Money saving habits wreaking havoc on your health

by Karen on July 14, 2009

Last week I wrote that frugal eating habits are also healthy eating habits. Since Tony and I restricted our budget even more, we’ve experienced a ton of positive health benefits, including weight loss, increased energy, and better sleep. It’s really made me start thinking about the balance between frugality and good health.

The truth is, it’s possible to take it to the extreme and practice unhealthy habits by trying to save money. As with other aspects of frugality, maintaining good health on a frugal budget requires balance. Here are some money habits that may be wreaking havoc on your health.

Cheap processed food

It’s no secret that fast food is cheap and convenient. Sunday paper coupons and sales can help you purchase processed foods at the grocery store for next to nothing. But at what cost? The recent documentary, “Food Inc.,” highlights the dangers of low-cost foods, and why they’re making the nation overweight and unhealthy. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I do recommend avoiding “cheap” food. Instead, shop smart for fresh foods, buy produce when it’s on sale, and always strike a balance between food cost and good nutrition.

Avoiding health care

When our budget was at its tightest, we did the unthinkable: we lived for a year without health insurance. Dumb. The truth is, private health insurance isn’t nearly as expensive as you think if you’re young and relatively healthy. My husband’s costs $148 a month. Even if you have health insurance, you may be avoiding the doctor to avoid paying co-pays. Skipping checkups, refusing to visit the doctor, or ignoring health problems to avoid health costs is not a smart way to save money. That $20 co-pay could turn into thousands in medical bills if you’re not treated promptly.

Skipping exercise

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to pay for a gym membership to get active. I’ve found that $20 a month for gym membership is well worth the cost, but you may not be able to fit even $20 a month into your budget. If that’s the case, check out an exercise DVD from your library, go for a jog, or take a bike ride. You don’t need to spend money to get in shape.

Stressing about money

I’ve said it before: frugality is about improving your quality of life. Putting yourself under constant stress about money can lead to a wide array of health problems. If you find yourself obsessing about money because of your frugal habits, take a step back. Remember that the whole point of being frugal is to live a healthier, happier lifestyle by reducing the amount of stress you face about money.

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