Thin Waist, Fat Wallet {How to Save Money while Losing Weight}

Thin Waist, Fat Wallet 10 Ways to Save Money While Losing Weight.  Great tips--some of which you may not have thought of before!

This is a guest post by Sarah of Little Progress Notes

You may be aware of the health benefits of losing extra weight, but have you thought about the ways you’d save money if you acheive and maintain a healthy weight? Costs for doctor’s visits are lower when you aren’t sick as much, your joints aren’t strained by extra weight so there are fewer knee issues and ankle sprains. You miss less work from illness related to an immune system that’s not at it’s prime, and don’t have to buy so many medications for obesity-related symptoms like acid reflux, diabetes, high blood pressure, or elevated cholesterol. Also, life insurance premiums drop quite a bit–I saved hundreds each year on my own policy by reaching a healthier weight before buying my policy.

But does it feel like you have to fork over bundles of money to lose those pounds? Everywhere you look, people advertise ways to spend on weight loss. Join this pricey gym, hire a trainer, buy those premade meals, buy expensive shakes and “cleanses” sold by a multi-level marketing scheme. But does lasting weight loss really have to cost so much financially? While some of these things can promote a jump start, and trainers can certainly get you moving, there are actually ways to save money, and possibly even make a few bucks, while dropping those unhealthy pounds. Here are ten ideas:

1. Eat half, or at least less, of what you were previously eating.  I’ll start with something simple–make the decision not to go back for seconds. You’ll have leftovers for another meal. Eating smaller portions means you don’t have to buy as much food, a great way to stretch the grocery budget. Restaurant portions can certainly be split most of the time, and give you two meals for the price of one.

2. Cook with dried beans as the main protein source for several meals a week.  Make a goal of testing and choosing several recipes you can prepare that feature beans as the main protein source, and instead of grabbing cans–just cook them from dried. It’s really not that hard if you plan ahead, and beans are one of the cheapest–and healthiest–protein sources around. If dried beans intimidate you, you can still save a bundle by going with canned beans, just give them a good rinse to get the extra sodium off before cooking. Going partially vegetarian can be a huge boost to your health and add padding to your wallet, if done correctly.

3. Save on produce at the Farmer’s Market.  Go to the farmer’s markets right before or at closing time. Frequently, the farmers just don’t want to pack up the unsold merchandise to carry home, and are interested in cutting deals. One farmer threw in a big pile of cucumbers last time after I paid, just because he didn’t want to take them home.  (For more tips on saving on produce, check out this post.)

4. Seek out free accountability. Accountability is one of the secrets to Weight Watcher’s success. And while they are a great program, you might not be able to afford their fees. If you don’t have friends or family dedicated to making long-term healthy changes alongside you, there are plently of ways to get free accountability via social media (MyFitnessPal is great and you can friend people through it for encouragement), interacting with the weight loss blogging community, start your own weight loss blog to chronicle your journey, or join my Fit Friday link-ups on my blog, Little Progress Notes, where you can enter your weekly successes and failures in the the comments even if you don’t have your own blog.

5. Don’t buy soda. This is hard for a lot of people, but there is nothing beneficial they have to offer, even diet sodas. And they aren’t cheap! Spend that money on some good produce instead. Pop a slice of cucumber, a wedge of lemon, or some mint leaves into your glass of ice water and enjoy. It might take some time, but go without soda for a while and see if your taste buds don’t start craving water instead.

6. Grow your own veggies, or at the very least, your own herbs. You’ll burn calories working out in the yard, and get plenty of great, healthy cheap food.

7. Stop buying and eating red meat on a regular basis. It’s more expensive anyway, and numerous studies associate it with increased disease.

8. Make breakfast cereal at home with simple whole grain ingredients. I make granola in my crockpot {harder to burn that way}. Processed cereals are more expensive, and most have more sugar and preservatives than what you can make at home. I buy whole grains in bulk to use in my granola. You can find bulk bins at natural food stores, or even order them on Amazon. My most recent granola concoction is Maple Almond Quinoa Granola.

9. Earn money by making a Diet Bet. You don’t have to be on the Biggest Loser to enter a weight loss competition these days. DietBet is one of several online contests that allow you to wager some money (usually $10 to $50) that you will be able to lose 4% of your body weight over 4 weeks time. The number of people who enter each DietBet determine how big the pot is, and the pot is split only by the winners of the DietBet at the end (that’s everyone who lost 4%). My husband entered several of these and won most of them, and I entered one at the beginning of the year and won. They add another layer of motivation and score you a little cash. You can read my review post about Diet Bet here.

10. Become familiar with Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists, which are yearly updated rankings of produce with the most and the least amount of pesticide, according to testing. If you’re on a limited food budget, don’t stress over spending extra for organic. Any produce, even if not organic, is far better than no produce. Learn to wash your fruits and veggies well, peel them, etc. If you are worried about pesticides and can afford to spend a little more, just focus on buying organic versions of those fruits and veggies listed high in the EWG’s dirty dozen list. Don’t bother forking out the cash for an organic fruit or veggie that’s on the “clean fifteen” list, when the cheaper, conventional version probably doesn’t have much pesticide residue anyway.

These 10 steps can get you started toward a trimmer waist and a fatter wallet. One key to success I’ve found in my own weight loss process is to focus on one new goal at a time. Only when I’ve gotten a new habit down pat do I try to add on another. Too much, too soon, and you can get discouraged and give up quickly. You are in this for the long haul so just accept that change can take time. Quit searching for overnight results and focus on positive changes you can stick with.

Sarah Wells, MD spends most of her time at home with her two (soon to be 3!) young children, but she also volunteers as a physician in a Christian free clinic in her community. She treats patients living below the poverty line, some of whom are homeless, and often gives food and cooking advice to maximize the nutritional bang for their buck, working with patients to fight the obesity underlying many of their diseases. She also enjoys blogging about her own weight loss journey, running, healthy cooking, homemaking projects, and homeschooling at ber blog Little Progress Notes.

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Do you struggle with weight loss while trying to also stick to a budget?  How do you save money while trying to lose weight?

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{ 33 comments… add one }

  • Ruth Soukup August 20,

    Sarah, these are such great tips! I especially love #9–can’t wait to check that out! Thanks so much for guest posting!

    • Sarah August 20,

      Thanks, Ruth! Thanks for having me here. Yes, I did find the Diet Bet motivational : ) After my baby is born, I’m going to have to sign up for another!

  • Michelle August 20,

    Great tips! We are really working on cooking from scratch and eating more healthier options. It has been saving us a lot of money!

    • Michelle August 20,

      I know what you mean, Michelle, it really saves a lot to eat at home! Both calories and money–I just try to make cooking at home as easy as possible for me so I don’t give in to the pull of the restaurants. I have a big chopping center set up so prepping fresh produce isn’t such a chore, and when I need a break we use paper plates to decrease on dishes rather than go out–so we still eat healthy and I get a little break on the chores : )

  • Becca August 21,

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing. I’ve recently included the Eating Less by not going back for seconds. But when you’re cooking better tasting, fresh food, you want more! A catch 22. Stop by my Friday’s Five Features this week and link up this post (and others)!

  • Jill August 21,

    Great tips. For myself, I started growing fresh herbs because so often you buy a big bundle, use 1/4 of it, and throw out the rest. Not to mention they look cute on my window sill!

  • Melinda August 21,

    Great post! I’m living proof that the ideas you just suggested WORK! I began my getting healthier journey on July 1. Here it is, seven weeks later, and I just hit my first goal of 10 pounds of weight loss! I don’t buy “diet” food. I eat the same things as the rest of my family, only in smaller amounts. I always keep a salad in the fridge, and will eat that along with my lunch/dinner. I did join a group for weight loss accountability. It’s not Weight Watchers, though! WW is way too expensive. I joined TOPS(Take Off Pounds Sensibly). I did have to pay a fee to join($28), but my monthly dues are only $5. Compare that to Weight Watchers that requires a joining fee($30 in my area), and requires WEEKLY dues of $14!!! Yikes! That is $56 a month!

    I also have committed myself to two miles of walking EVERY DAY. Exercise is so important when it comes to having a healthy body. I also make sure I get at least 8 glasses of water a day…usually more.

    My equation for weight loss:
    Smaller portions of real food
    Always have a salad and/or fresh produce available
    Incorporating exercise
    Drink plenty of water

  • Taryn August 22,

    These are great ideas! I’ve been trying to slim down but it just seems so expensive to do so. Now I have new ideas and tools to try and lose some weight without worrying about it costing a lot.

  • Robbie August 22,

    Good ideas that I need to implement now!!

  • Kayla August 22,

    Great tips! I’m hosting a giveaway for $100 in throw pillows at my blog. You should swing by and enter!

  • Anita August 28,

    So true with the dried beans! I make a triple batch to be sure i have leftovers to freeze. Mostly because the btus to cook cost more than the ingredients! My husband dragged a 10 lb indian food cookbook back from California for a present years back and it’s got a ton of great recipes for beans all using dried. We go meatless every Friday so it gets tough to find flavorful options week after week. Chana Masala is my fav, love to share if you’re interested!

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  • la December 23,

    half of these are terrible suggestions, ESPECIALLY from a “nutritionist.” beans ARE NOT a good source of protein, your body can’t digest them very well, which is why they make you fart. secondly, red meat is NOT bad for you, the fat in red meat is one of the few fats that actually good for you (provided that you’re buying quality meat). Cereal is terrible for you, as is all gluten, just cause you made it at home, do you really think it’s good for you? I can make beer and ice cream at home, those sure are good for you. and gambling? seriously? are you trying to get people in finical debt? f

    • Della February 3,

      She didn’t say not to eat red meat. She said don’t buy and eat it on a regular basis. And many people digest beans just fine. Some fruits and vegetables make me fart. Does that mean they aren’t good for me? Food tolerances are a different topic though. Her point is to save money while eating healthier. Great article, thanks.

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  • Seana Turner June 6,

    Great idea about shopping at the end of the Farmer’s Market. I hadn’t thought of that, but I could certainly try that. I used to buy iced tea, but now I make it at home and it is so cheap and better for me! Not sure that growing my own veggies saves me any money by the time I spend all the money to keep the critters away:) BUT, it does taste better and I love it at the end of the summer:)

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  • FrugalEcoMama January 9,

    I’d like to add two strategies that I use. 1) TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) has chapters all over Canada and the USA, and while membership isn’t free, it’s very affordable. 2) I make my own bread, using 100% whole wheat flour and a bread machine on dough setting, then rising/baking in the oven (we prefer the texture, can control how much it rises, and we get annoyed by the holes left by the machine’s paddles). Oh, and an added bonus is that the bread machine makes jam, so we make our own jam, using less sugar, and some of it is made from the raspberries we grow in our yard. :-)

  • cher January 15,

    maybe it’s just my computer, but i can’t read the first part of each of the 10 suggestions. the wording must be white on the white background? but from the rest of the post i think they are pretty great suggestions!

  • Jenetta Penner January 16,

    Nice tips… I specially love #6!

  • Tonia April 9,

    I had a great idea for controlling portion sizes. Use a toddler plate! I do it all the time. I use one of my son’s plate. My portion sizes were cut by more than half! I add a big salad on the side and a big glass of water. Voila! And when I start wanting a snack, I just drink a large glass of ice water. If I am still wanting a snack after 20 minutes, I grab a piece of fruit or some baby carrots. And stop snacking after supper. That has been my biggest challenge. My husband always has a late night snack. Makes me want to snack as well. I love the lists of ideas on how to save money as well! Always a good idea with a toddler in the house lol.


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