How to Live a Full and Healthy Life on a Budget
Can you live a healthy life on a budget? This is a question I get asked a lot. The answer is yes. Yes, you can absolutely eat healthy, exercise, and live a full life all while living within your means. I moved to NYC six years ago with a salary of $35,000 and no paid-time-off. I eventually received tiny pay raises, but still lived under a strict budget. I lived in Astoria, Queens with two roommates, paid $850 a month for rent and commuted into midtown every day for work. With that said, I ate super clean, practiced yoga regularly, traveled, AND managed to save $10,000 in under two years.
While my income and lifestyle has drastically changed from six years ago, I still believe in living within your means. If you're on top of your finances, set boundaries, and practice self control then you can do it.
So, how, how, how do you do it? I'll tell you how.
Cook more, and eat out less.
This is the #1 reason I saved as much as I did that first year. I lived about a 12 minute walk from the subway, so getting to and from places wasn't the most convenient. I took advantage of my big kitchen (perks of living further out) and cooked up all kinds of yummy meals! I would bring overnight oats to work for breakfast, packed a salad for lunch, and cooked at home for dinner. This allowed me to have more money for when I did want to go out to dinner with friends! For a little dinner inspo, check out my go-to dinner recipe.
Pro Tip: There are many ways to cut costs, but don't skimp when buying animal products. Make sure it’s organic, hormone & antibiotic-free. Shop local if you can. You don’t want endocrine disrupting additives in your food so, to me, it’s worth the extra cost to invest in your longterm health.
Do most of your shopping in the produce & bulk section.
Grocery bills begin to rack up when you're buying bags of chips, containers of ice cream, jars of tomato sauce, nut butters, etc. My advice is to make as much as you can yourself. So, buy some tomatoes and make our own spaghetti sauce. Utilize the nut grinder at places like Whole Foods and make your own nut butter. Better yet, buy your own nuts and grind it yourself at home. It's better for the environment, healthier for you, and it ends up being a lot cheaper.
Take advantage of free online workouts + community classes.
Almost every yoga studio offers a donation-based community class, so check out one of those! If the timing doesn't work out, there are dozens of online resources for free yoga or workouts online. I recommend Yoga with Adriene on YouTube or DoYogaWithMe.com. If you are open to paying monthly, I love Kait Hurley's Movement + Meditation classes.
Surround yourself with friends who live a similar lifestyle.
We all have those friends who somehow convince us to spend WAY more than we should on a night out. Luckily, I lived with roommates who equally enjoyed cooking, hosting game nights at our place, doing our own nails, and watching movies together in our living room. There wasn't a pressure to spend a lot, because we all had a budget to adhere to.
Track your finances with a budgeting app.
I use Clarity to track my spending but there are so many out there, so choose one that resonates most with you. It should tell you how much you spend on food, entertainment, bills, and monthly subscription services (which can really add up fast) at any point in time. Set boundaries. Stick to them.
But, that blogger told me I need all of the fancy potions, powders, and supplements...
There will always be new and innovative products to try in the wellness world. My best advice to you is to listen to your body. Do you NEED collagen peptides in your coffee everyday? Well, that's up to you. Hopefully, if you're able to work in the money-saving tips above then you'll have more dollars to spend on quality products that enhance your lifestyle.
Pro Tip: If you're going to buy supplements, superfood powders, matcha, and more... don't skimp on the quality. You always want to get the highest, purest quality, so you get the full nutritional benefits with no yucky additives or artificial ingredients. Otherwise, don't even buy it. If you're a matcha drinker, here's a video of how I make it at home. It saves me lotsa $$$.
Living a full and healthy life doesn’t mean you have to rake out the big bucks, you just have to choose what’s important to you, track your spending, and listen to your body. I can't stress that enough.
You've got this!