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3 lifestyle similarities of the frugal and the healthy

My favorite kind of ice cream is chocolate chip cookie dough. I prefer the brands that have less chocolate chips and more creamy ice cream in the mix. There is something almost luxurious about treating myself to it every once in a while.

On the other hand, I am not a fan of chocolate ice cream of any kind. I don’t care what you add to it or take away from it, I still don’t like it. Still, I realize that chocolate ice cream is the epitome of desserts for some. I think it’s crazy, but I’ll try to understand. 🙂

For those who love both, there’s the twist. The perfect combination of vanilla and chocolate ice cream (if that’s your thing).

My husband and I are kind of like this in the way we make decisions. I’m vanilla and he’s chocolate. Though they are very different and each have a distinct flavor in their own right, they can actually be the perfect complement to each other.

Let me explain a bit about my “vanilla” ways.

I am very health conscious. When I see a buffet, or a potluck dinner, for that matter, I mentally sort through all the options and select the ones that are the most nutritious. Those become my target. Sure, the ones loaded with fat and sugar probably are extremely satisfying (and addicting!) but I’ve come to prefer the taste of food cooked healthfully. Not to mention I prefer the way I feel after I eat the meal. I make many decisions a day based on this innate desire to be healthy. Where I park. What groceries I buy. What meals I make. What I order at a restaurant. I see it all through the lens of health.

My husband’s “chocolate” ways actually have nothing to do with health. He views the world through the lens of financial freedom and makes decisions based on how we can best conserve and preserve our money. Whether it’s the temptation to order a coffee on the road, the need to purchase a new large appliance, or investing in our future, Mark is the man when it comes to managing money. I admire his ability to put things into a long term perspective in order to make our money work for us and benefit us as much as possible.

I’ve never been a complete spendthrift and my husband has never been a complete mess when it comes to health. Yet, especially early on in our relationship, I was more likely to make a small, impulsive purchase at the grocery store than he was (can you really have too many cool mugs?) and he was more likely to load up on junk food than I was.

Enter the “twist” that marriage has brought to our lives. As I’ve become better about not making those small, impulsive purchases and enjoying the freedom that comes with owning less, he’s become better about caring for his body and investing in his health. It’s a great combination! And what I’ve learned is the two lifestyles actually have a lot in common. Making decisions for health reasons often benefits your wallet, and watching how you spend your money can protect your health.

chocolate-or-vanilla

 

So whether you’re more vanilla, like me, or more chocolate, like my husband, here are three ways that we can work together to accomplish both of these goals.

Buy based on need instead of (only) want

My husband and I recently purchased a new-to-us vehicle. For the past year, we’ve shared one vehicle and were able to make it work fantastically most of the time. But, as it would be, life threw a curve ball and we needed a second vehicle. So we went car shopping.

We’ve been car shopping before so I knew how easy it would be to get drawn into the spirit of consumerism, wanting the latest models and all the extras. Heated seats? Yes, please! Navigation? Yes, please! Great mileage? Absolutely! Cargo space? The more the better! Seven passengers? Sure, why not!? There are countless situations you may find yourself in and you want a vehicle that can handle them all, whether it’s a road trip, transporting your kids and their friends, or commuting to and from work. There are many options in many price ranges. It can be overwhelming trying to sort it all out.

This time around, I wasn’t worried about the future scenarios that I might find myself in. My family needs to safely get from point A to point B, and though doing so in relative comfort is important we don’t need our car to make a statement every time we pull into a parking lot. With this mindset, selecting a vehicle was easy. We found a vehicle that fit our family and fell within the desired price range and made the deal.

I use the same mentality when I grocery shop. Yes, my family needs to eat and I want them to eat good food. But just like car shopping, grocery shopping can be overwhelming. There are so many choices and temptations that you can easily lose sight of the need to simply eat a meal; a wholesome meal, preferably. My solution is to plan. I plan my meals a week in advance, write down the ingredients I’ll need to make those meals, and I purchase only those items. If we want pretzels as an evening treat that week, I’ll put them on my list. When I’m at the store, I grab the pretzels and don’t even pay attention to what’s on the shelves in the rest of the aisle.

Shopping like this not only ensures that you get exactly what you need, but it also prevents you from purchasing items you don’t need. So whether you’re concerned more about the money or your health, you’ll be pleased with the results.

Prepare and eat most meals at home

Let’s be honest, here. How often do you buy coffee on the run? It seems like a cheap and simple pleasure that is harmless to indulge in, even if it’s on a nearly daily basis. But what about buying lunch at work and taking your family through a drive thru in the evening? Not so cheap and definitely not harmless.

My achilles heal is chai lattes. If I am tempted to buy anything when I pass a coffee shop it’s this. Just seeing a Starbucks sign makes me salivate. But they’re not cheap! If I bought one a day at $3.50, that’s over $1,200 a year. Holy latte, that’s a lot of money! Not to mention the 240 calories, complete with 42g of sugar. Ummm. Maybe not so tempting, this time.

To save money and my waistline, I’ve been experimenting with making my own chai concentrate at home so I can have my chai latte without all the guilt. And though I’ll always love that cup from Starbucks, I’m very happy with this alternative.

Now imagine doing this with all your meals. The food you buy out tastes good, sure. It’s also loaded with fat and sugar and sodium. Not to mention it costs more to feed a family at a restaurant than it does to make a comparable meal at home. When you prepare your own food, you’re in control of both the ingredients and the money spent on them. You don’t have to sacrifice taste if you know how to cook it right. If time is an issue, you can cook food in large batches on the weekend and enjoy it all week long. Not only will you be promoting healthy habits for your whole family, but you’ll save a lot of money!

Look for opportunities to move your body (and not your vehicle)

Owning a vehicle is expensive. The purchasing cost is just the start. You have to pay insurance, buy fuel, replace tires and brakes. The list goes on. Vehicles are convenient, and for many of us, a necessity, but they come at a high price.

That’s why a lot of money conscious folks use their vehicles as little as possible, or choose not to own one at all. Never make two trips to town when, with a little planning, you can do it all in one. Don’t waste the fuel when you can get to your destination on foot. Reduce your insurance rate by reducing how much you drive. It makes sense.

Looking for more ways to move your body during the day is something that appeals to us “vanilla” people. When we go to a shopping strip, we like to park in the middle and use our cars as a sort of home base, walking from store to store instead of driving from one side of the parking lot to the other. When there’s a farm stand a mile down the road, we walk to it instead of drive to it. If distance and safety allow for it, we ride our bikes to work. If a project needs to be completed, we welcome the challenge of using our own muscle power to get the job done. So whether you want to save money or you want to burn calories, using your body more and your vehicle less is a goal worth pursuing.

What do you think?

Are you more “chocolate” or “vanilla” in your approach to life? Leave a comment to let me and the FitGrape community know the flavor your prefer. (Hmm, I wonder what strawberry would be… or maybe caramel. Yum!)

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2 thoughts on “3 lifestyle similarities of the frugal and the healthy

  1. Hi Becky,
    I wanted to let you know how much I am enjoy your column. It is well worth reading every week with all of your helpful hints. Yes, I am like my son. I am a chocolate person. I too handle most of the finances for the family. However, I am trying to do better with my diet and have incorporated swimming into my exercise regime. Although I haven’t lost weight, I do feel healthier.
    Pat

    Liked by 1 person

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