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5 Places People Waste the Most Money on Their Health

David Bakke writes about tips for improving health and saving money on Money Crashers Personal Finance.

In 2009, Americans spent almost $2.5 trillion on health care, and that number is expected to almost double by the year 2019. As these costs escalate, it’s obvious that a healthy lifestyle can save you money. But the question is, how much money should you spend to live healthy? Fortunately, there are many ways to cut back on health expenses without cutting back on health benefits.

1. Gym Membership

Unless your monthly gym bill serves as your only motivation to exercise, a gym membership is usually not worth the expense. You can walk or jog in your neighborhood, bike at a local park, and swim in public pools. You can also pick up a cheap set of dumbbells for strength building. In fact, skipping the gym can easily save $500 annually.

2. Organic Food

Organic foods cost roughly 30% more than their traditional counterparts. So if you’re spending the money on organic, make sure it’s worth it and research which are safe to buy conventionally grown instead. For example, some conventionally grown fruits don’t contain as many pesticide residues as others. Whereas conventionally grown apples repeatedly test as some of the “dirtiest” fruits on the market. Avocados, onions, cantaloupes, asparagus, and eggplants should be safe to buy non-organic.

3. Paid Workout Programs

Programs like P90X and Insanity may seem cost-effective, but you can find all the information you need online to develop a home workout plan for free. And remember, you only get out what you put in to these regimens. There are no guarantees.

4. Paid Diet Programs

If you truly require a structured system, paid diet programs such as Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, and Weight Watchers might be worth the cost. But if you sign up for one and either don’t like the food or don’t stay on track, then your money is wasted. You’re better off devising a well-balanced diet of your own. Keep in mind that diet-plan foods contain more preservatives and artificial flavors than food cooked at home.

5. Vitamins and Supplements

If you’re treating a deficiency or recovering from an illness, taking vitamins and supplements may be vital. But people who take them daily might be wasting their money. You can often get all the nutrition you need from a well-rounded diet high in locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Plus, taking too many vitamins can actually damage your health in some cases.

Final Thoughts

Hang on to your dollars. Instead of trying to buy a healthy lifestyle, set up your own home workout program, purchase your food intelligently, and change your diet for free. And when you reach a milestone, reward yourself. Living a healthy lifestyle is important to you, and you don’t need to sacrifice it to save a little money.

What health items do you think are a waste of money? What other free ways can you suggest to improve your health?

April 10th, 2012

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