Living healthy isn’t always cheap.
Everything from gym memberships or personal trainers to buying organic produce comes at a cost. When you’re living on a fixed income as you plan for retirement, you don’t want to be spending a lot of money on what could be considered luxuries.
If you’re not maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you might be limiting your enjoyment of those all-important years after the daily grind is behind you — so how can you find balance?
These tips will help you and your family live a healthy lifestyle while still saving as much as possible for your retirement years.
Elements of Healthy Living
Your metabolism begins to slow down in your mid-30s to mid-40s, making it extremely important to begin watching your food intake at a young age. A slowing metabolism can make it more difficult to lose weight and keep it off, but your body also craves good, quality nutrition so you can feel your best at any age.
Doctors recommend that you implement an exercise routine where you are getting in at least 30 minutes of moderately strenuous activity 3-4 times each week.
This will help keep your joints moving and allow you to hone your strength and flexibility, too. Your diet also needs your attention as you’re entering the second half of your life. Look at ways to cut fats by steaming veggies instead of frying them or changing from starchy to leafy vegetables.
The benefits of healthy living will continue to pay off for years to come, but how can you stick to these principles without breaking the bank?
1. Don’t Skip Your Annual Checkups
The majority of medical insurance plans support an annual checkup at little to no cost. This “healthy visit” to your doctor is your opportunity to stop small problems from becoming expensive health disasters over time.
Don’t be afraid to overshare with your doctor, as many health problems can be resolved much faster and cheaper when you catch them early.
Many health-related issues such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol can be easily controlled with diet, exercise and medication. When you ignore the symptoms of these problems and don’t share them with your physician, they will become much more dangerous to your health over time.
Keep a personal record of your key health statistics such as blood pressure, waist-to-height ratio, cholesterol levels and your A1C (blood sugar) levels. That way, you’ll be able to bring any abnormalities to your physician’s attention at your annual visits.
2. Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Smoking and excessive drinking are two things that can seriously limit the enjoyment of the latter years of your life. Heavy drinking can cause a range of diseases and problems including high blood pressure, liver disease, diabetes and may also interfere with certain medications or limit their effectiveness.
Smoking is not only a habit that can negatively impact your health, but it’s also expensive! The money that you’re spending on the short-term “enjoyment” that you gain from smoking will give you more long-term benefit if you put it directly in your 401(k) or IRA account.
Over time, smoking leads to a higher instance of lung cancer and heart disease — two health challenges that can seriously limit what you can do after your official retirement.
3. Check Labels Carefully
When you’re buying healthy foods, it’s all-too-easy to be seduced into grabbing a healthy name brand item.
However, there are many alternatives to mainstream products — and the majority of them are every bit as good or better than the originals!
Look for discount grocery stores or superstores such as Sam’s or Costco where you can buy certain items in bulk. These warehouses are fantastic places to stock up on expensive vitamins, health and beauty products, healthy veggies and lean meat.
Be careful to check the per-ounce or per-item cost when you’re comparing two products. Packaging size can vary dramatically between manufacturers and lead you to think you’re getting a better deal than you really are.
4. Look for Group Activities
Hiring a personal trainer at the gym may be cost-prohibitive over time, but what about going together with a group for training?
Working out together is fun and will help keep you motivated, plus you’re sharing the cost of training over several individuals or families. You’ll get the same great instruction and even have each other for backup should you forget how to work a specific machine at the gym.
Group activities such as swimming, yoga, pilates and walking are also great ways to stay in shape without costing a fortune. In many cases, you don’t even need an expensive gym membership in order to take advantage of classes in a local community center or senior center.
As we near retirement age, there is a natural inclination to slow down just a bit — fight that feeling!
Think about ways that you can give back to the community to stay active. Volunteering at a local hospital or community center is a great way to help others, get a few extra steps in on a weekly basis and also keep your mind sharp without spending a dime.
Plus, you’ll get an extra boost of endorphins from the feel-good excitement of helping others who need your assistance. Besides, isn’t that better than hanging out in front of the television binge-watching Netflix?!?
Healthy aging doesn’t have to be expensive, requiring you to buy expensive gym memberships, purchase high-end organic produce (at least, not always!) and visiting remote day spas.
You can get many of the same benefits simply by moving your body, getting your vitamins in and stopping a few bad habits such as excessive drinking and smoking.
I hope these tips help give you a little extra push to live a healthier lifestyle.