13 Simple Ways Healthy Living Can Save You Money (Plus 2 Surprising Ones)

Healthy living doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it could save you money. Find out how.

13 Simple Ways Healthy Living Can Save You Money (Plus 2 Surprising Ones)
Updated May 28, 2024
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Healthy living typically offers many benefits, including potential improvements to your physical and mental well-being. But did you know a healthy lifestyle could also help improve your financial situation?

Being healthier is often associated with spending more money, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Here are 15 ways healthy living could help improve your overall wellness while helping you ease money anxiety at the same time.

More affordable life insurance

Paying for insurance often comes with hefty fees and premiums. But insurance is important to have, so is there anything left to do other than eat the cost?

When it comes to life insurance, you typically have a unique opportunity to directly impact how much you pay on your premiums based on how healthy you are. Many life insurance companies require you to take a medical exam before determining whether to offer you a policy and how much that policy will cost.

If you live a healthy lifestyle, you might qualify for lower life insurance rates. This could be true whether you’re a new or existing customer looking to get their rate changed.

To explore your options, check out our list of the best life insurance companies.

Less expensive medical bills

It might not seem like healthy living coincides with creating and sticking to a budgeting plan. This is because certain purchases, such as exercise equipment, can get expensive. But what about your long-term financial goals?

According to The George Washington University, the cost of obesity in U.S. adults can range from $147 billion to more than $200 billion per year. Most of these costs are associated with treating diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

If you want to help reduce your chances of expensive medical bills, it makes sense to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You’re more likely to avoid diseases and costly medical conditions. And, yes, in the long run, an expensive Peloton or similar piece of equipment could be worth the cost if it can help you avoid medical treatments.

If you’re looking to save money, then you should know that Chase Sapphire cardmembers can receive special Peloton benefits through Dec. 31, 2021. The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers up to $60 back and the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers up to $120 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access membership. 

To learn more about these benefits, check out our Chase Sapphire Preferred review and Chase Sapphire Reserve review.

Economical grocery trips

An important part of learning how to manage your money is watching what you buy when you visit the grocery store. Junk food and frozen dishes might make for easy and sometimes cheap meals, but they’re not necessarily helping your overall health. Fresh fruits and vegetables could sometimes be less expensive and are definitely much healthier.

Think about the cost of a big bag of chips compared to a bunch of bananas. Then think about the difference between how they affect your health, and even how you feel after eating them. Sticking to more nutritious options could help you save money over time and also improve your health and well-being.

To help increase your money-saving efforts on groceries, consider using credit cards that earn valuable rewards on grocery purchases. For more details, check out our list of the best credit cards for groceries.

More water means more spare cash

Water has loads of health benefits and barely any drawbacks, unless the water is contaminated or has a low quality level. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on water and healthier drinks, water can help regulate your body temperature, get rid of wastes, prevent dehydration, protect your spinal cord, and lubricate joints.

Water’s financial benefit, though, is that it’s virtually free for many people. If you frequently spend money on any other drinks, which are typically less healthy than water, you’re paying for things your body doesn’t necessarily need. This could include soda, coffee, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages, and more.

Cutting out the majority of non-water drinks can lead to healthier living, as well as more cash in your pocket. Even if you’re living somewhere where you’re more comfortable buying bottled water, it’s likely less expensive than other beverages.

Fewer doctor visits

Going to the doctor isn’t a bad thing. It makes sense to get regular checkups and spend money on certain preventative measures. And once in a while, you might have reason to make an unplanned visit, whether you notice something different with your body or you have some sort of ailment or injury.

But unhealthy living can lead to an increased number of doctor visits. Many health insurance plans charge a fee for each doctor visit and that fee could increase if you visit specialists. If you also need testing, lab work, or procedures done, and that could mean additional visits and expenses. So simply living a healthier lifestyle could save you money by eliminating trips to the doctor.

Better mental health means less spending

Simply put, there are sneaky ways money can affect mental health. Worries over money can increase your stress and anxiety levels, which affects your mental well-being. But let’s also think about this in a different way. Can your mental health affect how you use money?

According to information on diet and mental health from the Mental Health Foundation, a U.K.-based charitable organization, there’s a strong link between what we eat and how we feel. For example, a vegetable-rich diet can reduce the symptoms of depression.

So it might be surprising how this is related to money, but basically the idea is that if you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, you might not be motivated to control your spending or stay on course with your budgeting plan.

Fortunately, healthy living, including healthy eating, can improve both your physical and mental health, which can lead to more control over your finances.

Fewer trips to the gas station

Depending on your situation, using your car less often may not be a feasible option. But in certain scenarios, you might be able to transition to walking or using a bike for your work commute.

This type of green decision would likely help limit your trips to the gas station, which your wallet would thank you for. But you’d also reap the benefits of frequent exercise, which is helpful for your physical and mental well-being.

For the fuel spending you might still do, consider using a credit card that rewards you for gas purchases. For more details, check out our list of the best credit cards for gas.

Exercise can be an inexpensive hobby

If you forget about the expensive equipment, supplements, and clothing — exercise can be a fairly inexpensive hobby. A few weights, maybe a yoga mat, and a resistance band can help you stay fit and active from home, and they don’t cost much.

If you want to help increase your health benefits from working out, consider exercising outdoors. Fresh air and sunshine are known to help you feel better and happier.

In addition, adopting this type of activity as a hobby means you can avoid other pastimes that are also potentially expensive and offer little in the way of health benefits. This might include playing video games, watching TV, browsing social media, or anything similar you could swap for exercise.

Dieting reduces food costs

“Diet” and “dieting” are words that carry something of a negative connotation because they typically indicate someone isn’t doing what they naturally want to do when it comes to food. This could mean they’re eating less, only eating certain types of foods, or both.

But dieting can offer multiple benefits, which could include improving your health and saving you money if you’re eating less, going to restaurants less frequently, and spending less money on food in general as a result.

Fewer sick days

If you follow the generally accepted guidelines of healthy living, such as exercising regularly and eating healthy foods, you’re likely going to take fewer sick days from work.

Of course, this isn’t a guarantee, as many different factors affect how and when people get sick, but it makes sense that a healthy person would be sick less often overall than someone who might be considered unhealthy.

And if you’re missing less work, you’re potentially making more money right now, but you’re also reducing the time you have to make headway toward your career goals. This can be a subtle and surprising way that healthy living can have a long-term impact on your lifetime earnings.

Less fast food helps control your spending

According to fast food data from Statista, a research firm, the total consumer spending on fast food in the U.S. in 2020 was over $272 billion. If you divide that by the U.S. population of about 332 million, that’s about $819 spent on fast food in 2020 per person in the U.S.

It’s not a terribly high amount of money, but it’s still sizable. And this calculation is accounting for every single person in the U.S., including children, who likely aren’t buying fast food. So if you calculated by U.S. adults alone, the amount of money spent per person would be higher.

If you cut fast food from your diet and spending patterns, how much improvement would you see with both your physical and financial health? You’d likely feel a lot better if you transitioned to a healthier lifestyle, but you could also be saving loads of money per year.

Skip the gym and its fees

We’ve discussed how exercise can replace other hobbies that might be more expensive and how exercising doesn’t have to be expensive itself. Another way to cut down on costs while working on maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to skip the gym membership and its fees.

Every situation is different, but there’s often enough room inside a home to get different exercises in. If you feel like your space is too small, head outdoors. Gym memberships often run from $10, $20, or even $50 per month, which is between $120 and $600 per year. Skipping this cost could help you start a healthy savings habit without sacrificing your physical well-being.

Kicking the habit pads your wallet

Do you have any vices you’ve had trouble shaking? This could include almost anything, though a common vice for many is smoking cigarettes. According to overall tobacco trends from the American Lung Association, the average number of cigarettes smoked per day continues to drop, with less than 15 cigarettes per day becoming the highest percentage.

But even if you only smoke 10 cigarettes per day, nixing this habit would result in a savings of $1,146 after a year and $45,836 after 20 years, not to mention the potential savings on doctor visits and medical treatments.

To calculate your potential savings from not having to buy cigarettes, use the savings calculator from SmokeFree.gov, a website run by the National Cancer Institute.

Read a book instead of watching TV

Exercise can be an alternative activity to watching TV, but so could reading a book. It’s generally accepted that reading is more mentally active, whereas watching a show or movie is more passive. Basically, you think more when reading a good book and your brain is more alert compared with watching TV.

In addition, it’s not uncommon to pay a lot for cable or streaming services. According to a FinanceBuzz streaming survey, 1 in 4 U.S. adults spend more than $75 per month on streaming subscriptions. If you’re savvy about how you read, you don’t need to spend nearly as much as that. Books from your local library are free and Kindle deals are frequent and ongoing, often at prices of $1.99 or less for e-books.

Fewer outfit changes

If you’ve tried adopting a healthier lifestyle at different times in the past, you could have a history of your weight fluctuating. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of weight fluctuation can be having to buy different sizes of clothing because some of your apparel might not fit anymore.

However, if you’re able to focus on healthy living and keeping your weight within a consistent and comfortable range, you could save money on having to purchase more clothes because of size changes.

Bottom line

Healthy living isn’t always a solution for saving money, but it can be in many situations. You might be able to save money simply by adopting a new healthy habit or two, such as replacing soda with water. Or another strategy could work for you, whether it’s exercising more or skipping the fast food visits.

Just keep in mind that you don’t have to spend more money to lead a healthy lifestyle. If you want to work on improving your physical, mental, and financial well-being all at once, it’s entirely possible.

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Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.