Health is a physical and fiscal responsibility. It becomes especially acute when you find yourself — willingly or not — having to eat and stay fit on a budget.
Sara Rathner and Larry Sprung made their reputations in the money arena. She has been a NerdWallet credit card and travel expert. He founded and is president of Mitlin Financial. At the behest of global information services company Experian, they weighed in on how health can affect finances and vice versa.
“Health and wealth are intertwined,” Rathner said. “Unexpected medical bills can drain savings. Illness or injury can affect your ability to work. The best financial advice I got from a certified financial planner was, ‘Don’t skip leg day.’ Mobility and strength can help your financial prospects.
“Health and wealth are intertwined. Unexpected medical bills can drain savings. Illness or injury can affect your ability to work. The best financial advice I got from a certified financial planner was, ‘Don’t skip leg day.’ Mobility and strength can help your financial prospects.”
— Sara Rathner
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“I treated myself to a set of Powerblock adjustable dumbbells and made a space for home workouts in my basement,” she said. “I miss group fitness classes, but home workouts can be fun, too.”
Stress over money can spill over into other areas of life, according to Experian. Worrying about finances can lead to mental and physical problems. A Forbes article by Brett Whysel looks at how to deal with financial stress.
“Stress from finances can affect your mental health,” Sprung said. “Many people find stress causes them to overeat.
“I hope others were able to use their stay-at-home time to get fit,” he said. “Working from home allowed me to hit a 60-day Peloton streak for the first time.”
He rides with wireless headphones and often selects his rides based on the instructor’s playlist.
There is an art to eating healthy on a budget and maintaining a busy schedule.
“Meal prep and cook at home,” Rathner said. “If you stock your fridge, freezer and pantry with items that make it easy to whip up a meal, you’re way less likely to revert to takeout. Cook enough to have leftovers for at least one additional meal.
“I also make myself sandwiches,” she said. “Once a week I caramelize a batch of onions. They really elevate the flavor of a homemade sandwich.”
Rathner included instructions so others can whip up a batch of caramelized onions.
“Just like with finances, planning is key,” Sprung said. “Shop for healthy food items, divide up the food and bring healthy options to work and when on the go.”
“Just like with finances, planning is key. Shop for healthy food items, divide up the food and bring healthy options to work and when on the go.” — Larry Sprung
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“Check the per-unit price when comparing two brands,” Rathner said. “One item might seem cheaper, but it’s in a smaller container. So, it ultimately costs more.”
“It is best to buy whole fruits and vegetables and cut them up at home,” Sprung said. “It is also cheaper to buy bags of snacks and divide them up instead of eating from the bags.”
Apps for Shopping Online and Off
To help save money on groceries, there’s an app for that.
“Rakuten is popular for online shopping, but it also offers in-store cash back,” Rathner said. “Participating stores rotate. Sometimes grocery stores or wholesalers are on the list. You can search by ZIP code to see stores in your area.”
“I have found it best to put the supermarket’s app on my phone,” Sprung said. “My local store has virtual coupons you can clip and add to your store card.”
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“You can freeze more than you think,” Rathner said. “My freezer contains bags of chopped onions, coconut milk — I only needed half a can and froze the rest — and even a steak rub.
“Lots of recipes leave leftover ingredients,” she said. “Freeze them instead of throwing them away.”
“My wife often takes one protein that makes two meals, like turning one night’s steak dinner into stir-fry the next night,” Sprung said. “I often take ‘leftovers’ for lunch at work. This has saved me a lot of money.”
Think Outside the Litter Box
Free exercise resources include workout plans and videos.
“I’m a huge Fitness Blender fan,” Rathner said. “Their free videos will leave you lying in a puddle of your own sweat in 30 minutes or less for free. Before I bought weights, I used bottles of laundry detergent for strength training — a 100-load bottle equals 9.7 pounds.
“I used to have an extremely patient 20-pound cat that let me use him for bicep curls and squats,” she said. “Think outside the box.”
“My teen boys have shown me great resources on YouTube, “ Sprung said. “Yes, I am the dad of two — two — teen boys. That means a lot of food is consumed in our home on any given day.”
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Free outdoor activities are simple and effective for staying in shape.
“Go for a walk,” Rathner said. “It’s easier on the joints than running, and you don’t need special equipment or clothing. When I travel, I walk up to 15 miles a day — at home, not so much, sadly.”
Sprung’s local school district allows residence use of athletic fields where he and his boys play tennis.
Intense Even for Neighbors
Even for those with no equipment or space there are creative and inexpensive home workout hacks.
“You can do a high-intensity interval training workout in an area-rug-sized space with just body weight,” Rathner said. “Just watch out if you have neighbors below you. All that jumping is noisy. Cut out the jumps if that’s a concern.”
Having room to stretch out is a start.
“The dreaded plank works really well, as do push-ups and sit-ups,” Sprung said.
Inexpensive workout clothes will suffice without sacrificing comfort and style.
“Old Navy’s fitness apparel is cute and often on sale,” Rathner said. “I love their compression leggings — not see-through — for working out. I’ve also flown in them because compression helps circulation during long flights.”
Sprung is about comfort rather than style, preferring to work out in a simple pair of athletic shorts and old T-shirts from college.
“With food and fitness, go back to basics,” Rathner said. “Simple recipes make cooking easy on busy weeknights.
“As for working out, gym-class staples such push-ups and jumping jacks are as good for you now as they were in school,” she said.
Sprung has found that just like with finances, planning is the best tip to stay physically fit.
“Find an exercise you enjoy and will continue to use,” he said. “For me, my Peloton is worth every penny because I have stuck with it.”
About The Author
This article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be considered financial advice. You should consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.