Getting fit is a reward unto itself, but there are things you can do to save cash while you trim your waistline.
If you're spending money on a gym, explore your local area for free or less expensive ways to work out. City-run rec centers may offer lower priced facilities, or you could come up with your own free routine. Run outside, do pull-ups at a neighborhood jungle gym, or do bench dips using a stable chair at home. Be creative and have fun re-creating your gym workout outside of the gym.
It's a common misconception that eating healthy is more expensive. It doesn't have to be. Skip the name-brand health foods and just prepare your own sensible meals. Start by avoiding the central aisles of your grocery market, because that's where you find all the ready-to-eat and less healthy processed food. Switching just your lunch to a meal you cooked yourself could save you $400 and 26,000 calories over 6 months.
The biggest place Americans stand to save money and improve their health is by cutting back on smoking. Kicking the habit has near-immediate health benefits and, because smokes cost around $6 a pack, you stand to save $780 over 6 months if you quit your 5-pack-a-week addiction.
Finally, you can burn calories instead of gasoline by swapping driving for walking. Figure out which errands are within walking or biking distance and skip taking the car. Trips to the post office, work, or the corner store become mini-work-outs and can save you a couple gallons a week.
Altogether, saying goodbye to a pricey gym, cooking your own healthy foods, quitting smoking and walking instead of driving could save you more than $2,000 over 6 months and dramatically improve your health.
For the full breakdown or to see how you can save even more while you shape up, just visit Bankrate.com. I'm Doug Whiteman.