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ARTICLE Home economics: Keep your body ? and bank account ? in good shape

Home economics: Keep your body – and bank account – in good shape

Being healthy and saving money go hand in hand. For example, avoiding unhealthy habits can help you sidestep the long-term health problems that go along with them. Healthy living can also lower your monthly expenses, giving you more money to put in the bank.

It's a win-win situation. But, how do you get started? Here are 10 ideas to get on the right track:

1. Skip unnecessary and unhealthful foods at the grocery store. That's easier to do if you:

  • Make a list and stick to it. This will help you avoid impulse buys.
  • Don't shop when you're hungry. You're more likely to buy food you don't need.
  • Leave kids at home, if possible. Candy and other foods children like are on the lower shelves, at their level. So, they can reach for unhealthy choices that add to your bill.
  • Buy fruits and vegetables in season. They'll taste their best and can cost less.

2. Pay attention to portion size.Remember that a serving of meat is only about as big as a deck of cards. So, buy accordingly. Also, look for healthful foods in bulk, where you can buy only as much as you need.

3. Make to-go meals at home. Prepare a nutritious meal and brown-bag it to work or school, instead of eating out or being tempted by fast food. The same goes for munchies. Skip the vending machine – combine nuts, dried fruits and sunflower seeds in a baggie for a satisfying snack.

4. Look for lower-priced, healthful alternatives in recipes. For example, instead of meat in your meal use protein-rich, beans. And, try store brands. They're usually the same as name brands, with a lower price tag.

5. Leave your car at home. Don't pump your money into your car. Think about places you go regularly, and walk or bike instead of driving.

6. Do your own house and yard work. If your doctor says it's safe to do so, get exercise by raking or gardening - instead of hiring someone to do it for you.

7. Turn off the TV. Change your cable subscription. Buy fewer video games or movies. Instead, get your family outside for a walk, basketball game, or other active – and free – fun. Two-thirds of African Americans surveyed cut entertainment expenses to lessen the sting of the recession.

8. Get preventive care. Keep current on routine doctor visits to help avoid serious, and expensive, illness down the road.

9. Switch to generic. If you take a prescription medicine, ask your doctor if a generic option is available at a lower cost.

10. If you smoke, get help quitting. And, if you don't smoke, don't start. Tobacco is expensive – and it can cost you your life.

The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for your doctor's care. Please discuss with your doctor how the information provided is right for you.