They say that time is money, but do you ever think of money as weight? Consider the amount of money you spend on food groceries, meals out, snacks during the day and now think about all that money you spend on unhealthy food as extra weight that you carrying around.
When you look at it this way, the food you re eating is putting weight on your waistline while stealing money from your wallet. It s time to re-think your approach to eating healthy on a budget by spending wisely.
If you use a personal finance software product, then good for you. We ve combined some of the money-saving wisdom from some of our favorite finance aficionados with some sound advice on healthy eating to deliver a set of guidelines that will help you have a healthy wallet and a healthy lifestyle.
Establish a percent of your budget that you think is realistic for spending on food, and use your favorite financial software to track your intake. Don t cheat!
- Groceries and meals out are the obvious categories to track, but don t forget that vending machine snack track that by using a split feature for your cash expenditures or the latte you had at midafternoon, and definitely don t forget to record after-work drinks on Friday.
Now how does that food budget number look? A bit bloated? Tracking exactly how much you spend on food and beverages can really be an eye-opener that will shock you into skipping some of those high-calorie snacks and extras.
- Identify healthy foods that can help you stretch a dollar. Buying a whole chicken is a lot less expensive than buying boneless-skinless breasts. If you roast it for Sunday dinner, you can use the leftovers to make soup that can carry you through three more meals. Start to identify healthy and fun ways to cook that will minimize your expenses, maximize flavor and increase your savings account.
- Analyze your budget along with your calories. If you ve ever looked at programs like Weight Watchers, you know the system works on a budget. Eat healthier and you typically have more budget to spend with your calories. Eat a piece of cake and you re calorie-poor. There is logic to this method beyond calories the more processed a food is, the more it typically costs.
Start your own budgeting method when you purchase food and allow yourself to spend more of your grocery budget on healthy fruits and vegetables and a lot less of your budget on foods that have low nutritional value.
- Most budgeting software programs encourage you to set a goal for what to do with the money you save. Lots of diets do something similar. Develop short-term goals for your healthy lifestyle and allow yourself a splurge once a week. Also, if you track your food spending and your costs go way down, consider what kind of treat you want after a few months. If you are able to transform your eating habits with this new budget by forsaking a bunch of take-out meals over a three-month period of time, it can really add up. Get dressed up and go out to that fancy restaurant and splurge for a night, or buy that bathing suit you wouldn t have been able to fit in before.
- Really can t help yourself? Use the envelope method. Leave all your credit cards at home and go to the market with the cash amount that your budget dictates for groceries. Try this just once and you will be very surprised at how it changes your behavior. This is the method that people with serious spending problems are advised to try; apply it to your health and see what kind of choices you make.
Healthy eating on a budget is possible and attainable. It s not easy to budget money, and it s even more difficult to budget calories. When you combine the two and turn it into a bit of a challenge, you might just wind up with a lot more than you thought: a healthier life and a healthier bank account.