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7 healthy habits (that save you money too)

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February 21st, 2012

Expenses like gym memberships, pricey athletic gear, and costly organic produce can add up. But staying in good health and top shape doesn t have to break the bank. In fact, the seven healthy habits below can actually save you money. 1. Host potlucks with friends. Instead of meeting at a restaurant once a week, Caroline Cederquist, M.D., (drcederquist.com) recommends taking turns with friends hosting potluck meals. Restaurants don t make money by making food that is good for you, Cederquist says. So it tends to be high in sugar and carbs. You ll save hundreds of dollars and calories eating at home. 2. Eat less. So simple, yet so difficult to do. Cederquist, who specializes in weight management, advises her patients to eat smaller portions of high-quality foods. Swap pricey processed foods like frozen meals for vegetables and lean protein. If you re no longer cooking for a large family, buy frozen vegetables so you can use as needed. Cederquist says frozen veggies are often just as nutritious as fresh ones. Save on chicken, beef and fish by buying in bulk at club stores like Costco. 3. Skip the meat. If you go vegetarian once or twice a week, frugal living blogger Anna Platz (goodcentssavings.com) says savings can add up fast. Meat is the most expensive ingredient in most recipes, so by eating less of it, you ll save money and reap health benefits like lower cholesterol. Platz recommends meatless meals like roasted vegetable soup and bean and rice burritos. 4. Buy in season. Another way to trim your food bills, Platz says, is to purchase produce at its peak. If you stick with what is in season, it hasn t traveled as far to get to you, Platz says. So, if you eat berries and tomatoes in the summer, when they are most delicious, they are also going to be the cheapest. 5. Nix your vices. We all know smoking is detrimental to our health, and you can save thousands if you kick the habit. But, Cederquist says to watch your alcohol intake as well. Not only does liquor pad your grocery or restaurant bill, but you ll also pack on the pounds if you overindulge. 6. Choose your friends wisely. If you re always spending time with people who want to go shopping, eat at expensive restaurants, or get high-calorie coffee drinks, that will become your norm, Platz says. Instead, make plans with more active friends to take a walk or play golf or tennis. You ll save money and burn calories. 7. Don t lose your mind. Your mental well-being is just as important as your physical health when it comes to enjoying retirement. Executive wellness coach Margaret Moore (coachmeg.com) says there are plenty of ways to stimulate your mind for free. Join a book club or read an article that challenges your political opinions, Moore suggests. Or, engage your grandchildren in a lively debate about current affairs. Moore says even simple exercises like that can go a long way in keeping your brain sharp, which will pay in spades down the line when you require fewer medications and less medical care. It s an investment with a big return, she says. meghan.streit@erickson.com

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