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Tips For Healthy Living On A Budget In South Africa  

May 16, 2024 | Life

It’s hardly surprising that living a healthy lifestyle has the power to significantly prolong your life. Of course, ‘living well’ can mean different things to different people, but by and large, the idea is to eat a balanced and nutritious diet, move your body (some call it exercise), avoid smoking, and limit your alcohol intake.  

In the wake of wellness influencers and the healthy lifestyle aesthetic that has taken over what it means to be healthy, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that healthy living comes with a hefty price tag. The good news is that it absolutely doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour. There are various strategies you can adopt to improve your wellbeing – without breaking the bank. 

Let’s explore a few practical tips to help you live a healthier life while staying within your budget. 

Embrace Affordable Whole Foods 

We tend to think of pre-packaged foods as the cheaper option, but the reality is, these types of foods can be quite costly, and depending on the type of food it is, it could be lacking in the essential nutrients your body needs.  

It can take a bit more effort at times, but incorporating whole, unprocessed foods into your diet can be the cheaper and healthier choice. For example, buying seasonal vegetables and herbs is more affordable than the eye-catching produce that’s out of season. And the end result? A big batch of delicious soup that you can enjoy once, and then freeze the rest for another meal.  

Meal Prep And Plan Ahead 

Planning your meals in advance can save you heaps of time and money. It may seem like a lot of prep work, but if you set aside a few hours on the weekend, you can prepare healthy meals and snacks for the week ahead. Not only does this ensure that you have nutritious options on hand, but also helps you avoid the temptation of expensive takeout or convenience foods. And we all know that a major drain on our income these ‘little’ unplanned expenses can be, like the weekly cheeky takeaway that you hadn’t realised had become more of a regular occurrence than the occasional treat. 

Explore Free Or Low-Cost Fitness Activities 

Staying active doesn’t have to mean that you need an expensive gym membership. Not when you can explore free or low-cost fitness options, such as heading to your local outdoor park and trail for walking, jogging, or cycling. You could also go online and use the free workout videos on YouTube or even download a fitness app and workout at home. That said, don’t dismiss the possibility of joining a gym. Most gyms offer discounted gym memberships, or you could take advantage of subsidised gym memberships through your employer or medical aid provider. 

Prioritise Preventive Healthcare 

Minor health issues can develop into more problematic and expensive issues further down the line, so don’t ignore those aches and pains. It may seem like you’re saving money by not seeing your doctor and hoping for the best, but in reality, scheduling regular check-ups with your doctor, dentist, and optometrist to catch any potential health issues early can help you avoid more costly procedures later on.  

In fact, there are a number of medical aid providers in South Africa who offer free or discounted preventive care services, so be sure to take advantage of these benefits. 

Manage Stress And Prioritise Self-Care 

Stress can have a significant impact on your physical and mental wellbeing, leading to various health issues. Incorporate stress-reducing activities into your routine, like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or journaling. The good news for your budget is that you don’t have to be on top of a mountain or book yourself into a fancy (and expensive) retreat to do any of this. Visit your local park, find a nook in your home, or even take a drive to a bit of pretty wilderness that’s reasonably close, and hey presto! You’re breathing away the stress and not spending a cent. 

It’s also recommended that you carve out time for self-care activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as reading, listening to music, or spending time in nature. 

Feel informed?  

The great news for anyone looking to get healthier without blowing their entire budget, is that it can be done. Our last piece of advice is that you should start by setting your health goals, because you can’t hit a target you haven’t identified. Clearly, your priorities will vary whether you’re looking for more flexibility in your life, looking to improve your cardiovascular fitness, hoping to improve your diet, or something else.  

By implementing these tips, you can then prioritise your health and wellbeing without compromising your financial stability. Remember, small, consistent steps towards a healthier lifestyle can have a profound impact on your overall quality of life. You can also make use of AA Inform’s Monthly Personal Budget Calculator.

Don’t forget that in addition to life advice, AA Inform can also help you compare home and car insurance costs through the AA Insurance Supermarket and even obtain a Free Vehicle Valuation Report, which tells you how much your vehicle or a vehicle you’re interested in buying is worth. 

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