Every year, we resolve to improve our habits to make ourselves a little healthier–mentally, emotionally, and physically. However, these habits often have a positive impact on our financial lives, too. For example, it comes as no surprise that financial and weight loss goals have so much in common. They require dedication, some sort of “cutting back,” and can feel insurmountable unless they are broken down into small, achievable milestones. And that’s true of just about any health-related goal. But not only are they similar, they actually work in tandem to improve your quality of life. Here are five healthy habits that can also improve your finances.
Getting in Shape
Whether it’s a better diet or more frequent exercise, getting in shape can save you money in many ways. For one, contrary to popular belief, eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive.
“Fresh, whole foods can be more expensive than processed foods, but a diet rich with healthy foods can reduce the likelihood of costly diseases associated with poor nutrition,” says Kendal Perez, Savings Expert at CouponSherpa.com. “The USDA found that families can afford the suggested servings of fruits and veggies if they reduce their spending on high-protein, processed and sugary foods which currently take up too much of their food budget.”
Eating healthy also typically means avoiding restaurants and fast food, both of which can quickly add up and drain your wallet.
Beyond that, staying in shape has a positive long-term effect on your finances, too.
“Despite the popularity of high-priced fitness outlets like SoulCycle, getting regular exercise doesn’t have to be costly,” Perez says. “In fact, a total body workout can be absolutely free when you walk, run and do strength exercises using your own body weight. Regular exercise contributes to better mental and physical health and reduces the likelihood of heart disease, diabetes and other costly ailments.”
“A lot of people would say that they’re not getting enough sleep, but they just don’t prioritize it,” says Kyle Boureston, Founder at Mantelligence. “Not only does sleep affect your day-to-day happiness and productivity, but it also improves your decision-making.”
It’s true that we only have a limited supply of willpower. Kathleen Vohs, associate professor of marketing at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, told the New York Times:
“There is research that shows people still have the same self-control as in decades past, but we are bombarded more and more with temptations. Our psychological system is not set up to deal with all the potential immediate gratification.”
In other words, it’s hard enough as it is to make solid financial decisions; toss in the impairment of sleep deprivation, and it’s even harder to make sound decisions. Which is why, Boureston says, it’s important to get an adequate amount of sleep (the Sleep Foundation recommends between 7 and 9 hours every night). Rest is good for your body, but it’s also good for decision-making.
“You’ll make wiser, more thought-out decisions about work, family, and money when you set a bedtime and prioritize it,” Boureston says.
Drinking More Water
Most of us could probably stand to drink a little more water and a little less of everything else.
“Bottled water from the airport notwithstanding, water is the cheapest beverage you can drink and also the healthiest,” Perez says.
Indeed, sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages aren’t just unhealthy, they’re expensive, too.
“Instead of ordering soda or an alcoholic beverage from a restaurant, save $2.50 to $15 and order water instead. Adequate water intake helps with everything from digestion to circulation to body temperature maintenance. What’s more, water can help with weight maintenance since it leads to feelings of fullness.”
It’s one simple, healthy lifestyle change that can have a surprisingly noticeable impact on your budget.
Learning New Skills
Learning new skills can be financially beneficial, too. For example, when you keep up with the skills in your industry, you have a better chance of moving forward in your career, whether it’s a new job or a promotion.
Even adopting skills outside of your industry can earn you some extra cash. Platforms like Fiverr.com or Upwork.com connect freelance writers, designers, and other creatives with clients who are willing to pay. Whether it’s a side hobby or just honing the abilities you already have, it’s possible to monetize your skills. Even if you don’t make a fortune, you still enjoy yourself in the process.
If your resolution is to be a little more grateful for the things you already have, that gratitude can be good for your budget, too.
“Gratitude has several health benefits including reduced stress and a boosted immune system,” says Perez. “Being grateful can also help reduce spending by shifting the focus away from what you don’t have and onto what you already own or possess.”
Practicing gratitude can be as simple as keeping a journal and writing down a few things you’re grateful for every day. A healthy mindset shift might not seem to have a direct financial benefit, but personal finance has a great deal to do with mindset. Sometimes a simple shift can have a huge, long-term impact.