re going. When you’re running late, it’s can feel like an easy excuse to jump in the car or on the bus to get somewhere quicker, so try to be organised and plan ahead of your journey.
To make any new lifestyle choice easier to stick to, the best way to ensure success is way to maintain any new habit it is to incorporate it into your existing routine. So why not try picking one or two of your regular journeys, and then plan to walk those as a starting point. You’ll quickly start to feel the benefits of being more active.
2. Cut down on alcohol
If you’re drinking more than 14 units each week then you could be damaging your health as well as your finances. In case you’re wondering, 14 units is the equivalent of of six pints of beer, six glasses of wine or six double shots of your favourite spirit.
By sticking to 14 units or less each week, you’ll reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, be able to concentrate better, and be less likely to suffer from alcohol related depression. Drinking less also makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight, as alcohol is high in calories and low in nutrients.
Most pubs, bars and restaurants have a great selection of soft drinks and mocktails available, so you can still meet up with your friends and have a good time, even if they’re drinking and you’re not – you’ll just be spending less and you won’t wake up feeling sluggish the next day.
With any new habit, the first two weeks are always the hardest. But once you start seeing the benefits of reducing your alcohol intake such as having more energy, getting a better night’s sleep and having more money in your pocket, you will feel more motivated to carry it on – and your body and your bank balance will thank you for it.
With the government increasingly taxing activities that it believes are bad for your health, the price of alcohol has increased significantly in the last few years and you might not be aware of how much your evening tipple now costs you each month. If you want to find out more, this handy tool can give you a better idea about how much you’re spending on booze every week – you might be surprised.
3. Drink more water
Water is one of the most important things you can give your body, and when it’s from the tap, it’s completely free! If you’re looking to cut down on your spending, introducing more water into your daily routine is one of the simplest yet most effective ways you can do this. NHS guidelines recommend that we should all drink 6-8 glasses (or about 1.2 litres) of water a day for our bodies to function well.
If you’re trying to shrink your outgoings as well as your waistline, try drinking at least one glass of water before each meal. It should help you feel fuller and help you eat less – and if you’re eating less, you’ll start spending less on food.
The same applies to alcohol – if you’re planning on having a few drinks with your friends, why not try having one glass of water in between each alcoholic drink that you buy? Chances are you’ll end up drinking far less alcohol, which will save you money and help you feel a lot fresher the next day.
Other than helping you keep hold of the pennies, water is also great for lots of other things, for example, your skin, your fitness and your digestion.
How many glasses of water have you drank today? The chances are, not enough. Time to go and get hydrated! It’s never too late to up your intake and with so many benefits, why wouldn’t you?
4. Look after your smile
Prevention is better than cure. And by that we mean, take care of your smile! By looking after your teeth on a daily basis, you could save yourself hundreds of pounds by avoiding some costly treatment at the dentist.
The best way to make sure your teeth stay in tip top condition is to:
- Reduce your intake of sugary and/or acidic food such as cakes and fizzy drinks because these can cause erosion and tooth decay.
- Keep your teeth clean by brushing with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day.
- Floss daily to remove any food trapped between teeth.
- Drink more water. This will help to keep your mouth clean and stop it getting too dry as this can increase your risk of tooth decay.
Even if you’re looking after your teeth well, it’s still a good idea to visit your dentist once or twice a year for a routine check-up. This way, if anything does go wrong, your dentist has more of a chance to nip it in the bud before you develop any further (more expensive) complications.
5. Quit smoking
A smoke-free lifestyle comes with so many benefits. By making 2019 your year to give up smoking, you could drastically improve your health whilst saving hundreds (or even thousands) of pounds each year.
As a non-smoker you should have more energy, breathe more easily and reduce your chances of developing a smoking-related disease, such as heart disease or lung cancer. Your skin will also get more of the nutrients it needs (including oxygen) to delay the appearance of wrinkles.
In case that’s not enough of an incentive, you will also be saving money every time you decide not to head out to buy a packet of cigarettes. With the average price of a pack of 20 cigarettes being £8.25, smoking even 5 cigarettes a day will still cost you £750 a year.
So why not make this the year to give up and treat yourself to a well earned holiday with the savings. Find out how much you could save each year, using the NHS cost calculator.
We all know there is no magic bullet for keeping the finances in good shape, but by making small changes to simple everyday habits you might be surprised at how quickly it all adds up.
Got any other tips? Then please email them to [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you.