How To Cut the Cost of Expensive Health-Conscious Resolutions
This is proving so far to be a difficult year, as the pandemic rages on and Covid case numbers skyrocket. Amid all the crises and chaos — which for many includes financial instability — the last thing any of us needs to deal with is shelling out money for, of all things, our New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, so many popular NYE promises — such as vowing to get physically healthy — can come with hidden price tags.
But changing your life for the better shouldn’t cost much, if anything at all. However tempting it is to throw money on a new gym membership or a slew of meditation apps, it’s smarter to consider alternative ways to reboot your health — both physical and mental.
Here’s a look at some common health-focused resolutions that can get pretty pricey pretty fast, along with expert insight on how to achieve the same goal for less — or even for free.
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Join a Gym
“Going to the gym, losing a few pounds, or getting more in shape is the most trendy and most popular,” said Andrew Lokenauth, a personal finance educator and advisor. “On a monthly basis, a basic gym can run as little as $10 a month/$120 a year or as much as over $200 a month/$2,500 a year. You can save money and cut expenses by exercising at home instead of paying a gym membership.”
Lokenauth added that despite the high cost of gym memberships, most people don’t go frequently enough to justify the expense. For many, it makes more sense to take advantage of free apps and websites that provide ideas and plans for home workouts such as cardio, HIIT, calisthenics or light weights.
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“Apps are one of the most common ways to go (for meditation), but they can be pricey investments if you want access to all the features,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com. “Headspace and Calm are two of the most popular apps, with Headspace costing $12.99 per month or $69.99 per year. Calm is also $69.99 per year, but you can purchase a lifetime membership for $399.99.
“A cheaper alternative is the app Buddhify, which is only $30 per year and focuses on guided meditations designed for individuals on the go.”
Bear in mind that all of these apps have free versions, too — you just get more features with the paid versions, and you can get free trials for the paid versions as well.
“Often those looking to make health-based resolutions do so around eating better, but going from buying convenience foods to healthier options can make a significant change in your grocery budget,” Ramhold said. “However, you’ll save on things like fresh produce by shopping at the right places — so head to standard grocery stores over fancy markets, for instance.
“Shop at a farmer’s market if you’re lucky enough to have access to one, and of course be sure to shop for only what you need. Don’t buy a ton of produce just because it’s at a good price if there’s a chance you’ll end up having to toss some of it out because it’s gone off.”
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Join a Meal-Kit Delivery Service
“In your pursuit of improving your eating habits and eating healthy meals, signing up for a subscription box that delivers these foods to your doorstep is an easy way to succeed, but it can also drain your bank account and keep you from reaching other financial goals you’re working on at the same time,” said budgeting expert Andrea Woroch. “For example, Daily Harvest promises healthy meals delivered to your doorstep, starting at $5.99 per item — not per meal, but per item! That can add up quickly.”
Considering the healthy menu choices posted on sites such as Daily Harvest are made up of basic fruit and vegetables that just about anyone can find at their local stores, Woroch pointed out that you can make these meals yourself for much less.
“Since figuring out what to cook is often the thing most people dread when it comes to preparing a meal,” Woroch said, “sign up for a subscription to a meal-planning service like eMeals.com, where you can customize your plan by choosing your preferred foods or diet such as low carb, clean eating or keto.
“Then you’ll get weekly meal plans that include your grocery shopping list and recipes delivered to your inbox to help you reach your resolution for less. It costs just $4.99 per month when you sign up for a year after the initial two-week free trial.”
Get a New Job
Kristen J. Zavo, a career coach and author of “Job Joy: Your Guide to Success, Meaning & Happiness in Your Career,” noted that landing a new gig is a popular health-related resolution. This can be surprisingly costly.
“Job seekers may invest in online networking platforms (e.g., premium LinkedIn or an industry job board), industry associations, continuing education, resume rewrites and/or choose to work with an executive coach to find clarity, fast-track their job search and build leadership skills,” Zavo said. “The investment for these services can range from hundreds to thousands.”
To dodge or at least lower costs, Zavo recommends that, when it comes to networking platforms and continuing education, job seekers utilize all of the free features first. That includes taking advantage of free trials, which can range from a week to 30 days or more.
“In lieu of (or before) investing in executive coaching and career support, find mentors who have not only accomplished similar goals themselves but helped many others do the same,” Zavo said. “Follow them on social media, consume their free content, get on their email list, read their book. From there, one can decide if it makes sense to invest in more personalized and comprehensive support.”
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