Learn seven frugal tips for improving health and wealth for you and your family today and into the future! This year, World Health Day is on April 7, 2018. It is a timely reminder to apply the brakes and take stock of our physical health regardless of our age.
In our pursuit of money and a comfortable life, we tend to forget that body and mind need “servicing” to make sure we continue to run smoothly. You need to have a healthy body and mind to pursue more money. There is little satisfaction in earning pots of wealth but being unable to enjoy them due to poor health. But the beauty of life is that you can indeed have both better health and improve your finances, all with a little health housekeeping.
1. Don’t Compromise Health for Money!
The very first thing you need to do now is to make an appointment for a full body checkup to assess your existing health condition. (This is comparable to finding out your financial net worth). For a quick assessment of your health, try this Personal Health and Finance Quiz (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey).
Simple changes in your lifestyles and habits can help you be healthier. In the long run, this saves you a substantial amount of money from expensive health care cost on various avoidable diseases. This is especially so with rising expensive healthcare costs and medical costs inflation.
Take small steps and changes every day. Every step forward is progress! Maintaining good health should be placed as the #1 priority while in our pursuit for financial independence. Your body and mind needs to be fit and healthy to carry out money-generating activities.
2. Stop Smoking
This is classic evergreen advice to have better health. It is tough to quit but it is doable when you have the right motivation. Cigarettes are not only expensive (a pack of cigarettes costs RM17!) but you will be paying even more on future healthcare expenses if you don’t stop smoking now.
The main adverse health effect of prolonged smoking is cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, every pack of cigarettes smoked a day equates to healthcare costs of USD35 (RM140) per day for healthcare costs due to smoking related illnesses. This works out to USD13,000 (RM54,000) a year! A smoker also needs to pay a higher insurance premium compared to a non-smoker.
It is especially difficult to quit addictive habits. For help and more information, consult your physician or visit the “Tak Nak Merokok” program (MyHealth official MoH Malaysia portal).
3. Exercise while Being Financially Savvy
Exercising 30 minutes daily is a good habit. No matter what type of activity, the important thing is to exercise. Being physically inactive increases your chances of getting different types of illnesses and conditions such as coronary heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, breathlessness, low energy, stiff joints, osteoporosis, poor posture, and obesity.
For some, a gym or fitness centre subscription makes sense especially when you make full and frequent use of the amenities, classes, and fitness coaching. For others though, a fitness centre membership sets one back on average RM150 a month (often paid one year in advance) or RM20,000 for a lifetime membership. This is a big investment and can be risky as businesses may unexpectedly shutter. Last year, a major player in the fitness industry suddenly announced the closure of their outlets in Malaysia and Thailand leaving thousands of members in the lurch. One distraught member claimed that he had just purchased a lifetime membership package two days before the shocking announcement.
If your office/company has a gym, make use of this employee benefit. Alternatively, you can set up your own gym at home equipped with basic gym necessities like a pair of dumbbells with various weight plates, barbells, and a bench press. You can check out various gym equipment sold online. It is not expensive at all if you’re using it for a long time. Plus, there is resale value should you decide to dispose or upgrade your equipment. There are also many apps that can help as your virtual physical trainer.
Are you an office worker or working from home? Get up every hour from sitting!
Sitting too long can increase your risk of getting high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Every hour you should take a break to move away from your desk. Go make a cup of coffee, use the washroom, or do some stretching. By keeping the blood flowing, you can save a lot in term of medical costs (this is real savings) for treating chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.
As a writer, I spend a lot of time sitting. Before I start writing, I set a timer for 45 minutes. Once the timer goes off I pick up my two dumbbells placed near the table and do five minutes of exercise. I also make it a habit to do ten push-ups at the bottom and top of the staircase when going up the staircase.
4. Sleep: Your Body and Brain Needs Rest
For many people, having a good night’s sleep is a luxury. Insomniacs tend to look tired all the time. At certain times they look sluggish when carrying out their duties. They may even necessarily take prescription pills to help them catch a few hours of sleep.
The lack of sleep has serious consequences. “Sleep deprivation prevents your immune system from building up its forces. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body may not be able to fend off invaders. … Long-term sleep deprivation also increases your risk for chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.” (Healthline.com)
A good example of a celebrity who now advocates sleeping is Arianna Huffington, the co-founder of The Huffington Post. She collapsed from exhaustion in 2007 and has been campaigning to educate the public on the importance of sleep. Check out her book “The Sleep Revolution”.
5. Drink More Clean Filtered Water
“If you feel something is not right with your body, then drink a glass of water and everything will be better”
Water is the best drink for hydration. It is cheap and calorie-free. You only need to compare water to soft drinks/instant drinks which cost you money and add extra inches to your waistline. There are plenty of health benefits from drinking water. This includes:-
- Flushes out toxins
- Improves skin complexion
- Helps weight loss
- Increases your energy level
- Boosts immune system
- Saves money!
6. Eat Healthy Home Cooked Meals
Eating outside daily meals is very common for singles, young families, and dual-income families (where both husband and wife are working full-time). In our current “hurried” society, everybody is chasing for time and convenience.
Some regard cooking as time consuming and messy. For convenience, they are willing to pay a premium for outside food. That premium can be quite substantial if added throughout a year. For example, compare how a plate of fried rice costs RM6-7 outside versus the less than RM2 cost when you cook it yourself.
Outside food is also often unhealthy with too much (reused) oil, salt and MSG. It tastes good but the ingredients used may not be healthy. You should also be concerned with the preparation of food such as the hygiene, storage, cleanliness, and handling.
Home cooked meals on the other hand are fresher and healthier as you control what goes into your meal. It doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming with many quick, easy, healthy, and affordable recipes that look and taste awesome! If you’re cooking for only one or two, consider freezing leftovers for the next meal further saving you time and money.
7. Reduce Alcohol Intake
Studies have shown that moderate intake of alcohol is good for the heart.
“According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. This definition refers to the amount consumed on any single day and is not intended as an average over several days.”
Any amount more than that increase the chances of hypertension, liver disease, and cancer. Reducing your alcohol intake, or abstaining completely, can save you a tidy sum of money. For example, if you drink a domestic canned 500ml beer daily, you are set back by RM5,000 a year! Imagine if you go out drinking expensive imported beers often! On the other hand, investing that money saved quickly adds up!
Both physical and financial health are of utmost importance and are often related. Make your fortune and make sure you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. What good physical and financial habits can you start practicing today?
If you have any other good health habit that will also save money, please do share.
After 25 years working under different finance-related roles, and prompted by the MSS offered by his last employer, he is now in consulting. He is also sharing as a financial writer hoping to impart his experience and knowledge in personal finances.
“Financial Literacy is the gateway to Financial Freedom”