In our last post, we talked about how to save money by washing your own car (free step-by-step guide here) and buying in bulk with a twist.
This week, let's cut the fat. Literally. Many of us are out of shape and unsatisfied with how we look and/or feel. It's because we eat too much, get little if any exercise, and generally just don't give ourselves the time to work on our physical health.
Exercise, but not at the gym. The first thing you ought to do is cut the gym membership fee. If you don't go, or you miss more than one time per week, you'll save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars per year by canceling your membership.
Gyms, health clubs, fitness centers, whatever -- they all bank on you not showing up, so you can help them realize one of their goals by not showing up. However, cancel your membership too.
You can get a great workout for free at home by doing some simple exercises. What you want to do is approach fitness in 4 prongs: Food, stretching, strengthening, and cardio.
Here's the quick lowdown:
- Food. Don't eat junk. Don't eat out of packages. Eat 6 small meals per day.
- Stretch. Warm up before you exercise by stretching, and running in place or hopping.
- Strengthen. Hit the major muscle groups: Legs, chest, back. Squats, pushups, and pullups.
- Cardio. Walk, run, or cycle.
Here's a great guide to getting started (courtesy Amateur Asset Allocator). I will write up my fitness plan and strategies in an upcoming column.
Eat out, but eat out once per week, max. Eating out is fun, it can be healthy, and it's a great social interaction. But it's terrible for your pocketbook. Meals made at home can cost anywhere from one tenth to one half the cost of a restaurant meal. You also know exactly what you're getting when you cook at home. Prepared meals often are extremely high in calories. You can blow your whole fitness plan by eating out too often.
However, there are places that offer healthful meals. You just gotta find them in your locale. None of the chains are any good (Chili's, Applebees, Black Angus, etc.). The meals they offer are not only high in calories, but they're also high in saturated fats, sodium, and who knows what pesticides and other junk. And they cost a lot of money.
None of this is to suggest that you don't eat at restaurants, even those mentioned above. Just frequent them infrequently.
You'll save your diet, your health, and your money.