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On a Budget? Learn Cheap Ways to Be Healthy

Any time is a good time to save money, be healthy, and be informed. Making healthy choices may help prevent injury, disease, and disability. Stay healthy on the cheap by including smart choices that are low-cost or free. Many are simple too, such as the following.

Everyday Health

Quit smoking.
Smoking is expensive, and that doesn't include the long-term costs associated with chronic disease and other problems that can develop later. It's never too late to quit smoking. Quitting improves your health and reduces your risk for heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and other smoking-related illnesses. Quit now with free coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and a list of helpful online resources.

Find affordable health care.
Many programs are available through federally funded and state-sponsored programs that are free or low-cost. They are offered through hospitals, health centers, public health departments, and clinics. Also, the health reform law will give many Americans new opportunities to get needed services and care. Some benefits are already available and others will become available by 2014.

Subscribe to text4baby. Get free health text messages for pregnant and new moms.
Text4baby is a free service that provides pregnant women and new moms with free text messages each week on pregnancy and caring for babies younger than 1 year old. These messages are timed to a woman's due date or the baby's date of birth. Sign up for the service by texting BABY to 511411 (or BEBE in Spanish) to receive free SMS text messages.

Get recommended vaccines.
Making sure you have all of the recommended vaccines, especially if you are pregnant, and getting your child vaccinated on time can help prevent serious and costly diseases. When you prevent disease, you can also save money on visits to the doctor or clinic and time away from work. Review the recommended childhood and adult immunization schedules.

If you don't have health insurance, or if your insurance does not cover vaccinations, your child is eligible for vaccines through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program. This federal program provides vaccines for eligible children at no cost for the vaccine itself, although an administration fee may apply. VFC vaccines cannot be denied to an eligible child if the family can’t afford to pay the administration fee. Find out if your child qualifies. Vaccinating on time means healthier children, families, and communities.

Avoid unnecessary medicines.
Antibiotics can kill bacteria but not viruses. Antibiotics and cough and cold medications will not cure most colds, coughs, flus, sore throats, or runny noses. These medicines can sometimes cause more harm than good. Save your money.

Nutrition and Physical Activity

Be active.
You don’t need anything fancy, expensive, or complicated to be active. Regular physical activity may help lower your risk for many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon and breast cancers. Physical activity also helps to control weight, contributes to healthy bones, muscles, and joints, and reduces falls among older adults. Adults should be active for at least 2½ hours a week. Include activities that raise your breathing and heart rate and that strengthen your muscles. Adults should also do strengthening activities at least 2 days a week.

Choose beans instead of meat.
Use canned or dried beans in recipes instead of meat, which is more expensive. Traditional recipes made with meat, such as chili, soups, and Mexican dishes like burritos, are delicious with beans.

Breastfeed.
Both babies and mothers benefit from breastfeeding. Breast milk is free, is easy to digest, and contains antibodies that can protect infants from infections. Women who breastfeed may also have lower rates of certain breast and ovarian cancers.

Photo: Group of people cookingHave an "ingredient" potluck.
Do you have a favorite healthy recipe? When you invite your friends to come over, ask them to bring one of the ingredients, and then make the dish together!

Buy canned or frozen fruits and veggies.
Depending on the recipe, canned and frozen veggies can work just as well as the fresh kind. They're also cheaper and last longer than fresh ones.

Buy seasonal.
Purchase fresh fruits and vegetables in season when they tend to be less expensive. Blend the fruit into a smoothie to take with you on the go!

Grow your own food.
Growing your own vegetables is a budget-friendly option for getting your daily dose of colorful produce. A novice gardener can grow a variety of inexpensive fresh vegetables that can be included in any summer meal.

Drink water.
Choosing water keeps you from drinking something else that may be loaded with calories and sugar. People who drink sugar-sweetened beverages tend to consume more calories. For a quick, easy, and cheap thirst-quencher, carry a water bottle, and refill it throughout the day. Make water more appealing by keeping it cold in the fridge or by adding a slice of fruit for flavor. Drinking fluoridated water helps protect against tooth decay. Fluoridation is the cheapest way to deliver the benefits of fluoride to all residents of a community. Tap water is fine to drink.

Limit food portions.
Take control of the amount of food that ends up on your plate. If eating out, split an entrée with a friend. Or, ask for a "to-go" box and wrap up half your meal as soon as it's brought to the table. If eating in, serve food on individual plates or bowls instead of eating straight from the package. Minimize the temptation of second and third helpings.

Look for store brands.
Generic and store brands tend to cost less than name brands and have similar taste and nutrition.

Use coupons. 
Use coupons, and look in grocery store circulars for discounts on fruits and veggies that you need.

More Information

 

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  • Page last reviewed: April 7, 2014
  • Page last updated: April 7, 2014
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