The good life is built on a strong foundation of healthy habits. Here are six frugal habits that help you stick to your budget.
This article is sponsored by Blackmores.
Healthy habits form the foundation on which we build money-saving habits. They keep us energised, enable us to focus and stay positive.
It’s hard to be frugal without that solid foundation. Money-saving habits like avoiding takeaway or shopping around for the best deal fall to the wayside when we’re tired and unmotivated.
Below is a list of six healthy habits that I’ve found serve my greater goals. When I don’t stick to them (and I fail a lot), my day unravels into chaos, and good intentions remain a neglected to-do list to feel guilty about. One bad day can spiral into a bad week or a bad month until I get back to focusing on these core habits.
Healthy Habit 1: Start the Day With a Good Breakfast
“Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began.” Charles H Spurgeon.
Starting the day with quality fuel will power your day and help you get through your to-do list.
A breakfast consisting of high protein, high-fibre foods provides you with the slow-release energy that will last all morning. A good breakfast also improves memory, concentration, and productivity.
Fibre and protein keep you feeling full for longer. This staves off the mid-morning munchies and saves you from expensive high-calorie snacks.
An excellent frugal breakfast option that is high in fibre and protein is oats, coupled with some Greek yoghurt and fruit. Eggs on wholegrain toast are another great option.
Healthy Habit 2: Drink Enough Water to Stay Hydrated
If you’re looking for a hack to help you avoid impulse buys and save money, it might be as simple as drinking more water.
Research has found that even mild dehydration can cause attention problems and impair decision making. This isn’t helpful when you’re trying to stick to a budget!
How much water should you drink?
The short answer is just enough.
Exactly how much water you need depends on a variety of factors including your weight, your activity level, how hot it is, the other foods and liquids you’re consuming, overall health, medications, to name a few.
However, the “urine test” can be a good measure. Too dark, and you may need more water. If it’s clear and you need to go all the time, and you’ve probably had enough. If you’re in doubt, the Havard Medical School recommends consulting your doctor.
Healthy Habit 3: Take a Walk in the Fresh Air
We all know that exercise is good for us. Exercise is one of my weakest healthy habits, but I have more energy and motivation during the day when I make an effort to be active.
One of the best exercises to do is to take a walk outside in the fresh air. Walking is cheap – no gym fees, personal trainers or special equipment.
You can walk alone and let the meditative solitude spark creativity or work through emotions. Or you can go on a walking date with a friend and enjoy company while you exercise.
Walking briskly for 30 minutes a day can help you lose or maintain weight, de-stress, improve your mood, decrease your risk of disease, increase cardiovascular health, help prevent bone disease and keep you regular.
And walking outside also means you’re getting your daily dose of sunshine and Vitamin D.
To maximise the benefit of walking, go natural. Exposure to nature (walking in a park, in the bush or the beach, for instance) can also relieve stress, improve mood, boost concentration, memory and creativity and even boost the immune system.
Healthy Habit 4: Maximise Your Sleep
If you want to hit the ground running each day, then a good night’s sleep is essential.
Sleep improves productivity and concentration. It’s easier to make good decisions when you’re not tired. Sleep improves immune function and helps stave off inflammation.
We can’t always control external factors that affect our sleep, like babies, noisy neighbours, snoring spouses or dogs barking in the night. But there are steps we can take to improve the likelihood of a good night’s sleep.
Getting plenty of exercise and light during the day can help us sleep better at night. A good bedtime routine that includes avoiding screens at least one hour before bed can also improve the quality of our sleep. White noise apps can help drown out external noise, and heavy curtains can darken the bedroom.
My sleep routine starts with a chapter or two of a good book (preferably a real one) followed by a meditation using the Headspace app. And if it’s noisy out, I’ll use Relaxio app for white noise and fall asleep to the sound of rain against the window.
Are you feeling tired? You can find out if your energy is depleted from not getting enough sleep with this quick energy quiz.
Healthy Habit 5: Be Intentional With Your Spare Time
The modern person is busy and distracted.
We’re time-poor: working longer hours, taxiing kids around, buying the groceries, organising the plumber and taking elderly parents to the doctor.
And in our spare time, we self-medicate with social media or Netflix. Time passes, and we’re not making headway on our goals.
You may not have much control over your busy time, but we can all choose to be more intentional with our distracted time.
We can choose instead to take real downtime and see what a difference it can make.
Read that book you’ve wanted too. Sit in the garden and soak up the sun. Talk to your spouse. Listen to music. Go for a walk. Or catch up with a friend. These are the simple pleasures of the good life. And we rob ourselves of simple pleasures in exchange for the virtual and the vicarious.
The other good use of distracted time is to action all the things we’ve been putting off. Write out that meal plan, declutter that closet, create that budget. Progress is the best motivator, and a little progress each week will compound into huge changes over time.
Healthy Habit 6: Practice Daily Gratitude
When we bought our little second-hand Kia Rio, we started seeing Kias everywhere. They were parked at the supermarket. We would pass one on the way to work. And look! There’s an ad for one on the side of a bus.
You’ve probably experienced something similar.
It’s known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon or the Frequency Illusion. It occurs when something you’ve been thinking about recently suddenly crops up everywhere.
It’s not because there are more Kia Rios around. It’s because the brain is selective about what it pays attention to and it’s now noticing something you’ve given importance to.
What’s this got to do with gratitude and frugal living?
We can use this effect to be intentional about what we pay attention to.
If you feel deprived and focus on what you don’t have, you’ll constantly see examples that reinforce that feeling of deprivation.
But if you focus on what you do have, your attention will be caught by more examples of the good things you have. Feelings of abundance will be amplified in a continuous positive feedback loop.
Practising the habit of gratitude is a powerful technique for focusing the attention on the positive. Gratitude doesn’t change our situation, but it does change our perception of our situation. This shift can help us see opportunities for growth and change that we were otherwise closed to.
To get in the habit of practising gratitude, add gratitude to your bedtime routine and list ten things you’re grateful for. If you’re feeling down, go back and read over your daily lists to remind yourself of all the good things in your life.
A good life is built on a strong foundation of healthy habits. When the foundation gets shaky, it compromises the whole structure. If I’m not sticking to my budget – if we’re overeating takeaway or overspending on stuff – it’s because I’m not consistent with one or more healthy habits. Getting back to basics helps everything else fall into place.
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.