13 Surprising Ways to Eat Healthy and Save Money in the Process

Woman with a shopping list for groceries at the market

Grocery bills can certainly add up, and it can be hard to prioritize healthy eating when you’re depending on a tight budget. Yet, eating with health in mind can make a huge difference for your mental and physical health, so it’s important to learn these money-saving hacks to make shopping easier and simpler. Eating on a small budget does not necessarily mean that nutrition must fall behind. Here are thirteen ways to save money, while still nourishing your body from the inside and out.

1. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

“In season and local often means better prices and tastier produce! Plus, you will support small businesses, and the goods are delivered right to your door,” says personal trainer and running coach Susie Lemmer.  CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) support terrific causes and are often loaded with fresh, nutrient-dense and seasonal produce that is easy on the wallet and heavy on the health.

2. Choose Your Market Wisely

Not all markets are equal in prices. “Buy food at lower-priced markets such as Trader Joe’s and Costco,” says certified holistic health coach and personal trainer Jen Bruno with J.B. Fitness and Nutrition.  Plus, don’t be afraid to make a few separate trips. While it might be more time consuming, it can help you save tons of money. For instance, you can buy fruit from one store and meats and seasonings from another.

3. Search for Coupons

You can often find coupons over the web, as well as in grocery stores themselves. Compile coupons in order to save well, suggests Bruno, as those extra dollars here and there can definitely add up. Plus, there are often chances to use coupons for healthy items, such as alternative milks, coconut water, legume chips and whole grains.

4. Make Leftovers … Intentionally

Cooking in bulk can not only save time and meal-prep for the week ahead, but it can also save lots of money through recipe makeovers and bulk purchases in store. “Use a slow cooker and double the recipe for leftovers,” advises Bruno. Slow cookers are great for making larger portions of meals, such as stews, soups and chili. Use throughout the week in different ways for diversity in flavor.

5. Buy in Bulk

Bulk sections at grocery stores, such as Whole Foods Market, offers nuts, dried fruits, legumes and beans, and grains, among other staples, that can save serious cash through avoidance of packaged, processed items. “Buy nuts, beans, and spices from bulk bins to save on costs,” says Bruno. Plus, when in bulk, the foods are often free of any additives and salts, which can be a lot healthier, as well!

6. Stock Up on Items with Late Expiration Dates

“Stock up on cooking oils, nuts, canned beans, and stocks/broths when they’re on sale,” says Bruno, as these pantry staples have a long shelf life and are incredibly versatile and practical for hearty, nutritious meals that work throughout the seasons. While they might take up space in your pantry, the cost will be worth it.

7. Be Cautious with Produce

Not all fruit and vegetables need to be fresh, as many studies show that frozen fruit and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh. If produce is in season, it will often be cheaper and on sale; however, out of season produce is less available and pricier. Plus, it won’t taste as good when not in season! Purchase frozen varieties, as it’ll be easier on a budget and won’t make difference nutritionally.

8. Grow Your Own Garden

Whether you have access to growing a full garden within a wide open space, or have a smaller terrace in a cramped urban apartment, the ability to grow some fresh produce, spices and herbs can help cut down on costs and will increase the nutrition and flavor.

9. Make Your Home a “Restaurant”

“America craves the quality food, typically associated with ‘dining out’ experiences, but without the time and money constraints,” says Mike Starks, CEO of Personal Trainer Food. Set the mood to make eating at home enjoyable, so that you feel less inclined to head out to restaurants during the week. Also, you can look for gourmet meal services that are cost efficient and provide restaurant-quality foods.

10. Add Flavor without Expensive Ingredients

“Add a little extra flavor to your veggies that will excite your taste buds with herbs, oils and spices,” says Starks. This will help you make meals different and exciting due to various flavors and textures, without needing to add expensive oils, additives and sauces that can cost a lot at a grocery store. Different flavors and herbs can transform leftovers, as well, making the meals taste delicious and new.

11. Find Recipes with Similar Ingredients

“Look for recipes that have the same ingredients to avoid being wasteful,” says Starks. If most recipes incorporate the same items, shopping in bulk is easier, and if you run out of a certain ingredient, such as a spice, sauce or protein, you can find a quick and efficient substitute that will match the flavor profile well and not require any additional spending.

12. Plan Meals Ahead

“You can save money by avoiding eating out at restaurants and/or the occasional grab-n-go snacks that tend to add up by the end of the week, and having healthy food prepared will keep you on track to achieve your goals without breaking the bank,” says Kevin Curry, a Reebok Expert and founder of FitMenCook.  By figuring out which meals you will eat during the week, you can save money on additional items that are unnecessary purchases.

13. Learn to Buy in Moderation

Sticking with portion sizes and eating expensive items in moderation is a great way to maintain a budget and save. “Practice moderation and only buy what you’re actually going to eat. It’s easy to get distracted by all the fresh, vibrant produce in the grocery store and you begin to buy more than what you need because you ‘hope’ to eat the food,” says Curry.

No matter your exact budget, it’s best to be mindful of your spending and look for deals at the grocery store whenever possible. Buying in bulk, planning meals and ingredients ahead of time, and scouting out the best options at local stores can save money over time and simplify the grocery store process so that you can feel less stressed about the money and healthier with your meal choices.

Article Source: Isadora Baum for Bustle.com, http://www.bustle.com/articles/168016-13-surprising-ways-to-eat-healthy-save-money-in-the-process


4 Ways You Can Trick Yourself Into Becoming a Better Saver

bigstock-Closeup-of-hundred-dollar-bill-26175143For many people, the biggest hurdle to saving is creating the habit. While many financial advisers often recommend that clients take the work out of the process by having savings automatically deducted from each paycheck, plenty of people still struggle to get started. “We’re not seeing progress on the savings front,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com, which found in a survey that 22 percent of consumers have more debt than emergency savings. “And it’s desperately needed.” Without savings, he adds, some consumers may pile on more debt when emergencies happen.

Some people need a bigger incentive, say the pressure of knowing someone else is counting on you or the chance to win money, to finally kick-start the habit. During America Saves Week, a campaign organized by nonprofit, government and private groups to encourage financial literacy, rounded up some creative ways to boost your savings. Here’s what they came up with…

1. Get your friends involved. If you struggle to have the self-discipline to save on your own, it might help to have some friends hold you accountable. Through so-called lending clubs, a group of people get together to pool their savings, giving the cash post to a different person each week. For example, say 10 people contribute $100 each for a total of $1,000. Over the course of 10 weeks, the cash pot goes to a different person each week until everyone has had a turn. For those early in the cycle, it can be like receiving a short-term loan, said Jonathan Morduch, economics professor at New York University’s Wagner school. For those who receive the cash toward the end of the cycle, it can feel like a forced savings program, he added.

In some cases, the pressure of knowing that other people are counting on you can be more effective than setting aside $100 a week into a savings account, said Morduch, who studied the approach as lead researcher for the U.S. Financial Diaries, a project that followed the weekly cash flow of 235 families for a year. “It’s different from the way we usually think about savings, as slow and steady,” he said. “This is something that works for a lot of folks.”

2. Make it a competition. Savings contests, such as the 52-week savings challenge, can make saving seem more approachable by breaking a larger goal down into small weekly sums. While it’s usually a system that’s talked about at the start of the year, the approach can work for any year-long period. Basically, consumers start small, saving $1 the first week, $2 the second week, and so on all the way to $52 for the last week. At the end of the challenge, the account should have $1,378. Starting the challenge with friends who remind one another to make contributions each week can help some people find the motivation to keep saving, even as the amounts grow.

3. Save your change. You can do this the old-fashioned way, where you throw the singles and coins left in your bag at the end of the day into a jar, McBride said. At the end of the week or month, you can take the cash and deposit it in a savings account, he said. But if you’re like the many people more prone to using plastic than cash these days, you might want to check whether your bank offers a way for you to do this digitally.

First Financial’s Save Your Change Auto Program will help you save for your next vehicle! Make purchases using your First Financial Debit Card and they’ll be rounded to the nearest dollar. The difference between your purchase amount and the nearest dollar (the “change”) is transferred into a designated account the same day the transaction posts to your account. Finally, the “change” that accumulates in your designated account is saved for when you are ready to purchase a vehicle – when every penny counts, we’re here to help you!

4. Have an app do it for you. New smartphone apps are making it easier for people to save by automating the process. One app, Acorns, makes it possible for people to set aside their spare change from everyday purchases. But instead of going into a low-interest savings account, the money is stored in a portfolio that invests in exchange-traded funds. Savers need to pay $1 a month in management fees for accounts smaller than $5,000 and a fee that adds up to 0.25 percent of assets for accounts $5,000 or larger. Another app, Digit, studies users’ cash flow and makes automatic transfers to a savings account two or three times a week. The program, which doesn’t charge fees, analyzes when a person is paid, what bills he has to pay and how he generally spends. Then it moves cash that could be extra, typically ranging from $5 to $50, into a separate account. “You don’t actually feel the money missing,” said Ethan Bloch, chief executive of Digit.

*Original article source courtesy of Jonnelle Marte of The Chicago Tribune.

10 Life Hacks to Help You Free Up Money

Screen-Shot-2015-09-17-at-2.15.00-PMAre you looking for ways you can cut down on expenses and put a little extra money aside? Maybe you’re looking to budget more efficiently, fund that big vacation or save for retirement.

This post is dedicated to little tricks to keep more of your money in your pocket. You can have a little fun with these things, too.

1. Call to Cancel. See How They React.

Savings doesn’t always mean going without. Sometimes when you call to cancel a service (e.g. cable, Internet, satellite radio, etc.), they’re very motivated to retain you as a client. After all, some of your money is better than none at all.

If they’re focused on retention, they may give you a reduced rate for a certain period of time or direct you to a plan that costs less without 37 channels that show 20-year-old movies.

Another good strategy in this situation is to research their competition. Tell them you’re switching to Competitor X who’s offering the same or better level of service for $50 cheaper. Play them against each other. Even if they just offer to match, this works to your advantage. You don’t have to take the equipment back.

2. Cut the Cord.

A lot of people are cutting the cord and canceling cable for good. A couple of technological developments happening right now make this very possible.

For starters, you can now get HDTV out of an antenna to watch your local programming. You can also subscribe to multiple services like Netflix, Hulu and even HBO online to get your television for less than you would pay on a monthly basis for a cable subscription.

However, you might run into a problem with sports. Many games are shown on cable, but all the major professional leagues have their own subscription services now. Just be aware you may have to pick and choose sports to make cutting the cord cost-effective.

3. Reacquaint Yourself with Your Local Library

Take some time to browse your local public library. While it is good to see they still have books at the library, they also have a large selection of CDs and DVDs.

You can also check out e-books! Seriously though, your library may have a lot more education and entertainment options than it used to. It may be worth checking out if you haven’t been there in a while.

4. Lunch at the Grocery Store.

Check out your grocery store’s sample selection – it’s worth your while. A motivated person has many choices, often including dessert, from various sample lines. Why do you think everyone is queued up when you go in there on a particularly busy Saturday? They’ve discovered a secret.

“Of course I’ll try the chicken cordon bleu…Why yes! I think I’ll have a butterscotch cookie.”

It’s important to note that the portions are small. You can definitely make this work for lunch, but not dinner.

5. Pay Attention to Those Receipts.

After you’ve done your shopping (and maybe gotten a midday meal in the bargain), it’s time to head to the cash register. However, it’s important to remember the savings doesn’t always stop when you check out.

Many stores add coupons to the backs of receipts now. It’s their way of keeping you coming back for more, but it also saves you money to use those coupons.

6. Get That Deposit Back.

Many states charge a small deposit on the purchase of all bottles and cans. You get that deposit back when you bring them back to the store and feed the machine.

You won’t be able to retire early on the amount you get back, but it will give you some spare change for the drive-through.

7. Save Those Ketchup Packets.

Save those extra ketchup packets from fast-food restaurants. If they give you four sauce packets and you only use two, stick the others in a drawer. They could come in handy when you run out. You’ll also be well-stocked when the zombie apocalypse causes a worldwide shortage of whatever that stuff is they use for onion ring sauce.

8. Rewards Programs.

Many businesses have rewards programs for their customers. You can shop around to see who gives you the best deal. There are programs for things like credit cards, airline miles and grocery stores. Although these are the more traditional ones, you can find rewards programs for all sorts of things like movie theaters, pharmacies, etc.

9. Attend Matinee Movies.

There’s not many things you want to roll out of bed before 9 a.m. on a Saturday for, but it might be worth it for a matinee movie. Different theaters will have different times, but if you go to one of the early showings, you can often get a ticket for $5 or $6.

It can be super cheap entertainment if you manage to run through without succumbing to the smell of the popcorn stand. But there is one trick that could save you a couple bucks: If you and your friend are going to drink the same beverage, don’t go with two smalls. It’s often cheaper to get a large drink and two straws. Just make sure you know whose is whose. Plus, the same matinee strategy will work if you go to the theater for a play as well.

10. Gift Card Sites.

There are sites online where you could sell such unwanted gift cards to someone else at a slight discount to benefit you both. Convert a gift card you’re not going to use into cash and get a great deal on something you would use!

*Original article source courtesy of Kevin Graham of ZING!